Market prices fail to provide accurate information about the ecological and social impacts of products and services. This makes it difficult to generate purchasing decisions consistent with reliable prosperity.
The National Green Pages provides comprehensive U.S. listings of socially and environmentally responsible products.
Individuals and businesses exert enormous leverage through their purchasing choices. When these choices are based on the full ecological and social costs and benefits over the entire lifecycle of the product or service, they will directly support an emerging Reliable Prosperity. As True Cost Pricing is gradually implemented, market prices increasingly reflect these underlying costs and benefits. However, in the early stages of such a tax shift, it is critical to supplement market prices with additional information about ecological and social impacts.
In some cases, standard data (e.g. typical rates of fuel consumption for various modes of transport) can be used to calculate impacts within a few percent. However, in most cases, accurate information about these impacts is currently difficult to obtain, creating a critical market niche for Product Labeling programs offering third-party certification and documentation of products and services. Such product labeling programs allow certain dimensions of a product's lifecycle (e.g. labor practices, forest management, or use of recycled materials) to be reliably audited.
Often, additional information will need to be gathered from manufacturers or vendors throughout the supply chain, which provides another opportunity to exert leverage. When products fail to meet specified ecological or social criteria, customers can work with their suppliers to improve product standards.
Increasingly, green procurement takes the form of service contracts with vendors, requiring the vendors to take back packaging and unused materials and products, and specifying environmentally responsible management practices. For instance, landscaping contractors may be required to use Integrated Pest Management as an alternative to pesticide application.
Green procurement policies seek to provide the same level of quality while continuously decreasing destructive environmental and social impacts. They do this by increasing purchases of products and services compatible with reliable prosperity.