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Green Purchasing

Click here to return to the Sustainable Department Greening Guide.

According to the United States Government, Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) refers to the procurement of goods and services that have a reduced effect on human health and the environment as compared to competing goods and services serving the same purpose.  Since each department or school at Vanderbilt buys its own supplies and equipment, you can have a direct, significant impact on the local community and the environment by greening your department or school’s purchasing.


  • Buy paper products with at least 30% postconsumer recycled content.
    • 30% recycled content uses 13% less energy and produces 15% less solid waste.
    • These products are already available through Vanderbilt’s E-Procurement at no quality difference.
    • ASPEN™ printer and copier paper line from Boise comes in 30%, 50%, and 100% recycled content and color varieties.
    • Earth-friendlier cups are available from American Paper and Twine (APT) through E-Procurement.
      • Dixie’s Insulair Hot/Cold Cups are made of 25% post-consumer recycled paper material with a 100% post-consumer recycled built-in sleeve.
      • Solo’s “Bare” Hot/Cold Cups are made of at least 10% post-consumer recycled paper material and come in sizes 4 to 20 ounces.
      • Solo’s “Bare” Plastic (#1 resin) cup is made of 20% recycled PET.

For more options on earth friendlier product choices, please contact Jenny Kirby at American Paper and Twine at 615-350-9050 ext. 2250, or at

  • An alternative to buying recycled content paper is ordering tree-free paper from Mammoth Office Products or through E-Procurement.  TreeFrog paper is made from bagasse fibers, a by-product of sugar cane processing.
  • When buying office supplies such as glue or liquid paper, choose non-toxic varieties.
  • Purchase recycled or remanufactured laser toner and ink jet cartridges from Guy Brown through Vanderbilt’s E-Procurement.
    • Recycled cartridges have been tested and page yields are equal to non-recycled varieties.
    • Remanufactured cartridges are produced from old printer cartridge parts that have been reused or repaired and examined, washed and tested individually to meet or exceed the cartridge manufacturer quality standards.
    • It’s better to re-use parts of old printer cartridges than to create new waste that ends up in landfills or incinerators.
    • Guy Brown is a 100% minority-owned and certified Small Disadvantaged Business and donates money to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital and the Susan Gray School when Vanderbilt recycles a certain threshold number of cartridges.

Did you know? Approximately 20-30% of all sold printer cartridges worldwide are made from a recycled cartridge.


  • Prior to purchasing any new equipment, think about whether or not it is truly necessary.  No matter how energy efficient an item may be, its production and use require energy and resource consumption.
  • When purchasing any electronics or equipment, look for the Energy Star or EPEAT rating which ensures that the product uses energy as efficiently as possible.  Specifically, look for products designated by EnergyStar as Most Efficient.  A product which has received this ranking is among the top 5% of energy efficient products in its category!
  • Consider buying liquid crystal display (LCD) flat panel monitors for your desktop computers and TVs. LCD flat panels use 30% less energy than cathode ray tube (CRT) displays and contain chemicals which are less harmful to the environment.   Look for TVs and monitors with light-emitting diode (LED) screens, as they use less energy.  Seek televisions with a standby or sleep mode consumption of under one watt, an ambient light sensor which adjusts backlighting to the needs of a given room, and that are made and packaged with recycled content material.  Visit the CNET Energy Efficiency Guides for televisions and monitors for more information.
  • Instead of using the elevator, take the stairs.  You’ll save energy and get some exercise!


  • When having new carpet installed, choose carpet with high postconsumer recycled content. Some manufacturers that offer these carpets are Shaw and Interface.
  • Consider installing carpet tiles instead of traditional carpet.  Carpet tiles can be more economical and reduce waste because single tiles can be replaced when damaged or worn.
  • Choose carpet and paints with low or No Volatile Organic Compounds (low or no-VOC).
  • When purchasing wood furniture or wood flooring, look for wood that is FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified, meaning it came from a sustainably harvested forest.
  • Purchase plastic and metal modular furniture that is high in postconsumer recycled content and easily disassembled. Products that can be taken apart and reconfigured are more easily repaired, reduce waste by being reused, and can be recycled.
  • Check out surplus and swap opportunities here at Vanderbilt.  The Plant Services group out of the Medical Center has a Surplus Equipment Store, which allows the Vanderbilt community and the public to purchase surplus items from their warehouse.  Vandy FreeSwap is a website for Vanderbilt students, faculty and staff to give away (and get) free, usable, unwanted items instead of disposing of them in landfills.

Visit the SustainVU Procurement page for more information on green purchasing.

Click here to return to the Sustainable Department Greening Guide.