Green Purchasing

What we buy has significant impacts. Being deliberate about your purchases—considering how the product is made, where it comes from, and where it will ultimately go—can make a big difference.

Best Practices

Catering and Events

Your purchasing decisions around catering will impact how much waste your event or meeting generates. Refer to our Green Event Planning Checklist for tips on what to buy. Yale’s Healthy Meeting Guidelines offer additional suggestions on healthy and green choices. 

Office Supplies 

Purchasing items from W.B. Mason, Yale’s preferred vendor? Select Environmentally Friendly Products (designated “recycled” or “green” items). Choose to receive your order in a reusable corrugated plastic shipping tote instead of cardboard boxes. Contact (888) 926-2766 ext. 5001 or to learn more. 


Looking for office supplies or furniture? Lab supplies or equipment? Time to clean out your supply closet? Yale’s Eli Surplus Exchange encourages units to reuse and recycled current university resources, reducing costs and improving campus reuse initiatives. 

Consider the following questions before you buy: 

Do you really need it?

Is there a reusable or refurbished option for the item you want to buy? 

Reuse is the best option, as it does not require the use of new materials, and it allows you to extend the life of an item.

When you are done with the item, will it be usable by someone else? If not, can it be recycled or composted?

The end of life of a product can be just as important as its manufacturing. Manufacturers can have a role in end of life by designing for recyclability, compostability, and reuse. These attributes will reduce the materials need for production in the future and keep items out of the waste stream.

Is the item you wish to buy produced locally? Does a local option exist?

Locally produced items not only support our local economy, they also ensure that emissions associated with transportation are reduced.

Is the item made of recycled content?

By using recycled material, it is possible to cut unnecessary costs, drive demand for recycled and low-impact material streams, and save energy.

Is the item produced by a company who provides fair and healthy working conditions?

A company’s social responsibility outlook will impact the products that it makes. It helps to buy from companies that consider their social responsibility for all products produced, not just the ones we buy. Worker conditions are an important part of this as well.

How long-lasting and/or durable is the item? Will you be able to use it for a long time/more than once?

A long product lifespan can be beneficial for both the environment and our wallets because it means that fewer materials need to be extracted and produced.  

Does the item have any hazardous components?

Toxicity levels are important to consider because materials associated with the products we use can damage the environment as well as our own health.

How far will the product have to travel to get to you? Is a closer option available?

Product transportation often raises the emissions associated with a product. 

Does the item come with a lot of packaging? Is it possible to choose an option without packaging?

Product packaging quickly becomes waste. Using recycled material for packaging and ensuring packaging can be recycled preserves the limited resources made available to us while saving money.

Meeting our goals

Yale’s procurement team works hard to support the University’s sustainability goals. Read about their commitments in their sustainability action plan and learn more about Yale’s goals on Materials Management.

In 2022, the Global Electronics Council recognized Yale as a leader in sustainable electronics procurement with a EPEAT Purchaser Award. By purchasing electronics with the EPEAT ecolabel, Yale seeks to address the lifecycle impacts of the electronics we purchase, including computers, displays, printers, copiers, network equipment, mobile phones, servers, photovoltaic modules, inverters, and televisions. Products bearing the EPEAT label are more energy-efficient, less toxic, longer-lasting, and easier to recycle than products that do not meet EPEAT criteria, while also addressing labor and human rights issues along the supply chain.


Reusable Shipping Totes

An informational poster to encourage the use of reusable shipping containers instead of cardboard.

Bring Your Own

This video shows just how much waste we create with disposable food containers and encourages us to provide our own reusable ones.

Eli Surplus Exchange

Learn more about the Eli Surplus Exchange, which encourages Yale units to reuse and recycle current University resources.