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It's not easy being green! - Kermit T. Frog   Home K-12 Schools 12 Steps toward Sustainability Administrative Purchasing

    Energy Star-rated products use considerably less energy than similar appliances, saving money as well as making an eco-conscious statement.
    Image courtesy U.S. Department of Energy
Administrative Purchasing

K-12 schools have administrative purchasing power that can be directed to create a sustainable society and support the local economy. By supporting businesses that provide sustainable products, a K-12 school can ensure the continuing viability of environmentally friendly industries. Additionally, many sustainable practices decrease expenses.

    It's best to purchase items that you know are environmentally friendly and encourage recycling. Items like recycled paper, all-natural soaps, and ink cartridge recycling boxes are cheap and easy ways to cut down on your class's carbon footprint.
  Organizational Assistance   Best Practices  
  • Only Buy What You Need
    Bulk purchasing is generally more economic for a large organization such as a school, but it can also waste materials and energy when excess supplies are discarded. Advances in technology can lead to many items being obsolete within a short period of time. These outdated technologies are generally less efficient and therefore waste energy through their continued use. Therefore, purchasing only what is required in the foreseeable future may save more money than possible savings generated by switching to more efficient technologies.
  • Buy Environmentally Friendly Products
    To further reduce environmental impact, purchase environmentally friendly products. Use plant derived inks and glues rather than synthetics, which are more toxic to the environment. Purchase paper that was not manufactured with toxic bleaches and chemicals. Consider purchasing wooden or straw furniture and low VOC carpeting. Low VOC carpeting reduces the amount of indoor air pollution and can improve the work environment. Wood and organic materials in furniture sequester carbon dioxide and can earn your buildings LEED points.
  • Use Energy Star Standards
    Energy Star products use less energy and are great investments. The additional cost of these products is paid back several times over during the product’s life cycle. Less energy use translates into lower energy bills and decreased pollution.
  • Buy Post Consumer Recycled Materials
    Recycled paper is now a very common product in office supply stores, but there are other post-consumer goods that a school can purchase. Ink cartridges which have been recycled, along with paper, aluminum, plastics, concrete and textiles are available through suppliers.
  • Include Sustainability in all Requirements for Providing Goods and Services
    When contracting a private company to provide a service, require the supplier to utilize environmentally friendly practices. Suppliers and contractors should embody ethics that parallel those of the school that they serve. In this manner, schools serve to make ensuring a sustainable future a factor in business competition.
  • Use Your Buying Power to Encourage Responsible Behavior in Suppliers
    Use your buying power to influence the market and encourage the growth of suppliers that are environmentally safe, renewable, and efficient. Purchasing from these producers will create an incentive for competitors to adopt more environmentally responsible business practices. If products are not offered or environmentally labeled from your normal suppliers, ask! Through such actions a school can encourage “Green” competition in the market.
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