Each department of every governmental agency has an expenditure budget dedicated to office supplies/items/furniture. The EPA’s Region 9 spends around $50,000 per year on office items. That’s approximately $500,000 for just the EPA on office supplies. During our summer internship, we sighted one way that federal dollars could be used more efficiently, support American companies, and spur the green economy: by leveraging our purchasing power to negotiate favorable transactions with vendors who use sustainable practices.
Currently, we purchase office supplies from companies like George W. Allen, Access Products, and Metro Office Products. We can procure similar, if not the same, items from sustainable companies at a lower cost. For instance, Sharpie highlighters from Office Depot cost $6.99 for a pack of 5. Pentel highlighters from Green Office Supplies cost $5.32 for a pack of 4. Not only is the latter cheaper, it’s also more environmentally friendly (refillable, biodegradable ink, and nontoxic) and supports an American company.
Since each department already has a budget for office supplies/furniture, supporting sustainable, American vendors will require no additional costs but actually save valuable federal dollars and make our budget more efficient. Furthermore, the Federal Government has a strong incentive in strengthening the green market to spur innovation and create domestic jobs.