Natural & Cultural Stewardship

The Motives for a new Purchasing Policy

Fri, 05 Aug 2016 16:18:00 CDT  — by: Vincent Leray, C'13, Sustainability Post-Baccalaureate Fellow

There are a lot of frightening statistics floating about the internet regarding consumption and waste:snowflake

... the number of times our thrown-away water bottles could wrap around the earth, the number of acres deforested, the number of deaths in unsafe factory conditions.  A related and poignant adage is, "No single snowflake will bear the responsibility of an avalanche."  The University's adoption of a more sustainability-minded, progress-driven purchasing policy is, in all real effect, a snowflake in an avalanche of well-established economic and political practices. 

The great merit in our adoption of a new purchasing policy, then, is neither economic nor political.  Rather, it is the human context that we most hope to impact and change. If we, as an institution, expect great things of our community and the denizens therein, how then can we not stand as stanchions and exemplars of the progress we so happily promote.  How could we expect single individuals to bear the tide of an unfettered consumerism culture and not be behind them with feet firmly planted?  If Sewanee is to produce people with the fortitude to face global issues, it must itself have such a fortitude. 

With the adoption of a new purchasing policy, Sewanee can be a snowflake that admits its responsibility to the benefit of its neighbors.  The ripple effect of this admittance is impossible to predict or gauge yet is unequivocally good.  We can have a less negative impact on our environment and even a positive impact on communities by purchasing products that adhere to sustainable and equitable standards.  Perhaps this university can guide the people it touches to do the same. Thus, a micro-avalanche is born.

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