Green Purchasing - Lifecycle
The true energy cost of a product includes all the energy required to manufacture, transport, maintain, use and dispose of it, from cradle to grave.
According to the US Department of Energy, the production of petroleum products is the most intensive energy-use industry in the United States. Products made from oil (including plastics) or those which require petroleum for their operation have a high energy cost; look for alternatives.
The location of a manufacturer can impact a product's transportation energy costs. Look for products which are produced locally, sold in concentrate form and are lightweight. The Energy Star program rates the efficiency of thousands of products, from appliances to lighting. This independent, scientific assessment is an excellent tool for determining the cost of product use.
Energy costs related to disposal include the operating costs and environmental impact of landfills and incinerators, transportation costs involving collection of recyclable materials and the impact of reprocessing. For ideas about efficient recycling, see our "recyclability" page.
 Valero, A., & Valero, A. (2012). From Cradle to Grave. Journal of Industrial Ecology, 17(1), 43-52.
 Worrell, E. (2000). Energy Use and Energy Intensity of the U.S. Chemical Industry (Rep. No. LBNL-44314). Berkeley, CA: Ernest Orlando Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Environmental Technologies Division, 1-27.
 Gleick, P. H., & Cooley, H. S. (2009). Energy implications of bottled water. Environmental Research Letters, 4(1), 014009.
 Rodriguez, J., et al. (2017). Chapter 7 - Transportation, Economy, and Society. In The Geology of Transport Systems. London, U.K.: Routledge, 440