Two-state effort aims to reduce public exposure to toxic chemicals

Government offices and schools across the Northwest will be healthier places to work and visit thanks to a new “green” janitorial supplies contract developed by Oregon’s Department of Administrative Services in partnership with Washington’s Department of Enterprise Services.

The contract — developed with support from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Washington Department of Ecology and Responsible Purchasing Network — will supply public agencies with people — and planet-friendly janitorial supplies that reduce the use of toxic chemicals without increasing costs.

Reducing toxic threats is a top priority for both states and they are leveraging purchasing power to find solutions that protect both the economy and the environment. Oregon and Washington agencies spend more than $20 million on janitorial supplies annually. The market impacts of this contract go beyond state purchasing as local governments and public schools may also take advantage of the price agreements.

“Government purchasing is a big economic driver. By encouraging the design and use of more responsible products, we can boost our economy while promoting better public health,” said Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber. “When states buy green goods and services that are comparable in quality, availability and cost to traditional ones, it’s a triple win.”

Oregon Executive Order No. 12-05, signed in April 2012 by Kitzhaber, calls on state agencies to support the advancement of green chemistry in Oregon through multiple strategies, including new state purchasing policies focused on less toxic products.

In Washington, Executive Order 04-01 directs all state agencies to purchase equipment, supplies and other products that do not contain persistent, toxic chemicals unless there is no feasible alternative.

“Environmentally-preferred doesn’t mean green at any cost,” said Washington Gov. Jay Inslee. “We want goods and services that get the job done, at a fair price, with less harm to people and the environment - that’s best value for state taxpayers.”

The Department of Administrative Services negotiated prices with Coastwide Laboratories, Waxie Sanitary Supply, Interline Brands and West Coast Paper to provide government customers in both states with an extensive catalog of environmentally preferable products. The new price agreements begin Aug. 1, 2013 and may be extended in two-year increments until 2018.

The contract offers a comprehensive approach to green cleaning that includes low environmental impact cleaning products, tools, equipment, consultation and training.

Both states are pursuing less toxic products without compromising effectiveness or increasing costs. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency defines environmentally preferable purchasing as products or services that have a lesser or reduced effect on human health and the environment when compared with competing products or services that serve the same purpose. Best value is the right balance of price, quality, performance and environmental protection achieved through competitive procurement methods over the life of the purchased good or service.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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