University Sustainability

Defining Sustainability since 1899

Sustainable Purchasing at App State

Appalachian State University’s Office of Sustainability and the Division of Materials Management are committed to sustainable purchasing on campus. Sustainable purchasing supports carbon reduction and encourages the procurement of goods that are environmentally preferred and socially responsible when economically feasible or comparable in function. Faculty, staff and students are encouraged to implement sustainable purchasing practices when feasible.

What is Sustainable Purchasing?

Sustainable purchasing is the practice of purchasing goods that serve the same functional purpose as traditional products but mitigate negative effects on human health and the environment. This includes evaluating products throughout their entire life cycle, known as a life cycle assessment — from extraction, production, use and disposal, to re-use or recycling.

Sustainable products often share some or all of the following characteristics:

  • Made from some or all recycled content
  • Reduced energy and water usage
  • Minimized waste and pollution
  • Produced using renewable energy
  • Sourced or produced locally
  • Socially responsible
  • Low carbon emissions, low volatile organic compounds (VOCs)

Why Purchase Sustainably?

Sustainable purchasing ensures responsible resource management, improves human health, enhances fiscal responsibility and carries climate justice benefits.

Environmentally preferable procurement, or Green Purchasing, gives you the power to “close the loop” on waste.  It involves purchasing products or services that have a reduced adverse effect on health and the environment. It can include the purchase of recycled content products, bio-based products, energy and water efficient products, renewable energy products and alternative fuel vehicles. As populations increase, there is more demand for raw materials, meaning that eventually supplies of those materials will be depleted. The best way to keep that from happening is to buy recycled and close the loop. NC DEQ Purchasing

Social responsibility through supplier diversity is sourcing from businesses that are owned or operated by individuals who belong to groups that have historically faced barriers to employment and/or economic opportunity. These may include, for example, businesses that are owned or operated by women, minorities and/or veterans. A supplier diversity program encourages sourcing from businesses that are owned and/or operated by historical minorities, women, veterans or LGBTQ+ individuals, or those who have been historically disadvantaged in the marketplace for other reasons. Supplier diversity has many benefits, including customer satisfaction, cost savings and investor relations.

Green Purchasing Guidelines

Anyone can participate, it’s easy! Whether you are buying goods for the office, or even your home or a friend, finding sustainably sourced products is usually just a keyword and click away. The following guide denotes how to find these products and what to look for when shopping from your favorite suppliers.

  • Do you really need that or can you avoid the purchase?
  • Look first for surplus items before ordering new items.
  • Does another department have a surplus of this product they are willing to share?
  • Does another department have this product but they are not using it?
  • Can the existing product be economically and sustainably refurbished?
  • Is a used version of the product available? Consider purchasing used or remanufactured products whenever practical and cost effective without compromising safety, quality or performance.
  • Environmentally and socially responsible
  • Made by businesses owned by marginalized groups- HUBs
  • Durable and built to last
  • Made from recycled material(s) or material derived from a renewable resource
  • Made from material that can be fully recycled after use or at end of life
  • Made with replaceable or repairable parts
  • Energy and water efficient
  • Easily disassembled for appropriate recycling at end of life
  • Order supplies in bulk to reduce deliveries and packaging waste.
  • Choose sustainable products:
    • tree free, or at least 50% post-consumer recycled content paper products
    • Energy Star rated tech and appliances
    • Organic or recycled content fabrics for shirts and uniforms.
    • Recycled or refillable ink and toner cartridges.
  • Request minimum packaging necessary and maximize recycling from suppliers
  • Support local and marginalized vendors — Historically Underutilized Businesses (HUBs)
  • Utilize App State’s online marketplace (Yo-Mart, Central Warehouse).

Sustainable Event Planning

Utilize the Office of Sustainability GreenSuite Program to plan your events sustainably. This will minimize waste, support sustainable products and provide cost-effective solutions for your event.

  • Establish sustainable event goals to prevent unnecessary waste, such as bring your own bottle (BYOB).
  • Go digital! Utilize digital flyers and QR codes to promote the event on social media and for sharing purposes. This will prevent unnecessary paper usage.
  • Procure reusable decorative items for future use.
  • Source merchandise that is ethically and environmentally responsible and able to be reused for future events.


Search for products from the Sustainability Center page:

Office Depot

Search for products from the GreenerOffice page:


Use “green” or “recycled” filters when searching.

Under product descriptions, look for the “green” or “recycled” tags.

Click the “Green” or “Recycled” product flag filters to view environmentally friendly supplies. Under the item description and price, look for “Green & Recycled.”


In alignment with North Carolina State Policy, Appalachian State University encourages the utilization of Historically Underrepresented Businesses (HUB). This includes, but is not limited to, businesses that are owned by minorities, those who are female-identifying and/or disabled persons. To find products or services that are HUB owned, please use the following resources:

A sustainable purchasing workshop is provided to faculty and staff through HR professional development opportunities. In alignment with Appalachian State University’s sustainable purchasing commitments, the Office of Sustainability will be hosting a training session to educate and increase awareness of the importance of sustainable purchasing in order to develop sustainable business practices that are socially just, environmentally responsible and ethical. This includes discussions of Historically Underutilized Businesses (HUBs), as well as Environmentally Preferred Purchasing products (EPP) that reduce the negative impacts of production on the environment and human health. Please join us and be part of the conversation! Contact if interested.

