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Buy green at MIT

Request that vendors use recycled or reused packaging materials and reuse or recycle packing materials when you receive them. Send clean surplus packing peanuts to the MIT Mail Services Packing Peanuts Reuse Program, WW15 by placing sealed bags on any Interdepartmental mailbox.

Seek out the low hanging fruit, especially when purchasing office, restroom and kitchen/break room supplies. Look for paper products made with recycled paper/paperboard or with post-consumer waste. If it is not practical to store and care for dishes and cutlery, purchase compostable or biodegradable products.

Refill (and Reuse) your empty inkjet cartridges at InkTec Zone and save up to 50% of the manufacturer's price. Only InkTec inks are used in their refills and InkTec Zone remanufactured inkjet cartridges and they are compatible with most printers. The store, located in Somerville, also carries remanufactured toner cartridges at a fraction of the manufacturers' retail price. If unable to use remanufactured toner or inkjet cartridges, purchase high volume cartridges.

When purchasing or leasing office printers, make sure all models allow for duplex printing, and provide clear instructions to all users on enabling this function under their print settings.

From battery chargers and appliances, to video and audio equipment, when buying for your office or lab, look for Energy Star rated products.

Compact fluorescent bulbs consume less than 20% of the energy of conventional bulbs. However, remember to recycle fluorescent bulbs since they do contain mercury. Contact the Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) Office or your Repair & Maintenance Zone Supervisor for collection points and requirements. Also consider buying LED, the next generation of lighting. 

Exhibit hall and promotional “giveaways” aren’t free. Think about whether you actually have a use for the item, how long it will actually be in your office, and what will happen to it when you move or clean out your office.  Instead, buy quality, durable goods that won't end up in the landfill in a few weeks or months.

Avoid buying items that you do not really need, and return unwanted items or pass them on to someone else via reuse@mit.edu, craigslist, or freecycle.org.

Buy Local

Send retailers and manufacturers a message: buy local and buy organic when possible.  Avoid impulse shopping, trendy items, and cheap plastic throwaway items.  Save your wallet while saving resources.

Cambridge Local First—this movement to support the independently operated businesses in Cambridge is actually part of a larger North American initiative. Visit this site for a list of participating businesses, or look for the "Cambridge Local First" sticker the next time you're dining, shopping, or running errands in Cambridge.

For your office

Computers and equipment

EPEAT, or the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool, is a web-based tool designed by the Green Electronics Council to aid in selecting a computer or monitor based on environmental performance criteria. When looking for a new computer, you can search this site to see which brands and models have been rated the highest according to an extensive list of environmental criteria.

Dell computer take-back program—When ordering a Dell computer through MIT's ECAT purchasing system, Dell will take back your old computer for FREE! As you step through the purchasing process, a page will appear towards the end of the order asking if you would like a box to ship back your old computer to Dell for recycling. Simply select this option and a box will be sent to you to return the old machine for free.

Furniture and Office Accessories

Save That Stuff!  When staff move on to other jobs, there may be a tendency to for the “new person” to order desk accessories, creating a cycle of ‘junk’.  When someone in your office moves on, collect their desk caddies and other organizational accessories; see if someone else will take them or store them in your supply area for the next user.

Before buying new office furniture, consider cleaning your existing furniture instead. See the Reuse section for information on procuring gently used furniture at MIT.

Herman Miller Designs—interior design products from desks and seating to shelving and lab casework. Herman Miller is recognized for their efforts in environmentally responsible manufacturing and sustainability.

InterFace carpeting—considering an office renovation? Replacing carpeting? InterFace specializes in carpeting and wall covering systems that reduce environmental impact.

Supplies

Think outside the box when ordering green office supplies!  MIT does have an extensive selection through Office Depot, but if you don’t see what you’re interested in, try the EcoEasy product selection from Staples, W.B. Mason’s Green Products Selection, or the Office Max line of green products.

MIT's eCAT system offers volume discount purchasing through Office Depot! Shop the Office Depot Green Book online (link is on the left navigation bar of MIT's Office Depot site) or go to SAPweb.

Recommended products include:

  • Office Depot® Brand Envirocopy™ Recycled Copy Paper, item # 940650
  • Pendaflex® Earthwise® 100% Recycled Hanging File Folders, Office Depot SKU: 938555
  • 3M Post-it® Recycled Paper Notes, 3" x 3", Assorted Pastel Colors, Office Depot SKU: 404079
  • Use the "Find Printer Supplies" tab on the left navigation bar. Find and select the remanufactured toner cartridge that fits your printer.
  • Seventh Generation non-toxic household/office cleaning products. Working Green encouraged Office Depot to green the cleaning supplies selection. You can order directly from Office Depot's ECAT site.