Sustainable Purchasing

As the market for environmentally conscious supplies and products is exploding, it is becoming much easier to find "green" products. In areas where your organization can't reduce or reuse your products, sustainable purchasing is the best option. Plastic, glass, and tin products can often be "post-consumer recycled," and many disposable products are now made with bio-based materials so that they can be composted or at least decompose more easily. Make room in your budget for these purchases, and set up a policy that encourages sustainable purchasing.

We can make smart, sustainable choices in all aspects of our organizations, and this includes our purchase and disposal of textile, furniture and flooring. Flame retardants often used in electronics, mattresses, and other furnishings are known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers and are linked with endocrine disruption and neuro-developmental effects. These brominated flame retardants have been found to leach out of consumer products and accumulate in the environment and in our bodies and food supplies. As the furniture contents break down, the brominated flame retardants are released into the air in room dust and accumulate on surfaces and can be inhaled and ingested. Thankfully, there are plenty of environmentally conscious and sustainably sourced alternatives on the market. When it comes to disposal of furniture, textiles, and flooring, re-purposing and refurbishing are always the best options, but if this isn't possible, it's most sustainable to donate these items to an organization in need of them or to an institution with the means of recycling them.

Cleaning products are often overlooked when it comes to sustainability. Surprisingly, even low level exposures to some of the chemicals routinely found in many of the products used to clean our homes pose significant health risks to our families. These toxic substances include chemical disinfectants, fragrances, surfactants and solvents and are known to trigger eye, skin and throat irritation, chronic respiratory and neurological diseases, endocrine disruption, kidney or liver damage, and certain types of cancer. Cleaning products can also pollute drinking water when they are rinsed down sink drains and flushed down toilets. While there is no legal definition of "green" products, you may find products that provide full disclosure of ingredients and contain simple, non-toxic ingredients. You can also make your own safe cleaners from simple household ingredients. For more information, please visit: www.grassrootsinfo.org. For The ChildSafe School Guidelines for Green Cleaning Products in Schools, please visit: www.thechildsafeschool.org

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Textiles, Furniture, and Flooring

Post signage explaining your institution's non-toxic furniture and/or flooring
1 points
Education
Host an event about sustainable forestry
2 points
Education
Purchase only low or no VOC paints
3 points
Action
Purchase sustainable couches and fabrics that are flame retardant free
3 points
Action
Green your procurement policy
3 points
Advocacy
More info
Purchase green furniture
4 points
Action
More info
Purchase green carpeting
4 points
Action
More info

Green Cleaning

Minimize waste from cleaning supply
2 points
Action
More info
Train staff on how to use green cleaning products
2 points
Education
More info
Educate about how to switch to green cleaning options
2 points
Education
Advocate to eliminate toxins in products
3 points
Advocacy
More info
Incorporate green cleaning requirements into contracts with vendors
4 points
Action
Purchase non-toxic cleaning products
4 points
Action
More info
Post signage about green cleaning efforts at your institution
1 points
Education
Switch to reusable cleaning cloths
1 points
Action
More info

Office Supplies

Post signage explaining purchasing policies for specific products
1 points
Education
Purchase extended use products like rechargeable batteries
2 points
Action
Audit supply chain for office supplies to determine product sources
2 points
Education
Purchase sustainable paper
2 points
Action
More info
Purchase bio-based products
2 points
Action
More info
Green your purchasing policy
4 points
Advocacy
More info

Art and Play Supplies

Reuse and upcycle supply
2 points
Action
More info
Educate about toxins in products
2 points
Education
More info
Use reclaimed or recycled materials for art projects
3 points
Action
Purchase or make toxin-free art supplies
3 points
Education
Purchase toxin-free sports and play equipment
3 points
Action
Install a natural playground
5 points
Action
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