Sustainable Campus Commitments

App State requires all business affairs to follow ethical and socially responsible workers rights. This Code of Conduct ensures that all vendors provide workers with a safe working environment and liveable wages, as well as inclusion of employees who are people of color and all genders.

Campus Dining is committed to zero waste through thoughtful upstream strategies — from food recovery and donation, to reuse and recycled uniforms.

As caretakers of the campus’s buildings, grounds and energy usage, Facilities Operations strives to be good stewards of our environment. Learn about the division’s Green Initiatives

We strive to use as many Green Seal, EcoLogo and EPA Design for Environment (DfE) certified products as possible. Products bearing these logos are certified by independent nonprofit organizations to have met rigorous performance, health, and environmental criteria. To learn more, read our green cleaning policy.

University Housing is committed to sustainability and sustainable purchasing efforts.

App State IT Support Services utilizes centralized printing to minimize the usage of individual printers. This reduces the amount of energy consumption, lessens unnecessary printing and combats pollution and resource consumption.

Appalachian State University’s standards for computer purchasing meet EPEAT standards. All recommended computers are EPEAT Gold Certified. EPEAT®-registered products meet strict environmental criteria. From fewer toxins in manufacturing, to efficient operation and easier recycling, EPEAT-registered products offer a reduced environmental impact across their life cycles.

IT Support Services manages electronic waste through donation to E2D and Kramden Institute in order to refurbish spent equipment, eliminate the digital divide and provide computer capabilities to those in need right here in NC. These programs also provide training and employment opportunities for high school students, introducing them to the IT industry.

Information Technology Services (ITS) is partnering with the Office of Sustainability to reduce negative impacts and manage a more sustainable future for printing.

In May 2023, ITS will be migrating campus printers to PaperCut printer management software to

reduce costs, streamline user experience and IT printer management, minimize waste with a projected 20% cut in paper use and reduce energy consumption.

PaperCut will replace Pharos, our current print management system for students, and will eliminate all Windows print queues, thus consolidating our printing into one system.

What to Expect
PaperCut will allow printing from any device on campus with either the swipe of your AppCard or by entering your username and password.

PaperCut promotes sustainability by encouraging responsible printing practices, such as double-sided printing, color printing only when necessary and restricting unnecessary printing.

PaperCut enhances document security by enabling print release features that ensure sensitive documents are not printed until the authorized user is present.

Additional Energy & Cost Savings
We will continue to reduce energy usage by working to lower the number of unmanaged network printers. Unmanaged network printers are non-Sharp printers on the campus server. Additionally, there are desktop printers not on the network but that are managed by individual departments or units. It is cheaper, more secure and uses less energy to print through the energy star Sharp Copiers, soon to be managed by PaperCut through ITS, than any other printing solution.

Campus Dining uses local, sustainable produce from App State’s Blackburn Vannoy Farm. This supports sustainable agriculture farmers and introduces people to affordable, accessible and healthy eating options.

In order to increase historically underutilized businesses participation in procurement activities, the goal of the Purchasing Department at Appalachian State University is to promote the economic opportunities for historically underutilized businesses in State Government contracting and procurement that will foster their growth and profitability. To increase these opportunities, our office is actively soliciting formal and informal quotes for goods and services for Appalachian State University from vendors who are listed as Historically Underutilized Businesses where available.

The Mountaineer Free Store carries interview clothing, hygiene items, winter gear, school supplies, household items and various other goods. This resource was developed as a way to reduce our consumption and provide resources to the campus community while educating on the benefits of a zero waste lifestyle.

In fall 2021, the Skip the Bag Program was launched in Campus Dining markets and University Bookstore locations. If customers choose to forgo a plastic bag, they receive a wooden nickel, which represents the .05 cents that App State University donates to an organization the customer chooses. In fall 2021, Mountaineers diverted 68,000 plastic bags from the landfill.

App State’s graduation regalia is made with 100% post-consumer recycled plastic bottles. For App State’s 2022 Spring Commencement ceremonies, approximately 100,000 plastic bottles were diverted from the landfill. GreenWeaver is manufactured in the USA, which reduces transportation emissions.

App State’s Textbook Rental Program, launched in summer 2021, provides digital materials, reducing the manufacturing energy of textbooks as well as materials used, such as paper.

Since 1990, University Recreation has purchased its mountain climbing equipment from Misty Mountain Threadworks. This includes harnesses for indoor and outdoor climbing programs, sewn slings, runners and, more recently, bouldering pads. Misty Mountain Threadworks is a local company in Watauga County that manufactures high-quality mountain climbing equipment Misty Mountain Threadworks manufactures locally, which reduces transportation emissions to App State. To further decrease App State’s carbon footprint, the company will send an employee who lives in Boone to drop the gear off on their commute home (Richard Campbell, Associate Director of University Recreation).

App State is dedicated to achieving zero waste by reducing consumption, carefully considering purchasing decisions and diverting waste from landfills. Composting and recycling efforts have diverted waste from landfills, which decreases App State’s carbon footprint.