Each of us can effect change through our personal purchasing power. Whether we buy local food or clean energy, every green purchase we make takes the marketplace a step closer to more affordable sustainable products for everyone.
Omega Institute is committed to green purchasing. All electricity Omega purchases is clean energy from wind farms based in central New York State. We buy more than 10,000 environmentally-friendly pens to give away during workshops each year and all of our print materials, including over 500,000 catalogs, are printed on Forest Stewardship Council certified paper. In our dining hall, we serve more than 200,000 meals per year. Buying food locally for those meals supports many farms in the region.
A key factor in Omega's green purchasing plan is a sustainability questionnaire that we send to all of our suppliers. We make purchases according to their responses. And, sometimes our requests even generate new products! When we built the Omega Center for Sustainable Living, we searched extensively for a supplier that made an alternative to several types of PVC valves. We couldn't find one. Yet, less than a year after opening the OCSL, Environmental Building News reported that because of Omega's efforts, those valves are now offered PVC-free from two different companies. By initiating demand for sustainable products, we helped create change in the marketplace and more sustainable choices for everyone.
It's true that a lot of sustainable products are currently more expensive than their counterparts. For example, a gallon of regular paint might be $20, a gallon of low VOC paint $40, and a gallon of no VOC paint $60. Which do you choose? The only sustainable choice is the $60 gallon of no VOC paint. The more people choose no VOC paint today, the sooner it will become widely available and the faster the $60 price tag can drop toward $20. You can vote for sustainability with every dollar you spend. Together, our purchasing power can create positive change.