Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Government's Role in Sustainability

It's imperative that the government be a role model of sustainability. Perhaps this is currently not the position they hold now but there is significant progress towards this.

I seek to discover discuss the various ways that government agencies are involved with sustainability; whether it be policy, practice, activism, research & development, or hindrance. I will explore actions of the EPA, Department of Defense, the White House, and the United Nations.

The government is the largest buying power in the nation and by changing their purchasing habits towards sustainability they will sway businesses to move that way as well. Perhaps through discovering what is actually done by the government, with regards to sustainability, we can get involved to push them towards further action.

So I start the conversation: what should the government's role in sustainability be?


  1. One of my personal passions is government subsidies. How can we turn the tide against all of the black subsidies when we have entire constituencies rallying for them? Look at agriculture. The government is funding industrial agriculture when it could be equalizing the playing field by creating organic incentives.

  2. I love this whole thing, Miriam. The name, the idea, the huge possibility it represents. One more direction for you: PX purchasing. I remember looking at the staggering documents required to sell to the PX stores at one point and yet I do not remember any requirements for sustainability. Simply including a basic set of requirements would incentivize many suppliers to shift their practices, and would set an important tone to potential suppliers as well.

  3. Considering the government's size and power, they should be doing all of the above! R&D so they can have all the information to implement policies that they will then put into practice (walk the talk, if you will.)

    I may be kind of a skeptic, but the government kind of reminds me of WalMart. They are so huge and have so much power! Imagine what they could accomplish! And they sometimes try to do the right thing, but most of the time you're pretty sure they only have their own best interests in mind, not the public's.

  4. Thank you for your comments!

    Julie: I 100% agree with you and think that government subsidies is a huge leverage point for change. It's something I plan on researching and hope to find out how to use that leverage point.

    Bonnie: I agree with you as well. The PX is owned by AAFES, a for-profit company. They also own a lot of the other stores on military installations such as the gas stations, restaurants, movie theatre, etc. They have recently put out a sustainability report (I plan to go into greater detail in a future blog post).

    Karen: While the "big" government has their own best interests in mind, there are lots of people working at the grassroots level to initiate change. They're getting into the board rooms of the military and speaking to the decision makers and making the change happen from within. I never knew how many people within the military are actually moving the military towards sustainability. It gives me hope!