Oregon Department of Human Services Director's Message
November 7, 2008 DHS Director's messages on the web
To: All DHS employees
From: Bruce Goldberg, M.D., director
Going green at DHS

"Health is not valued 'til sickness comes."
~Dr. Thomas Fuller (1732)

One of our most important activities, both as an organization and as individuals, is leadership. Effective leadership, modeled by all of us, can help us fulfill our mission. That's why today I'm proud to announce another way we are leading and contributing to the health of our state. DHS is going green. We will be reducing our collective exposure to dangerous chemicals and environmental pollutants.

As we did when we went tobacco-free, I believe it's very important within DHS that we model those behaviors that can contribute to helping us meet our mission of assisting people to become independent, healthy and safe.

Within the next few weeks we will be providing employees with more details about this new policy and how to purchase green cleaning products, but here's a sneak peak at what's already being done and what's planned.

Our janitorial contracts already require use of environmentally friendly cleaning products and compounds in all buildings we lease from DAS and in some buildings where we lease space from other owners. And we already require non-toxic paint in DAS-owned buildings.

As we renew and renegotiate leases at our other sites, we will add the requirement that all cleaning supplies used in those facilities also be green. DHS institutions and group homes already use the environmentally friendly cleaning products that are available under state price agreements and are researching more products to add. The goal is to reduce the potential exposure to harsh chemicals and other workplace pollutants among all our staff, clients and customers.

In addition, our Facilities staff and Contract and Procurement staff are developing a "green essentials list" through our contract with Office Max for employees who need to make individual purchases of cleaning supplies. Once it's ready, the list will be prominently displayed on the DHS Office Max log-in page.

Eventually every DHS work site will use only non-toxic cleaning products. I believe this new policy will make a very positive difference for everyone who works in or visits our offices, hospitals and other facilities. And this change also is good for the larger environment.

This is an important step in promoting healthy and safe workplaces, and one I am proud we are implementing at DHS. At my home we also are attempting to reduce our exposure to harsh chemicals and environmental pollutants, and we're finding that -- for the most part -- green products are just as effective and no more expensive than the chemicals they've replaced.

We all can benefit from this change. I hope other employers will join us in this effort and that you will consider doing the same at home.

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