How to Buy Green

How to Buy Green

Over the past several years, the U.S. Postal Service® has been continuously improving its national green pur­chasing program. Efforts have been focused on the prod­ucts and services we buy, together with the products and services we provide to our customers. Today and every­day, employees can help USPS become more sustainable by buying green products and services at work and at home. So how can you “buy green”?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines “green purchasing” (more properly known as environmen­tally preferable purchasing), as the purchase of “products or services that have a lesser or reduced effect on the envi­ronment and human health when compared with compet­ing products or services that serve the same purpose.” The Environmental Protection Agency has developed five guid­ing principles (, which provide a framework for making green contracts. They are as follows:

n Environment + Price + Performance = Environmen­tally Preferable Purchasing (EPP)

n Always ensure environmental considerations are part of the normal purchasing process.

n Pollution Prevention

n Emphasize pollution prevention (i.e., source reduction) as part of the purchasing process.

n Life Cycle Perspective/Multiple Attributes

n Examine multiple environmental attributes throughout the product/service’s life cycle.

n Comparison of Environmental Impacts

n Compare environmental impacts when selecting products and services.

n Environmental Performance Information

n Collect accurate and meaningful environmental information about environmental performance of products and services.

As an internal customer, you should order and specify products that align with the guiding principles noted above. Through your purchasing decision you not only can get the product you want, you can also make the Postal Service a more sustainable organization.

When ordering supplies in eBuy2 (, look for products that:

1. Are Free of the 13 Targeted Chemicals. You can in­crease your knowledge of these chemicals by re­viewing Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) prior to purchase. For a list of these targeted chemicals, see page 14. Here are some key tips:

n Remember most on-catalog Postal Service custo­dial products have already been reviewed to avoid the use of the 13 targeted chemicals.

n Some custodial products do contain these chem­icals. Before you purchase any product, you are responsible for reviewing its MSDS for these chemicals.

n If the product you need is critical for your custodial work, you are responsible for making sure there are no “green cleaning” product alternatives. Document your decision to use one of the 13 targeted chemi­cals based on the lack of feasible alternatives.

2. Contain High Levels of Post Consumer Content Re­cycled Materials. Post consumer recycled materials are obtained from discarded consumer products. Here are some key tips:

n If you buy copy paper, choose 30 percent post- consumer recycled content paper.

n Buying paper with only pre-consumer recycled content doesn’t support the recycling market.

n Recycled content copy papers generally meet the same performance standards as virgin copy paper. It is an urban myth that recycled content papers do not perform to the same standards as virgin paper.

What Can You Do?

Buy products made with recycled content materials that are free of the 13 targeted chemicals. There are numerous products meeting these standards available on-catalog in eBuy2 (