Purchase Sustainably

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What we buy and how we dispose of it has profound implications for people and ecosystems locally and globally. One key action area in Princeton University’s Sustainability Action Plan is aimed at reducing waste and expanding sustainable purchasing. 

Responsible consumption includes ensuring diversity in the vendor pool and addressing social and environmental justice dimensions of products and services. Such concerns can encompass resource extraction, manufacturing, labor, transportation emissions, and/or disposal practices. Consider prioritizing the following criteria when making purchases:

Who made the item and where was it made:  

  • Item is made or sold by a diverse business owner(s) (e.g. BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) individuals, women, LGBT individuals, or veterans). Learn more about Princeton’s Supplier Diversity program.
  • Item meets labor and human rights standards (e.g. Fair Trade certified)
  • Item is made and/or sold locally or domestically

What the item is made from:

  • Item is durable and reusable
  • Item is biodegradable or compostable (note that some compostable materials may require industrial composting facilities, which are not widely available)
  • Item is recyclable
  • Item is non- or relatively less toxic to humans and the environment (e.g. certified organic)
  • For clothing and textiles, item is made from natural materials (e.g. recycled cotton, linen, hemp, etc.)