Purchasing

As you "green" your own business, you can encourage the companies you buy from to produce or purchase their products more sustainably as well. Make your purchasing dollars have an impact by choosing vendors and products that are organic, sustainable, recycled or recyclable.

Businesses, even small businesses, often use products such as paper, office equipment and cleaning supplies in bulk; by insisting on green products, you can have an impact on this market.

Search EPA's Green Products Portal for guidelines and standards for specific products.

We’ve grouped information on purchasing into three main categories:

Office Supplies/Equipment
  • Buy paper products with recycled content and no chlorine bleach.
  • Print on both sides of paper whenever possible.
  • Establish "reuse" area for paper and other supplies that can be used again.
  • Implement a recycling program and promote its use.
  • When you need to replace office equipment, choose energy-efficient products. Look for the ENERGY STAR label on computers, printers, copiers, fax machines and other devices.
  • Turn off office equipment at night, or when not in use for prolonged periods.

To calculate the environmental impact of your business' use of paper, use the Environmental Defense Fund's Paper Calculator.

Green Seal's offers help finding green products and services.

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Cleaning Supplies

Cleaning products are found throughout our homes and offices. Many are petroleum-based and may contain toxic ingredients such as chlorine or ammonia. In recent years, environmentally-friendly alternatives have become more widely available. Using these products not only reduces the environmental impact of your business, but also protects the health and safety of employees and janitorial staff.

  • If you purchase your own cleaning supplies, be wary of products labeled with terms like “eco-safe” or “eco-friendly” for which there are no defined legal standards. Look for truly safe ingredients such as citrus- and plant-based oils, sodium carbonate, sodium bicarbonate, sodium citrate, sodium silicate, enzymes, and non-chlorine bleach.
  • If you outsource your cleaning work to a janitorial service, make sure they use products that meet your standards for safety and environmental impact.

The Responsible Purchasing Guide for Cleaners offers a detailed and comprehensive overview of environmental issues, best practices, cost, quality and more.

Green Cleaning Pollution Prevention calculator developed by EPA can help your business determine the environmental impact of cleaning supplies.

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Travel and Events

When trying to green a business, travel and events can present tremendous opportunities to save energy, materials and money.

  • Don’t travel more than necessary, especially by air. Air travel consumes a huge quantity of energy, and the associated activities—hotel stays, restaurants, car rentals, etc.—are both consumption-oriented and expensive. Take advantage of teleconferencing or videoconferencing technology whenever possible.
  • Establish sustainability standards for events: use recycled, reusable and/or biodegradable food and beverage supplies, and collect excess materials after the event.
  • Provide clearly marked and accessible recycling containers for bottles, cans, plastic items, paper, etc.

The “Green” Hotels Association offers a list of member hotels, grouped by state, that have met certain criteria for environmental practices.

The Green Meetings Industry Council provides a collection of resources and information about planning green events.

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