GREEN SCHOOLS BUYING GUIDEby the Green Schools Initiative
The Green Schools Initiative developed this Green Schools Buying Guide to help schools make purchasing decisions that will protect children’s health and the environment. Currently, the majority of US schools expose students to pesticides, cleaners, and building materials that can contain hazardous chemicals that pose serious risks to the health of teachers, staff and students. Half of schools in the US have poor indoor air quality, according to the US EPA. Schools use tons and tons of paper and loads of energy, often with considerable waste of resources.
The Green Schools Buying Guide can help school administrators, teachers, parents, students, and school board members make their schools healthier and reduce their overall environmental impact. The Guide pulls together information from a variety of sources to serve as a starting point for helping people navigate information about environmentally preferable products, brands, and sources.
This Guide includes information on, and alternatives to, toxic products such as cleaners, art supplies and toys, and pesticides; resource-intensive products like paper, energy and water; unhealthy outdoor products like synthetic turf and arsenic-treated wooden play structures; and school lunch products like disposable tableware or unhealthy food. For each product category, we provide a 'primer' on the product: why buy green, how you can tell if a product is green (criteria or standards for purchasing decisions), whether you can afford to buy green, green product information, and how you can buy green, as well as other resources and environmentally friendly options. We also include sample buying policies to help schools make decisions about purchases and a list of procurement contract opportunities to facilitate green buying at big discounts for schools.
The links below provide information about green products that will help you build towards our Four Pillars of a Green School. Green purchasing can help you with three of the pillars; the fourth pillar is Curriculum and you can learn more here.
Note on the information provided: our primary focus is schools in
California, so we have focused on examples and information relevant to
this state. Caveats: The product directories are not exhaustive or proscriptive but
rather meant to provide a starting point for green purchasing by
suggesting criteria for decision-making and suggestions of greener,
healthier products. Wherever possible, links to original information
sources are provided. More qualifiers: This is a fast-changing field;
product formulations, information, specifications and certification are
changing all the time. We will do our best to update.
We invite anyone at any level who is interested in a healthy environment within and outside of their schools to make use of this Guide. It is designed for everyone—from those wishing to overhaul school policy to those who need to purchase a few reams of paper. We hope you find this Guide helpful and we welcome your questions, comments and suggestions for additions (email infoATgreenschoolsDOTnet).
Green Schools Buying Guide
Pillar II. Use Resources Sustainably
Pillar III. Green Schoolyards & Healthy Food
Apply for listing in the Guide »
Schools spend billions of dollars on facilities, energy and water, office and school supplies, cleaners and pesticides, food and play equipment. Why not leverage these funds to benefit our health and the environment? We can! Through Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) or Green Purchasing.
In California, the law requires state government to practice EPP and encourages local governments and schools to do so.
Other Ways to Green Your School
Use our website to find more ideas to green your school. Follow the 7 Steps to a Green School, get inspired by reading school profiles, and check our curricula resources. Start with our Take Action ideas.
Green Buying Tools
"Environmentally Preferable Purchasing" or "Green Purchasing" means integrating environmental and health factors into all procurement policies and decisions. Green purchasing can also save money, protect students and staff, and reduce liability—something schools everywhere should care about.
The following tools will help you get started: