“Since July 1, 2009 through March 1, 2010 DePaul has recycled over 41,000lbs of electronic goods with Vintage Tech”.
DePaul has an enrollment over 25,000, each student most likely equipped with several notebooks, multiple textbooks, laptop, pens and pencils. The total population of students and faculty consuming resources adds up. The Financial affairs department at DePaul has taken notice and through their procurement services has begun to track the sustainability initiatives of current vendors. Along with providing a list of preferred vendors, procurement services institutes it’s own internal sustainable initiatives to reduce the amount of paper and ink used. Additionally, they have instituted a safe and effective way for university departments to dispose of unneeded equipment through their salvage program. The combination of all three initiatives represents a comprehensive step forward for DePaul when it comes to sustainability.
Purchasing power of a university such as DePaul is a powerful tool. Tracking the sustainability and reporting of vendors allows for all members of the university to knowingly or unknowingly cooperate and encourages vendors reliant on universities money to comply with sustainable practices. Refusing to purchase from vendors that report unsustainable practices the university contributes to a broader movement beyond the campus. The message reverberates throughout campus as well. On campus it is made clear that DePaul actively practices what it preaches and fosters a community of knowledgeable and conscious consumers. Students and faculty can take pride in these efforts and more importantly are better enabled to participate themselves by purchasing school supplies produced in a responsible manner that may have been cost prohibitive if not bought through the university.
Conscious consumption is only half of the equation for the DePaul. Internal initiatives, such as a digitalizing forms and increasing awareness about wasteful practices develops DePaul’s message to a greater degree. Promoting responsible disposal through the salvage program brings the procurement services sustainable practices full circle. The University Salvage Store works on two levels. The first level allows for all university departments to cut down on their waste and prevent used but working hardware and equipment from ending up in a landfill. Secondly, it offers people on a limited budget to buy needed equipment to aid their education. This program reverses a trend among vendors to produce goods that deteriorate in a short period of time and forces them to produce high quality products that last many years. Salvaged equipment sustains new businesses that are adhering to ideals of sustainability. Vintage Tech is an example of a responsible company that benefits financially from universities selling or donating used electronics and creates an economy for recycled goods that may not survive if they relied predominantly on private consumers.
DePaul’s urban setting is a large obstacle in attaining sustainability since they are dependent upon outside resources and are confine to small area. The financial affairs department and especially the procurement services have done an excellent job in moving forward DePaul practice and message of sustainability in spite of this. They have created incentives to pursue sustainable production and consumption within DePaul and added to the growing number of voices demanding environmentally responsible production goods. Educating students about sustainability, operating through sustainable methods are two highlighted aspects of any sustainable movement. Incorporating sound procurement practices demonstrates DePaul’s commitment to an all-inclusive approach towards sustainability.
Image Credit: Vintage Recycles-Kevin Nestor