Advancing Safer Chemicals in Products: The Key Role of Purchasing

Download the document.

This report describes the potentially harmful environmental and health impacts associated with some of the chemicals in products commonly used by public agencies and businesses, and how six organizations—Seattle City Light, Oregon Environmental Council, Perkins+Will, Danish retailer Coop, Kaiser Permanente, and the National Institutes of Health — are taking leadership roles to identify and screen out toxic substances in the products they purchase. The report discusses the role that ecolabels play in helping purchasers source safer products, and also the lessons learned from the experiences of these leading organizations who have gone beyond ecolabels.

Among the lessons learned are:

  • Understand and identify the potentially harmful substances in the products your organization is purchasing, and set priorities to phase them out
  • Create a strong toxics reduction policy based on these priorities, and follow up with specifications that will put your policy into action
  • Include a broad range of chemicals and products
  • Engage employees and suppliers in your efforts to ensure that your goals are understood, safer products identified, and there are open channels for feedback
  • Build a broad network that can help you understand changing science and keep up with best practices.

Webinar: Strategies and Tools for Purchasing Products with Safer Chemistries

Wed, Sep 30, 2015 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM CDT
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There are tens of thousands of chemicals in commerce in the United States, many of which may have a range of negative impacts on health, the environment, and the economy during their lifecycle. It should be a key part of any sustainable purchasing program to understand which of these chemicals could pose hazards in products and services procured, and how to find safer alternatives.

The Lowell Center for Sustainable Production, Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council, Responsible Purchasing Network, and Green Electronics Council have joined together to present this webinar on steps that public and private institutions can take to purchase products with safer chemistries.

The webinar will cover a new report from the sponsoring organizations on how six leading institutions have taken advanced steps to purchase products with safer chemistries, including how they are engaging with their staff, suppliers, and other stakeholders. The webinar will also identify key steps that can be taken by purchasers who are just starting to look at chemicals in the products they buy, as well as those who are more advanced in doing so, including understanding ecolabels.

Where to Buy a Safe Couch

Read the full post at CityLab.

Recently I wrote about the high rates of cancer among firefighters, which many researchers believe are driven by their exposure to flame retardants and other chemicals in burning furniture.

But it’s not just firefighters’ health that might be threatened by flame retardants, which still lace most furniture and electronics. Even in the absence of a fire, our sofas and TVs are constantly sloughing off these chemicals, which some studies link to thyroid and other endocrine problems.


SC Johnson makes steady progress on improving its ingredients list

Read the full story in The Guardian.

The idea is to lower the impact of its cleaning and household products on the environment and on human health.

This Company Does Something Cool With Something Most of Us Recycle

Read the full story in HuffPost Green.

Most of us see old milk jugs as something for the recycle bin (or, in the case of one blogger, the makings of a D.I.Y. Storm Trooper helmet). But for toy maker Green Toys, the plastic jugs become the start of something fun: toys.

Green Toys’ line — which ranges from kitchen sets to vehicles piloted by little bears — is made completely from recycled milk jugs. To date, the company has recycled over 24,000,000 jugs. The plastic that milk jugs are made out of is called high-density polyethylene. Since this type of plastic is used for food storage, it is also safe for children. Green Toys products pass several safety tests, including the FDA regulation for food contact.

Learn About the Safer Choice Label

From the web site:

For the past 15 years EPA’s label for safer chemical products has been known as the Design for the Environment, or the “DfE,” label. We spent more than a year collecting ideas and discussing new label options with stakeholders, such as product manufacturers and environmental and health advocates. Then we took our ideas to consumers and asked what worked best for them. The result is the new Safer Choice label.

The Last Oil Filter You’ll Ever Have To Buy

Read the full story in Fast Company.

Strapped to the bottom of your car like a colostomy bag full of dinosaur goo, oil filters are disgusting. Worse? They’re biohazards. Because they’re disposable, Americans go through Americans throw out more than 400 million oil filters every year, each still containing between 4 and 8 ounces of dirty oil that can leech into the soil or bleed into our water supply. “Oil filters are just biological nightmares,” says Dan Harden, president and principal designer of Whipsaw, a Silicon Valley-based industrial design and engineering firm.

The Hubb Lifetime Oil Filter is something different. Designed and engineered for mass production by Whipsaw based upon technology created by Hubb, the Lifetime Oil Filter is a stainless steel oil filter that you never have to throw out. It doubles the amount of time you can go between oil changes by maximizing both filter size and filtration efficiency, and it improves any car’s fuel efficiency by a minimum of 2%, according to Whipsaw. All with a sleek industrial design that looks like someone just broke a piece off a race car, and dropped it in your engine.