Cisco Blogs

Think Green Before You Buy

September 8, 2010 - 6 Comments

Purchasing equipment from companies with responsible environmental practices benefits your business

When it comes to acting “green,” we don’t always think about it early in the decision-making process; buying a filtered water pitcher instead of cases of bottled water, for example. If we did, there wouldn’t have been approximately 135 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) discarded in 2008, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling, and Disposal in the United States: Facts and Figures for 2008 report.

How often do you think about buying green at the beginning of your purchase process?

There are many reasons to consider the environmental attributes of the electronics you purchase for your small business;from the chemicals used in manufacturing the equipment to the container in which it’s packaged. Purchasing green products is good not only for the environment, but also beneficial to your employees’ health and well-being.

If you want to integrate ecological criteria into your company’s electronics purchase decisions, here are some things to consider:

Choose products made with fewer toxic materials: Computer equipment is made using a variety of chemicals, such as lead, mercury, cadmium, and brominated flame retardants (BFRs). Several vendors are finding ways to reduce the toxicity of their products. For example, companies such as Apple, Sony, and Seagate have significantly reduced or completely eliminated bromine and chlorine, finding safer ways to flame-proof their products,ensuring fire safety while decreasing users’ exposure to toxic chemicals over the life of the product.

Buy from vendors with responsible end-of-life product management: Look for companies that close the loop on their supply chain by recovering and reusing or recycling returned computer equipment. This includes recovering discontinued products from manufacturing and distribution partners, trade-in programs that let customers exchange used equipment for new, and take-back programs for returning older products or broken equipment. For example, Cisco reclaims, reuses, or recycles more than 99 percent of its returned equipment.

Pick products with more sustainable packaging: Containers and packaging comprised the largest portion of municipal solid waste generated in 2008, at 31 percent or approximately 77 million tons, according to the EPA. To help lessen the impact on the environment and landfills, some companies, like Cisco once again, have begun using less raw material or more sustainable content in their packaging. When researching product purchases, consider the vendor’s packaging practices and try to choose products that use less packaging, reusable packaging, or packaging made from recycled materials.

With all the other considerations involved in purchasing new equipment, searching for companies that also incorporate environmentally sound practices into their products and packaging adds to an already time-consuming process. The Electronic Product Environmental Assessment (EPEAT) Tool , which is managed and operated by the Green Electronics Council, can help you evaluate computer products based on preferred environmental attributes.

Even the smallest act can make a big environmental difference. See how with One Million Acts of Green.

Do you consider the environmental impact of the technology products you purchase? How important is it to you to buy green equipment?

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  1. Fantastic article Marie. It is still often the case that businesses will choose profit over reducing their carbon footprint but things are changing.

  2. Hi there

    Thanks for sharing, I have digged this post

  3. Thank you! I hope this helps you make greener purchases in the future!

  4. I pretty much never comment on stories . . . but this one is exceptional. Thanks for posting this. It really makes sense the way you put it. Wish someone else had told me sooner.

  5. We couldn’t agree more! Thanks for stopping in!

  6. I have to confess I don’t think green when buying for my business. In general through I think buying green should be natural and invisible. By that I mean that what is best for the environment and best for the business and consumer are all intertwined. Buying green shouldn’t mean having to make a separate choice, it should be a natural part of the smartest choice,