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Sustainable Purchasing

Meet the Sustainable Purchasing Guide: This guide is a helpful tool that gives you the power to transform everyday purchases into action toward a more sustainable future. Whether you are buying for yourself or your whole department, this guide can help you make more informed, sustainable purchases.

Ready to make more informed, sustainable purchasing decisions for your office? Contact to request the Sustainable Office Worksheet, a resource designed by the Harvard Office for Sustainability to help purchasers follow best practices.


Practice Patience

Be mindful about the harms of an immediacy economy (e.g., next-day deliveries may have a higher emissions footprint than a 2-day order).

Right-Size Orders

Avoid excess by right-sizing orders of office materials and food for events.

BPI Compostable

Choose Reusable & Compostable

Choose BPI-certified compostable products when reusables are not a viable option.

Consider equity in the supply chain

Give preference to companies that have healthier and safer labor practices.

Prioritize durability

Purchase for quality and long-term durability, not quantity.

Reduce unnecessary packaging

Buy in bulk when needed to reduce unnecessary packaging.

Bulk Order

Stop Before Your Shop!

Do you need the product?

Can you share or borrow the product instead of purchasing it? Check with your department administrator if this resource already exists.

Recycle arrows icon in dark green.

What will happen to the product when you are done using it?

Can you reuse this product? Donate it? If not, what is the proper and most sustainable way to recycle this product? Learn more about zero waste.

Graphic, green icon of trees and shrubbery.

What are the impacts of the product?

What are the upstream resources necessary to create the product (Scope 3 emissions)? What are the supply chain impacts on climate, health, and equity?

Sustainable Purchasing Guide

Purchasing decisions can send signals to vendors, indicating a preference for more sustainable practices. Our community can influence market transformation by considering climate impacts and natural resources, as well as equity, health, and waste prevention when purchasing goods and services.


The Office for Sustainability (OFS) collaborated with Strategic Procurement and others across the University, including faculty and students, to create this Sustainable Purchasing Guide. The categories included represent some of the areas where the University spends the most, as well as categories where University-wide Sustainability Standards (Cleaning, Food, and IT) already exist.

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Sustainable Purchasing Guide Cover

Sustainability Resources

Explore sustainability resources at Harvard.

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Upcoming Events



5:30 pm-8:00 pm GMT+0000

Open to the Public

Climate and Interdisciplinary Health at Harvard, Part 2: A Focus on Translation of Research into Policy


Please register to join us on March 7th from 5:30-8pm for an interdisciplinary climate & health networking session and dinner. The event is the second in a three-part series sponsored by the Salata Institute. Each has a specific focus for guided discussion, and the topic for this event is Translation of Research into Policy. We have a panel of three incredible speakers lined up, who will share their insights on this topic from the vantages of academia, nonprofit organizations, government, and industry. The 45-minute panel discussion will be followed by a dinner and networking session for all attendees. The panel will have a virtual option for those who cannot attend the event in person.



1:00 pm-2:00 pm GMT+0000

Info Session

Salata Institute Climate Research Cluster Info Session III

Salata Institute for Climate and Sustainability

The Salata Institute is committed to supporting research that promises to make a real-world impact on the climate crisis. The Climate Research Clusters Program delivers on that commitment by funding research about complex climate problems that produces useful and practical solutions. Clusters comprise interdisciplinary, cross-School teams of researchers, whose varied expertise is required to address the complexity of the problems that they seek to solve. The problems are broad enough that their solutions represent significant progress in meeting the world’s climate challenge. As part of the program, a consultative process was created to facilitate the development of strong proposals to the Climate Research Clusters Program. This process includes Q&A sessions, a networking reception, presentations of proposed projects, and consultations with prospective project teams. While we encourage engagement in this process, participation in these events is optional. Join us for the first information session by registering below.



