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Sustainable 2nd Century

Sustainable 2nd Century

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Take Action: Buy Smart

Your challenge: Reduce waste before you spend a dime.

Avoid buying new

Photo: Old computers and supplies stacked on shelves

Aggie Surplus sells surplus campus supplies, from computer equipment to office furniture.

Before making a purchase, consider what you already have. Could something you own work just as well or better than something new? Using available resources can help save money and reduce waste, for staff and students.

If you still need to acquire something, check with Aggie Surplus first. From chairs to computers, they sell surplus equipment, furniture and supplies at a discount to UC Davis employees, students and community members. All of the products at Aggie Surplus are used or excess, so buying from Aggie Surplus can turn one department's discards into someone else's cost savings.

Aggie Surplus also has free items to help facilitate swaps between offices of desktop organizers, phones, binders and other common office supplies.

You can also find gently used items at the Aggie Reuse Store. The store's mission is to divert materials from the landfill and to redistribute them at low cost for reuse or repurposing. Anyone can shop at and donate to the store, which is located at 163 Memorial Union, across from the ASUCD Post Office and Campus Copies.

Consider your equipment’s efficiency as a cost

The full cost of a product is not just its purchase price; its energy use, future repair costs, life span until replacement and possible water efficiency should be added to its total cost when choosing what appliances or other equipment to buy.

When it comes to choosing a product, many resources are available to help make efficient purchasing decisions. University of California policy states that all equipment purchased should be Energy Star qualified, if available. UC Davis also encourages sustainable purchasing with a variety of tools, databases and certification processes that can help make sense of your choices.

UC Davis is also seeking ways to make saving energy economically attractive to campus units, by offering rebates and exchange programs for inefficient equipment currently in use.

Refrigerators and freezers: Campus units that own a refrigerator or freezer purchased before 1995 should consider replacing or retiring the appliance. A rebate is available for units that choose to upgrade their older, inefficient refrigeration models. Units who decide to retire a refrigerator or freezer entirely can also receive a monetary award. Disposing of the old appliance is also made easier with help from Facilities Management and Aggie Surplus.

Printers: Your unit can buy a newer, more efficient printer to replace more inefficient Hewlett Packard models, thanks to the campus's ability to pool its purchasing power.

Reduce packaging and paper use

Photo: Package of recycled paper

UC Davis policy requires all printer and copier paper to have a minimum of 30 percent recycled post-consumer waste.

Packaging, paper and packing materials should also be considered at the time of purchase.

UC Davis policy states that packing materials should be non-toxic, biodegradable,100-percent post-consumer recycled content that is recyclable or reusable, or not excessive.

Try these strategies for reducing packaging waste:

Electronic alternatives to printing are strongly encouraged, including e-mail, forms and handouts. When hard copies are necessary, paper for printing and copying at UC Davis is required by policy to contain at least 30 percent recycled post-consumer waste. Printing both sides of the page should be the default setting of all campus printers; for paper that is printed on only one side, employees are encouraged to use the blank side as note paper before recycling it. 

Campus publications are printed on recycled paper, are encouraged to transition to electronic versions and should be routed or publicly posted to reduce duplicate copies in a department or office. UC Davis moved its campus directory online in 2008, and also issues electronic pay statements, instead of paper copies.

Buy reusables instead of disposables

Photo: Aggieware

Use reusable Aggieware instead of disposable plates and silverware.

Buying something that can be reused means fewer purchases and fewer trips to the trash can. Reusable goods can be substituted for most disposables, including paper towels, disposable razors, one-time batteries, paper napkins and plastic forks.

Though the price for reusable goods is often higher than its disposable counterpart, the actual costs should be considered over the life span of the reusable good. For example, Student Housing purchased Aggieware reusable dishes for a one-time cost of $17,000 after estimating that they previously spent $8,000 per year on disposable plates and utensils.

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