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E3. Materials and Supplies

Intent: Purchase materials and supplies that have minimal environmental impact in terms of embodied energy, packaging, and resource extraction. The selection of venders and suppliers is addressed separately under the Economic Responsibility pillar. Whether the consumer is functioning as a consumer or a supplier, policies and programs should encourage the most sustainable action.

The most sustainable course of action is to stop buying (or for manufacturers, producing) unnecessary materials, supplies and packaging. If this is not possible, used materials or supplies should be purchased. After that consumers should seek durable products that last a long time and are capable of being repaired, reused or upcycled when the consumer or manufacturers is finished with the product (manufacturers should produce such products). If a new product must be purchased, then the business should consider the environmental, social and economic issues related to its manufacture and choose products with the lowest impact.   These actions are included in the first criterion, E3.1. The second criterion addresses what to do with waste, if its creation cannot be avoided. The best solution is to reuse the product, then to upcycle, and finally to recycle. Upcycle is an option between reusing and recycling. It means that the product is repurposed. A table that is about to be discarded, for instance could be upcycled to become a shelve.