This partnership between Sustainable Tompkins and Tompkins County Solid Waste Division provided support and leadership for a coalition of organizations and individuals interested in researching environmentally preferable purchasing options for institutional, commercial, and residential settings, and educating buyers about the benefits of buying “green.”  We recruited purchasing department representatives of Cornell, Ithaca College, Tompkins County, BOCES, and the City of Ithaca to explore the potential for bulk purchases of selected green products to reduce costs, and to share information on available products.  These discussions revealed that the first step we should take should be to survey local attitudes about green purchasing, identify what green products were available locally, and to share that information more widely.

Volunteers with Leadership Tompkins were assisted in the development and application of a survey of small businesses on current energy consumption, recycling, and purchasing practices.  The survey also explored the attitudes and perceived barriers toward making changes in energy and purchasing patterns.  The team surveyed 53 local businesses and organizations in the spring of 2005.  Over 80% of respondents indicated interest in buying products made from recycled materials, with 100% of firms over 50 employees indicating interest.  About 20% thought that recycled products are inferior.  About 65% thought that buying environmentally friendly products would increase their costs.  This was especially true for mid-sized companies of 10-100 employees.

The institutional representatives of this collaborative have continued to work together on bulk purchases of green products and make them available to smaller enterprises.