Oberlin College has a history of progressive purchasing policy. For example, in June 1999 the college adopted a comprehensive Anti-Sweatshop Purchasing Policy that bans purchasing from vendors or manufacturers who engage in human rights abuses or poor labor practices. The Purchasing Department hires a student intern to research the human rights and labor histories of companies with which Oberlin does business. This intern makes recommendations to the Anti-Sweatshop Committee for vendors to add to an approved-vendors list. The most recent ban due to this policy was a campus-wide ban on Coca-Cola products stemming from the company’s failure to adequately address allegations of human rights abuses at a bottling plant in Columbia.

Eco-Purchasing Initiative

In an effort to implement Oberlin’s Environmental Policy Statement, a committee called the Eco-Purchasing Committee was created in September 2006. The Purchasing Department has tried over the years to initiate various efforts to encourage the purchase of environmentally preferable products with varying degrees of success. The Purchasing Department decided to hire a student Eco-Purchasing Intern beginning during the summer of 2006 to spearhead this work, leading to the creation of the Eco-Purchasing Committee. In April 2007 the Eco-Purchasing Committee finalized a comprehensive policy on environmentally preferable purchasing to unite the campus in this initiative. By implementing this policy, the college will commit to supporting businesses that are strong stewards of natural, social, and economic resources.

The Oberlin College Green Purchasing Policy was approved by the Committee on Environmental Sustainability on April 19, 2007 and by President Dye on May 16th.

Recycled Products Co-op

The Recycled Products Co-op (RPC) is a student group that began in 2005. The RPC collects used office supplies and redistributes them for a donation. This donation is used to buy recycled products that can be sold at-cost to make recycled goods an economically viable option for a wider range of people. The college has supplied the RPC with start-up money to purchase its first round of bulk recycled-content products and has also supplied the group with space to house their wide assortment of donated reuseable office supplies. The RPC’s double-pronged approach of both reusing items when possible and selling at-cost bulk recycled-content products allows them to successfully meet a wide range of demands.