Oregon and Washington shopping together is good for all taxpayers

Washington and Oregon have teamed up to increase their buying power of environmentally friendly cleaning products used by the states’ janitorial staffs.

It’s a good example of two green-minded states combining forces to reduce human and environmental exposure to toxic chemicals while maximizing buying power in the janitorial supplies marketplace.

It also is an acknowledgment that green cleaning supplies in recent years have advanced in quality and cost competitiveness when compared with traditional, more toxic cleaning chemicals.

“‘Environmentally preferred’ doesn’t mean green at any cost,” Gov. Jay Inslee said in announcing the two-state contract. “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.”

State agencies in Washington and Oregon spend some $20 million a year on janitorial supplies. The new purchasing agreement, which went into effect in August, and may be extended for two-year periods through 2018, also is available to local governments and public schools.

Washington has had an executive order in place since 2001 — issued by then-Gov. Gary Locke — that directs state agencies to purchase supplies, equipment and other products that don’t contain persistent toxic chemicals, unless there is no feasible alternative. Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber issued a similar executive order last year.