To join the Green Purchasing Working Group (GPWeG) contact Kate Cunningham for meeting information. Students and staff alike are greatly encouraged to join. Though this project has been completed, there is always more work to be done.
The Sustainability Office (via the Provost’s Sustainability Internship Program) and Procurement and Business Contracts have developed a training program aimed at identifying greenwashing methods and greener purchasing strategies. Greenwashing is a marketing technique that offers skewed or inaccurate information regarding a product’s sustainability of environmental aspects. Sustainable purchasing practices can be improved by increasing greenwashing awareness, which can also lead to an increased number of environmentally preferred products at UCSC. Christian Frederick was the Provost’s Sustainability Intern in 2011/12 who helped create the Greenwashing Training Tool so that all consumers on the UCSC campus can be better educated on the greenwashing tactics used by the suppliers and product distributers. With the help of the Green Purchasing Working Group and Kate Cunningham, Christian’s internship mentor, the tool was successfully put online at the start of 2013.
Christian Frederick created a Greenwashing Training Tool PowerPoint, which was then converted into an online training tool within the UC Learning Center webpage. In order to create the Greenwashing PowerPoint, Christian divided the project into four sub-projects: data collection, supplier interviews, product research, and training presentation. First, data was collected on purchasing figures for UCSC during fiscal years 2010 and 2011. This information was organized into categories by the most items purchased yearly. The top ten suppliers were OfficeMax, Palace Art Supply, Fisher Scientific, Invitrogen Corp., PBI, VWR, Grainger, Apple Inc., Dell, and Sigma Aldrich. These "Top Ten" suppliers deal with products in a wide array of categories from office supplies to scientific equipment. Once the Top Ten was established, more data was compiled showing all the products purchased by UCSC from the Top Ten during the respective fiscal years.
With the product data for the Top Ten, Christian began conducting product specific research on the most purchased product categories for each supplier. The research focused on the environmental attributes of said products, such as recycled content, recyclability, environmental toxicity, reusability, etc. Product alternatives offered by the Top Ten as well as from other suppliers were also documented. Among other things, the research showed that office supplies are currently the products capable of having the biggest impact on greening UCSC's purchasing.
During the data collection and product research, Christian also initiated correspondence with the Top Ten in order to discuss their sustainable business practices. This was done in order to get an idea of the sustainable qualities of these companies outside of their products. For example, communication has continued with Invitrogen (part of Life Technologies) in order to initiate a program to reuse and reduce certain packaging components used by the company. Specific sustainability initiatives were found within most of these companies and beneficial contacts were made.
As the final part of Christian’s project, a training presentation was drafted. Christian Frederick delivered the training presentation to the Purchasing Team in order to be used with on-campus clients in the future. Current greenwashing and green purchasing trainings were researched in order to create an effective presentation. This PowerPoint was then taken and converted into a Learning Management Training tool by the LMS department at UCSC. The training focuses on the common methods of greenwashing, examples of greenwashed products, and strategies to use in order to receive the clearest picture possible of a product’s "greenness". Overall, the project identified office supplies as the most powerful product category to affect change. And most importantly, the percentage of recycled content represents a products' sustainability as well as the higher PRE-consumer content, the better.
Metrics for Success:
Training completed and available through University online trainings.