By Jonelle Kimbrough/DPWJanuary 27, 2012
By FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Consider your last purchase. Did you contemplate the environmental impacts of your transaction? Probably not.
However, every purchase, from a box of copier paper to a bottle of hand soap; from a new television to a new vehicle, has environmental impacts that affect consumers both directly and indirectly.
Upon making your next acquisition, consider the advantages of buying "green." Buying "green" involves purchasing products that conserve natural resources and prevent pollution. As a federal agency, Fort Bragg must comply with executive orders to advance sustainable acquisitions and purchase environmentally preferable products. While environmentally preferred purchasing is a mandatory measure, green procurement practices also have many practical benefits.
Additionally, green purchasing is a simple goal to accomplish because there are environmentally preferable versions of many of the products used in daily operations.
What are enviromentally preferable products?
There are six primary characteristics of environmentally preferable products.
They are energy efficient.
They are bio-based or utilize renewable materials as their main components.
They are water efficient.
They are non-ozone depleting.
They are recyclable or contain recycled content.
They are non-toxic or less toxic alternatives to other products.
How are enviromentally preferable products beneficial?
Environmentally preferable products are beneficial in a variety of ways.
First, the use of environmentally preferred products reduces the consumption of new materials and therefore reduces the consumption of both finite and renewable natural resources. According to the California Department of Conservation, one ton of recycled content paper saves:
2.5 cubic yards of landfill space
60 pounds of air pollution
4,100 kilowatt hours of energy, and
7,000 gallons of water
Additionally, environmentally preferable products require less water and energy in the production process than items manufactured from new materials. For example, producing a plastic bottle from recycled materials uses only two-thirds of the energy required to produce the same plastic bottle from new materials. Also, production processes for recycled materials create fewer emissions than production processes for new materials. Thus, manufacturers and consumers conserve fiscal resources because they are consuming and paying for fewer natural resources.
Environmentally preferred products also reduce waste, pollution and the presence of hazardous substances in our homes, offices and environment. As a result, these products decrease potential soil, water and air contamination to improve public health and safety, and they can reduce costs associated with waste management, disposal and environmental restoration.
Furthermore, green purchasing provides an outlet for recycled materials and creates a market for environmentally preferable products. In turn, the practice creates jobs in many sectors of the manufacturing, retail and recycling industries. And, environmentally preferred purchasing reduces liabilities for Fort Bragg as a government entity and maintains our compliance with federal regulations regarding environmentally preferred purchasing, most notably EOs 13423 and 13514.
How can I buy green?
Many of the common items we use in our daily lives have green alternatives.
Consider environmentally preferred cleaning products that contain biodegradable, plant-based or non-toxic cleansers.
Instead of purchasing canned or packaged foods, visit a community farmer's market to purchase fresh foods and support your local economy.
Exchange chemical-laden cosmetics and self-care products for those with natural ingredients such as plant extracts and minerals, which are safer for your health and the environment.
Purchase paper products, office supplies and household supplies manufactured with recycled content. Section 2D of Executive Order 13423 requires federal government agencies, such as Fort Bragg, to purchase paper with a minimum of 30 percent post-FORT consumer waste.
When buying electronics, purchase Energy Star items.
If you are in the market for a new vehicle, consider a hybrid or flex fuel model.
Choose products with less packaging or recycled content packaging.
Choose recyclable items and reusable products instead of disposable products.
Mandatory sources of supply for government purchase card holders.
Self Service Supply Center on Macomb Street, Department of Defense DoD E-Mall at https://dod-emall.dla.mil/Defense Logistics Agency at www.dla.mil; GSA Advantage! at www.gsaadvantage.gov.
The responsibility for implementing government-mandated environmentally preferred purchasing practices lies not within any single organization or with any particular individual, but with every person involved in the procurement process. With all of the benefits and ease of buying green, your environmentally preferred purchases can sustain the future of Fort Bragg as a viable, functional, military installation -- the right way … the green way … all the way.
For more information, visit www.epa.gov/epp.