A few weeks ago, I joined a webinar sponsored by the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council. They are promoting their new guidance document “Guidance for Leadership in Sustainable Purchasing” which is available free for download.

When we in the wood industry think about “sustainable purchasing,” we’re usually thinking about buying wood certified by FSC or SFI or PEFC or another program. We’re thinking forest management. This isn’t focused on that, nor is it focused directly on a due care program that will help you for Lacey. This is not designed for the wood industry, rather they hope it can be applied to any and all industries—the goal is to change a corporate culture more than just a product.

I found it interesting in all the ways to look at being “green” in your buying outside what we normally consider.

Of course the training here can help you a bit with some aspects of a due diligence wood purchasing program (actually there are some good basic management tricks for developing any type of project within a company), but definitely they are thinking on a grander scale. They want you to look at everything you are doing, and I found it interesting in all the ways to look at being “green” in your buying outside what we normally consider.

The key pair of questions to ask are:

   What are we buying?

       and

   From whom are we buying?

These questions can be applied to your flooring, of course, but they are encouraging you to look at the entirety of your business. Where are you getting your power? Your office supplies? Your food? Think of all the bills you pay and think where you can improve.

While much of this is most easily applied to large corporations (or organizations like schools, government agencies, hospitals, etc.), the questions can serve as a good review for a company of any size. Are your appliances all energy efficient? Are you using healthy cleaning products in the office? Are you printing less and working electronically as much as possible? These are just a few of the simple questions you can ask any sized organization.

The document can be a bit intimidating, although clearly a tremendous amount of work has gone into trying to make it as useful and clear as possible—it’s just that there is a lot of data and many ideas to get across. But I recommend at least skimming through it. There are reference to many different programs and certifications you can look for (outside our familiar wood ones.) And things may jump out at you like the fact that a company “fleet dominated by SUVs may find that mid-size sedans suffice with a significant reduction in fuel costs … Lighter vehicles can improve fuel economy by up to 2% for every 100 pounds of weight reduced.” That’s good for the company budget as well as the world.

Like everything, it’s always about how informed choices are usually better choices.

Elizabeth Baldwin has over 20 years of international wood sourcing experience. Very widely traveled, her résumé's "Special Skills" section includes "the ability to eat anything from raw horse to deep-fried scorpion." She serves as Metropolitan Hardwood Flooring's (metrofloors.com) ECO (Environmental Compliance Officer) and deals daily with the "green alphabet soup" of today's industry: FSC, CARB, LEED, and much more. She blogs for Hardwood Floors on all things green (and, as she says, " 'grey' and 'blue' and almost every color except 'black and white.' Nothing in this world is black and white, particularly not 'green issues.'")