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Green Buyer's Companion

Specific advice for purchasers...

Paints and varnishes

  • Many paints and varnishes contain toxic ingredients such as lead and white spirit.
Can of paint

How to buy green...

  • Where possible, purchase water or plant oil based paints and varnishes.
  • Consider using paints coloured with natural pigments.
  • Avoid paints and varnishes containing solvents.


  • Equipment left in standby mode is wasteful of energy.
  • Equipment disposed of carelessly will pollute the environment.
  • Waste printer cartridges comprise plastics, metal and residual toner that, when disposed of in landfill sites, degrade slowly and are polluting to the environment.

How to buy green...

  • Consider multifunctional equipment such as a combined printer, scanner and fax machine. See our Office and Technology Solutions pages for more information.
  • Consider opting for recycled or reburbished photocopiers.
  • Choose printers and copiers that are low energy consumers.
  • Use refillable toner cartridges.
  • Use low weight (i.e. 80gsm not 100gsm +) recycled papers.
  • Dispose of old or discarded equipment responsibly using County Supplies' IT Equipment Disposal Contract. Some items can be broken down into component parts and used again.


Swimming Pool Chemicals

  • Some algae-control chemicals contain environmentally damaging mercury or copper.

How to buy green...

  • Choose ammonia based chemicals which are less harmful to the environment.



Fridge Historically, fridges and freezers were the largest users of CFCs in both refrigerant and foam insulation but new models are now CFC-free.

How to buy green...

  • Some refrigerators contain ammonia or lithium which is better for the environment than CFCs. However, best of all is 'Greenfreeze' isobutane.
  • The Energy labelling scheme is now mandatory on all new domestic fridges and freezers. The best rated (A or A+), rather than cheapest option, should be selected as the long-term savings in the cost of electricity will easily outweigh any high initial cost.
  • Look for products within the County Supplies Catalogue of Goods and Services labelled with a 'Low Energy' logo.
  • Consider commercial refridgerators and freezers that are Carbon Trust Approved. Look out for the Carbon Trust logo.



  • Fully disposable pens, such as ballpoints, are wasteful of resources.

How to buy green...

  • Purchase pens and pencils made from recycled materials.
  • Consider pens that are refillable rather than disposable.
  • Purchase items, such as files and storage boxes, that are recyclable or are produced from recycled materials.
  • Avoid plastic-coated paperclips.
  • Purchase water-based, solvent-free highlighters, markers, correction fluids and glues.


Vehicles and Fuels

  • Motor vehicles are manufactured using enormous amounts of energy and polluting metals, paints, plastics and toxic chemicals.
  • Petrol and diesel engines produce carbon dioxide, lead, nitrous oxides and sulphur dioxide. These substances pollute the air and cause acid rain, global warming and respiratory problems.

How to buy green...

  • Catalytic converters fitted to the exhaust system reduce the emission of nitrous oxides and sulphur dioxide. However, the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide is still emitted by vehicles fitted with a catalytic converter.
  • Small engines use less fuel than larger ones and are cheaper to run.
  • Diesel produces less carbon dioxide emissions. However, it does release small particles which can cause respiratory problems such as asthma.
  • Consider using LPG or Bio Fuel where possible.


Washing Machines

  • Washing machines consume large quantities of water.
  • Washing machine Inefficient washing machines are wasteful of energy.
  • Some washing detergents can pollute water courses.

How to buy green...

  • When purchasing a washing machine, look for the Energy Label and select the most efficient machine available.
  • Wherever possible, use low temperature wash cycles.
  • Minimise water consumption by aiming for machines which use less than 100 litres of water per load and smaller quantities of washing powder.