Uncle Sam’s Green Wallet: Will Federal Spending Support Environmental Technologies?

For years, environmentalists have urged the federal government to become the jolly green giant among green consumers. After all, the U.S. runs up a $480 billion shopping bill each year, buying eight percent of our gross national product, while the General Services Administration (GSA), the federal landlord and supply store, would rank in the top 50 of the Fortune 500 if it were a private company. Late Christmas, Ralph Nader gave the Clinton administration his wish-list disguised as a present, a recycling bin loaded with 40 items it should buy to build a greener economy. He included brown unbleached paper napkins, a low flow showerhead, an energy efficient “exit” sign good for 10 years and copier paper made with kenaf, a plant fiber substitute for trees. “Not only is the government the largest single consumer in this country, its buying power could leverage new technologies, creat jobs, protect the environment, save taxpayer money and stimulate emerging technologies for a broader civilian marketplace,” he said.