Greener Purchasing & Suppliers
Purchasing seems like such an innocent act. Yet it can do
significant environmental damage when we are not aware of the
impacts of our choices. Purchasing has an enormous effect on
what processes are used to make and sell things, on pollution,
and on those resources that are taken out of their places in
Earth's living systems. That is because every product is tied to
the processes used to make it. As the Introduction stated, a
product can have powerful environmental impacts throughout its
entire life cycle, from the extraction of resources to its
production, use, and eventual disposal.
Together, state and
agencies purchase over
$900 billion of office
products and services
each year, wielding
power to help green
What to Purchase
1. Avoid buying more than you need by rotating products with limited shelf lives.
2. Buy products manufactured with non-toxic materials to be safer for the employee
and kinder to ecosystems by checking the labels.
3. When purchasing cleaning products (including personal work space cleaners), buy
products without hazardous contents that require special handling and disposal.
Check with your Right-to-Know Coordinator to determine if the product requires
any specialized disposal procedures. Check with product manufacturers to see if
they have Material Safety Data Sheets available for their products. These can
offer important information on the safety of and handling procedures for certain
4. Incorporate a requirement into your purchase order stating that you will not buy
products that contain banned or restricted substances, such as CFCs, arsenic, or
5. Whenever possible, incorporate a clause into purchase orders requiring products
both that contain recycled content (especially with post-consumer recycled
content) and that can be recycled when you are finished with them. Post-consumer
recycled content comes from products after they have been used and discarded.
(Pre-consumer content is material that comes from manufacturing leftovers, for
example. Although it is important to use scraps and other leftovers in production
to minimize waste, it does not close the production-purchasing-disposal loop the
way that post-consumer content does.) For suggested percentages of recycled
content, check the US EPA's Green Procurement Guidelines www.epa.gov/cpg.
PLEASE NOTE: The recycled-content products listed are not only desirable, they
have been required for agency purchasing since 1993. This mandate came in the
form of Management Directive Number 205.28 in April 1993 (with additional