The purpose of green purchasing is to guide consumers, businesses, and organizations in their purchasing choices by presenting options that align with protecting public health and the environment.
LHWMP can provide assistance in helping businesses to select less toxic items, evaluate potential purchases, and create contract language to specify less toxic good and services. Contact Tracee Mayfield at firstname.lastname@example.org
Green Purchasing is about how you choose between item A and item B while you are shopping. In addition to considering price, appearance, and effectiveness you also ask yourself “Which product most supports my health?” or “Which product most supports the health of the planet?”
EPA defines Green Purchasing as “choosing products or services that have a lesser or reduced effect on human health and the environment when compared with competing products or services that serve the same purpose. Comparison applies to raw materials, manufacturing, packaging, distribution, use, reuse, operation, maintenance, and disposal.”
Attributes are the measurable characteristics of a product. There are many attributes which people can (and do) use in evaluating the ‘greenness’ (aka effects on human health and the environment) of a purchase decision. Below are the four attributes we most commonly use:
Some toxins in products can directly impact human health. Some examples of these products include using solvent based paint in a room with the windows closed, or a toy with lead-based paint being chewed on by a young child.
Some products contain toxic chemicals, but are not likely to cause harm; either because there is such a small amount or because the chemical is unlikely to reach your body.
Carefully choosing products less likely to cause harm is one step you can take to protect health. Green purchasing goes a step further and attempts to reduce the overall amount of toxins in the environment today.
The primary focus is on carbon put into in the air during the lifecycle of the product.
This is basically about using recycled items and recycling what we use. The United Nations defines sustainability as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.
In most case, green purchasing requires an active commitment from the manufacturer in the form of providing you information about what is in the product and how it is made. Some questions to consider are:
King County Solid Waste’s ECO Consumer
Washington State Department of Ecology’s PBT Initiative
City of Seattle’s carbon footprint calculator.
EPA’s carbon footprint calculator.
Private company with interactive exercise on estimating carbon footprints.
Cradle to Cradle
EcoLabelling.Org - Non-profit organization discussing over 400 common product labels.
Eco Labels. For profit company (Consumer Reports) site on some mainstream labels.