Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Avoiding unnecessary purchases

Reduce waste - avoiding unnecessary products

By considering if you need to buy a particular product or service you can reduce your impact on the environment, save money and resources, and reduce waste and pollution.

If you assess your need to buy a product or service you may decide you don't need to make a purchase.

Before making a purchase, consider if you could cut down how much you buy, for example you could:

  • reuse an existing resource, eg redistributing IT equipment within your business
  • use a service rather than buying a product, eg renting your office furniture, but make sure that the products you hire are sustainable
  • buy longer lasting products, eg durable products that can be repaired and upgraded
  • avoid disposable products, eg using china plates and mugs instead of paper or plastic, or using rechargeable batteries
  • improve storage and stock control to help reduce waste and to only buy what you need, ie 'just in time' stock control
  • work with your suppliers to reduce their materials or resources, eg by using less packaging for transporting goods, alternative fuels for vehicles or renewable energy during manufacturing
  • encourage staff to use products efficiently, eg using energy efficient features will help reduce your energy use and carbon emissions
  • buy more efficient products, eg equipment that can perform multiple tasks like copying, printing and faxing, or that use renewable power, eg solar powered monitoring equipment or external lighting
  • buy items that can be taken back by the supplier or reused or recycled, eg using carpet tiles instead of sheet carpet - you can also replace these individually if damaged
  • buy products that have separable parts and can be repaired more easily.

Managing your purchasing

Once you have assessed whether you need to buy a product or service, you can start to consider how you can do this more sustainably.

In this Guideline

Benefits of buying sustainable goods and services

Avoiding unnecessary purchases

How to make your buying more sustainable

Buying products and services with environmental labels

Top tips for buying key goods and services sustainably

Selecting a sustainable supplier

Environmentally friendly products and services - further information

Things to consider when buying goods or services for your business

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