1:15 pm-2:30 pm GMT+0000

Open to the Public

Atmospheric Greenhouse Gases and Pollutants, and the Link to Environmental Justice

Environmental Justice
Greenhouse Gas
Salata Institute for Climate and Sustainability

Hear from Steven C. Wofsy, Professor of Atmospheric and Environmental Chemistry in the John A. Paulsen School of Engineering and Applied Science at Harvard University. He has degrees in Chemistry from University of Chicago (BS, 1966) and Harvard (Ph.D., 1971). His scientific work spans the broad range of processes affecting the chemistry of the atmosphere, including measurements and inverse modeling of regional and global emissions of carbon dioxide and methane from ground based, aircraft, and remote sensing measurements. His studies aim to understand underlying causes for change in atmospheric composition, in order to mitigate human impacts and to help provide scientific information for societal decisions. He is the science lead for the MethaneSAT (satellite) and MethaneAIR (aircraft) imaging spectrometers to measure methane enhancements and determine emissions from sources worldwide. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and recipient of the Macelwane Award and the Revelle Medal of the American Geophysical Union, and NASA’s Distinguished Public Service Medal.



3:00 pm-4:00 pm GMT+0000

Info Session

Climate and Sustainability Translational Fund Info Session


Join for an info session about the 2024 Climate and Sustainability Translational Fund. Learn about the fund’s benefits and important deadlines. Open to Harvard affiliates only. Pizza and refreshments provided.



6:00 pm-7:00 pm GMT+0000

Open to the Public

Growing Solar and Protecting Nature

harvard forest


8:00 am-5:00 pm GMT+0000

Open to the Public

BisNow: Building a Sustainable Boston: Carbon Footprint, BERDO 2.0 & Emerging Green Technology

Chief Sustainability Officer
Heather Henriksen
Sustainable Building

Hear from Harvard Chief Sustainability Officer Heather Henriksen as she speaks on a panel about partnerships and sustainable building at Bisnow’s “Building a Sustainable Boston: Carbon Footprint, BERDO 2.0 & Emerging Green Technology.”



6:00 pm-8:00 pm GMT+0000

The Environment Forum with Hiʻilei Hobart | What Returns, What Remains: A Story about Hawaiian Landscape and Dis/Possession

In February 2020, a group of Kanaka ‘Ōiwi cultural practitioners arrived in Cambridge, England, to repatriate ancestral remains stolen from Hawaiʻi in the late nineteenth century. This article explores the possession, return, and interpretation of these remains, specifically 14 iwi poʻo (human skulls) originating from the Pali, an important historic battle site in the Koʻolau mountain range of Oʻahu. In telling the story of their possession and dispossession, I draw upon theories of haunting from Indigenous studies and Black studies in order to challenge the way that settler colonial structures work to limit and potentially foreclose Hawaiian relationships to spiritual presence and placemaking. Drawing upon the Native Hawaiian concept of hoʻopahulu, which encompasses both spectrality and the exhaustion of land from over-farming in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian language), this article highlights connections between land, spirit, and haunting that provide a more comprehensive framework for understanding spectral placemaking beyond colonial geographies. In doing so, I argue against possessive logics, showing how contemporary Hawaiian cultural geogrpahies fundamentally refuse, upend, and replant relations that exceed the American state.

This event is co-sponsored by the Salata Institute for Climate and Sustainability

For full details, visit:



12:00 pm-2:00 pm GMT+0000

Open to the Public

Earth Day Celebration on Science Center Plaza

Earth Day
Harvard Office for Sustainability

Join the Harvard Office for Sustainability for an Earth Day Event on Thursday, April 18 from 12 to 2pm on the Science Center Plaza. Learn from and connect with Harvard groups tabling at the event.



12:00 pm-1:15 pm GMT+0000

The Greener Gender: Women Politicians and Deforestation in Brazil

This paper examines the impact of women’s political representation on deforestation rates in Brazil. Using close election regression discontinuity design, we show that women, when elected to office, are more likely to drive improved environmental outcomes due to factors such as reduced access to corrupt networks that influence the enforcement of environmental laws at the local level. Altogether, our findings demonstrate that women’s political representation significantly reduces deforestation rates in the Brazil.



11:00 am-2:00 pm GMT+0000

Open to the Public

Freecycle | April 2024

Harvard Waste and Recycling