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Summit encourages green purchases

Rebecca Moriarty | Monday, February 28, 2011

The consumer’s impact on the market for sustainable products was discussed at “Purchasing Power,” the fourth annual Green Summit presented by the Office of Sustainability, on Friday.

The summit began with a “marketplace,” in which participants were given four different options of t-shirts, notebooks and cell phones and asked to choose which of the four options they would most likely buy in a store.

Executive Vice President John Affleck-Graves then welcomed attendees.

“I challenge you to live up to the previous summits,” he said.

He said the University is making progress and mentioned the Energy Studies program in engineering, improvements in recycling programs and tray-less days as successful ideas that have come from past summits.

Affleck-Graves stressed the importance of the entire Notre Dame community in the effort to make Notre Dame greener.

“It affects all of us,” he said. “Students, staff and faculty are the only way we will make progress on this front. It’s everyone doing their bit.”

Rob Kelly, director of Procurement Services, also spoke at the summit, describing Notre Dame’s attempts to purchase green products.

“If a change is economically feasible, that’s where we want to be,” Kelly said.

He said Notre Dame is now looking to make printing and printing equipment more sustainable.

“We have to find a balance between price, quality and sustainability,” he said. “At Notre Dame we aren’t ready to transition to using brown paper.”

Jenny Mish, a professor at the Mendoza College of Business, spoke to participants about the difficulties of being a green consumer in the marketplace and how to make our purchases most effective as individual consumers.

“Sustainability recognizes that we need to live in a way that doesn’t compromise future generations,” she said.

She said individuals can make a difference by only consuming only our share of the world’s resources and no more.

“If every person in the world consumed the way Americans did, we would need three worlds,” she said.

Participants were then given the opportunity to discuss sustainability and the marketplace in small groups. Members were especially interested in how products received “green” labels and how many toxins were already present in their bodies.

All the speakers stressed that the move toward sustainability is a long process and must be accomplished over a long period of time.

“Notre Dame is dedicated to this initiative,” Affleck-Graves said.