Sustainable purchasing (often called sustainable procurement) not only allows your school or centre to have more environmentally friendly options, but also supports companies that are doing environmental good. If everyone does this 'voting with your dollar', it will also put more pressure on large companies to implement more sustainable practices as they compete for the conscious consumer.
Steps for putting sustainable purchasing into practice
- Identify all consumables and commodities
- List those that have an environmental effect that could be reduced
- Identify the costs of alternatives and the impact each will have
- Make a prioritized list based on largest positive environmental impact for lowest cost
- Apply a sustainable procurement strategy to those priorities
- Track success and positive impact
For help formulating a strategy follow the Guide 1 to Sustainable Procurement Identifying Sustainable Procurement Priorities
Sending paper, card, plastics and other material to recycling is a new beginning, not the end of the story, even though it may feel as casual as throwing waste 'away' to landfill! The recycling process may up-cycle materials, to make them more valuable or gradually down-cycle them - such as turning high grade paper to low grade paper or card, which may last for five or more 'cycles' before its only good for compost.
If you send items away to be recycled, you should be prepared to buy products made from recycled materials. That way you are supporting the system, rather than just contributing at the beginning of it.
By researching brands and their policies around sustainability you can make informed decisions when you buy. Many products available these days are made from sustainable materials or byproducts from other manufacturing processes. For example Smartass products are made from bamboo, and bagasse, a sugarcane waste product. In many ways this is better than buying products made from recycled materials as it uses resources that would otherwise be discarded.
Supporting companies that have transparent and thorough environmental policies shows it is valuable and important to you and your company; this in turn puts pressure on others to compete for the conscious consumer.
Some Examples of Sustainable options
Cleaners: Ecostore, Figgy & Co
Toilet Paper: Office Max, Smartass
Postage Options: Jiffy Bags,
Printing paper: Office Max
Notebooks and Diaries: Frank Stationery,
Pens and Markers: My Mojo Eco Stationery