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Berea College, KY Green and Socially Responsible Purchasing
Worker’s Rights Consortium (WRC) The Worker’s Rights Consortium is a non-profit organization created by college and university administrations, students and labor rights experts. The WRC’s purpose is to assist in the enforcement of manufacturing Codes of Conduct adopted by colleges and universities; these Codes are designed to ensure that factories/corporations producing clothing and other goods bearing colleges and university names/logos respect the basic rights of workers. There are more than 90 colleges and universities affiliated with the WRC.
Berea College is one of the most recent affiliates with the Worker’s Rights Consortium, and a college committee has been working to make Berea College an anti-sweat-shop campus through reform of its purchasing practices and further work with the administration and various apparel-purchasing departments on campus. For more information on this campaign check out these two websites or contact Berea College’s USAS affiliate- Helping Earth And Learning (HEAL) at 859-985-3613.
Green Purchasing Programs for Campus Departments Berea College has created a green purchasing working committee exploring Berea Colleges purchasing policies in regards to departmental office and cleaning supplies. Green purchasing is making an educated and conscious decision to buy products with considerations for environmental, social, and economic impacts.
Making a good green purchasing decision requires one to understand a few basic concepts. A department or organization must consider that products and services entail a certain environmental load. From the processing of raw materials to disposal, products effect the environment throughout their life cycles. The departments or organizations should also consider whether it needs a certain product or service. Simply cutting out excess products can reduce large environmental impacts. Buyers should also realize that it takes the concerted efforts of the people within departments and organizations as well as the concerted efforts of entire organizations working together to reduce environmental loads.
How do I start the process?
1. Educate your department or organization. Before any action can be taken effectively, people must understand the importance of a green office on a global level.
2. Empower workers. Let the workers do the research and find solutions to green the office.
3. Evaluate the current practices in the office. Do a general audit of the office to determine what needs to be done to make the office greener.
- a. After a general audit, choose one or two workers to run a more specific audit to make the office greener. The workers should consider and use each of their co-workers input to green the office.
- b. The “green auditors” should consider the types and amounts of energy used in the office, the products bought and used, and the disposal methods, to name a few topics.
- c. The auditors should also consider the habits or practices of the office workers to determine what contributes to overall environmental friendliness of the office. For example, are the workers throwing away or recycling paper that can continue to be used? Are their things consumed in the offices that are simply excessive? Consider ways to creatively administer to these habits and practices.
4. Share responsibility of decision-making. All the workers in the office should meet to decide the best ways to make improvements and take responsibility for those improvements individually.
5. Put the plan in writing. The auditors should generate a list of practices and habits to make the office green.
6. Become the change you wish to see. The workers should structure their spaces and activities to fulfill the greening goals.
7. Lead by example. Encourage other organizations and departments to adopt green policies.
8. Monitor your policies. Make sure the green policies are being carried out to ensure continued environmental friendliness (So the activists will get off your case!!!)
10 Considerations for buying good green products
- Consider environmental impacts of products at all stages of its life cycle, from processing of product’s raw materials to it’s disposal. The impact of one area of a products life cycle may be small, but at another point in the life cycle it may be very large.
- Reduce harmful substances and chemicals. Select products that use and emit fewer substances that damage the environment and/or human health.
- Select products that do not use as much energy or resources to produce.
- Select products that provide a long service life. Consider not only durability, but “repairability” and the availability of repair parts
- Select reusable products.
- Select recyclable products
- Select products with a high percentage of recycled material
- Select products that ensure trouble free disposal and treatment.
- Select products from businesses with environmental responsibility.
- Gather and apply environmental information. Evaluate products by collecting environmental information on the products, manufacturers, and distributors.