AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators

Apr/14

23

EPE TIG Week: Yvonne M. Watson on Buying Green Today to Save and Sustain Our Tomorrow

Hi everyone!  I’m Yvonne M. Watson, an Evaluator in U.S. EPA’s Evaluation Support Division and Chair of AEA’s Environmental Program Evaluation Topical Interest Group.  As we celebrate Earth Week in April and prepare for the annual American Evaluation Association  (AEA) conference in October, the theme of sustainability looms large.

As I think about an area where organizations and individuals can make a significant difference to ensure a sustainable future, consumer choice and green purchasing/procurement comes to mind.  The federal government’s role as the leading purchaser of green products is vital to ensuring a sustainable future.  Equally important is the role that households and individuals play in this equation.

Lesson Learned: According to Fischer’s 2010 report, Green Procurement: Overview and Issues for Congress, at the institutional level, federal government procurement accounts for $500 billion annually. Because of its size and purchasing power, the federal government influence on the market is broad—“affecting manufacturing (product planning and development), and purchasing (large institutions and States that mimic federal specifications) both nationally, and internationally.  Established in 1993, the purpose of EPA’s Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) Program is to: 1) achieve dramatic reductions in the environmental footprint of federal purchasing through creation of guidelines, tools, recognition programs, environmental standards and other incentives and requirements, and (b) make the overall consumer marketplace more sustainable through federal leadership.  In 2011, the EPP program initiated an evaluation to examine the changes in spending on green products across the federal government since 2001. The results indicate greater awareness and positive attitudes towards green procurement among federal purchasers surveyed.

At the individual level, consumers not only vote with their feet – they vote with their purses and wallets too, through the purchase of food, cars, electronics, clothes and a host of other services. In addition, the prominence of green and eco-labels is a prime example of the manufacturing industry’s response to greater demand from consumers who look for green products.  During Earth Week, I encourage organizations, individuals and evaluators alike to take a step back and assess our individual and collective consumer purchasing decisions and the implications for a sustainable future.  After all, the purchasing choices we make today affect the future we have tomorrow.

Rad Resources: EPA’s Greener Products website provides information for consumers, manufacturers and institutional purchasers related to green products.

The EPP Evaluation Report is available here.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Environmental Program Evaluation TIG Week with our colleagues in the Environmental Program Evaluation Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our EPE TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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