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by 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 I. Strive to Be Toxics Free
Pillar II. Use Resources Sustainably
Pillar III. Green Schoolyards & Healthy Food
Apply for listing in the Guide »
Green Building Green Cleaners Green Food Services Green Papers Green Schoolyards Green Supplies
­What is Green Purchasing?

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.

> Learn more about Green Purchasing and EPP

> About the Green Schools Buying Guide

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:

Disclaimer: Listing in this Directory should not be construed as a recommendation or endorsement by Green Schools Initiative or any of its supporters or partners. GSI is providing this information as a public service to promote the use of greener practices and products. Listings in this Directory are based on information obtained from the product manufacturer, supplier, or service provider in question, and may not be complete. GSI reviews the information obtained from these sources to determine if its meets our health and environmental criteria, but does not independently verify the information. GSI provides no warranty or guarantee of product performance, safety, price, or availability.