Being conscious of what your school purchases and how those purchases affect the environment is a preemptive strategy for making your school green. Environmentally responsible procurement has two main components. The first is to develop a policy where your school decides why its important to purchase environmentally friendly products, what qualities make a product environmentally friendly, and which items you want to focus on when you consider making more responsible purchases. The second component of responsible procurement is applying your policy to the purchasing decisions you actually make, considering the cost, quality, and quantity of each item and how it fits into your budget.

The purchasing policy you develop can not only have an enormous impact on your school’s ecological footprint, but the health of your fellow staff and students. For example, the cleaning products you buy directly affect the health of everyone in the building and the health of the environment when they are disposed. According to Healthy Cleaning, there has been a 25% increase in cancer rates among children 15 years-old and younger in the past 25 years. Could this be linked to the increasing number of everyday chemicals they are exposed to? Just in the last 40 years, 70,000 new chemicals have been produced and are being released into the environment according to Healthy Cleaning. An environmentally responsible purchasing policy in your school could have a direct influence on everyone in your building and can help be a force of change in the economy.

The Center for Environmental Education is working to bring you more guidance and resources to help you develop and utilize a purchasing policy in your school.

Want to get started right away? Check out this helpful guide for developing an environmental purchasing policy from New American Dream.

For guidance in policy and procurement of specific items, reference these guides provided by the Responsible Purchasing Network:

For additional guidance, consider Buying for the Future: Contract Management and the Environmental Challenge by Kevin Lyons, Director of the purchasing department at Rutgers University. The book covers the ins and outs of environmental purchasing policies, processes, and strategies, including environmental contracts, recycling practices, and even how to reach out to the local community with your actions.