The rise of the non-toxic buyer: 6 case studies on safer chemistry

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

Public and private sector green purchasing programs first began in the 1990s, and they’ve been growing in number and scope ever since.

Environmentally preferable purchasing (EPP) programs initially focused on recycled content and energy efficiency. Now, they are increasingly taking into account the issue of toxicity, nudging buyers toward the purchase of products with less toxic chemistries.

As a result, supply chains are shifting towards safer, more sustainable products, and transparency is increasing. Greater numbers and categories of products are available that are less harmful to people and the planet.

Institutional purchasers — those making EPP policies and those advocating for such policies — have played, and must continue to play, a key role in moving the market towards products that are less toxic throughout their life cycles.

Could Carbon-Labeling Products Help the Environment?

Read the full story in Pacific Standard.

Wouldn’t it be great to have carbon footprint labels right on the products we buy? That way, we could use our dollars to tell big corporations that we actually care about climate change. Unfortunately, according to a new experiment, adding so-called “carbon reduction labels” may not have any impact on what we buy—unless the labels are designed just right.



Webinar recording available: Safer Products for Facilities in Your Community

The recording of the September 9 webinar: Safer Products for Facilities in Your Community is now available for viewing on

Learn about unsafe product chemicals, the Safer Choice program, and how to choose safer products for yourself and your community.

For an environmentally friendly supply chain, what we buy matters

Read the full story in Modern Healthcare.

The challenge for individual hospitals and health systems is that the environmental attributes of products are often not apparent within some purchasing processes. However, market-wide progress is being made through several initiatives that bring together hospital sustainability and purchasing managers, GPOs, and medical product and service providers.

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
Register at

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.