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small, brightly colored post-it notepads. credit: Taking Notes by venspired, on Flickr

"Taking Notes" (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by venspired

We created a green office supplies favorites list to make it easier for our employees to find environmentally preferable products.

Office Supplies

Office Supplies remain a critical part of our business operations, even as we continue to look for innovative ways to automate our business services to the community. In this contract, we ask the vendor to partner with us to find ways to reduce the environmental impact of the office supplies we purchase, as well as the emissions from deliveries to get them to us. We have found that it requires clear expectations, flexibility on solutions and ongoing dialogue to meet our goals.

How We Did It

In the bid, we included requirements that the vendor have the capability within their online catalog to:

  • Block unacceptable items from being purchased,
  • Clearly identify and make it easy for employees to find ‘green’ items, as defined by the County,
  • Identify opportunities to reduce the environmental impact of their services, including packaging, delivery and business operations.

In addition, we include requirements to provide training and product samples to encourage the purchase of more sustainable products, as well as education and support to departments on how to consolidate delivery orders to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Challenges:

Alameda County sets high standards for what can be marketed as 'green' to our employees in order to avoid greenwashing, or misleading marketing. We found early on in our contract implementation that we could not depend on the vendor’s online catalog product search or filter functions to match these high standards, due to complexities in the industry. So we set about finding an alternate solution to provide employees a trusted source for finding green products. We found it in creating a green favorites list, accessible to all employees through the County portal, of over 300 products verified to meet our green standards.

Benefits:

Pointing employees directly to green products reduces time spent sifting through thousands of products, assures them that they are making the right choice for their health, and helps keep our planet healthy.

Documents

* Portable Document Format (PDF) file requires the free Adobe Reader.

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