Travis County became the second county in the state to adopt a purchasing policy that prioritizes pollution prevention and environmental friendliness.

The first was Cameron County in south Texas, which includes the city of Brownsville.

Travis County commissioners unanimously approved the new policy at a meeting Oct. 29.

“Where we spend our money defines what our priorities are,” Sustainability Project Manager Tom Gleason said. “We can say what our goals are, what our vision is, but really, when we look at the books, that really defines what is important to us as a county.”

In January, the Commissioners Court directed staff to create a task force composed of county staff and chaired by Commissioners Brigid Shea and Jeff Travillion to draft a purchasing policy to direct county employees to choose "environmentally preferable" products.

The policy affects county employees who are responsible for purchasing and procuring a product or service for county use. It also stipulates training and education opportunities will be provided and directs employees to consider a product's life cycle when considering potential purchases.

There is an exemption in the policy that makes clear employees are not expected to purchase subpar products or services.

Many county departments are already purchasing environmentally preferable items, according to a brief prepared by county staff.

“This is terrific,” Shea said of the new policy. “It will allow us to literally use our purchasing dollars to improve the environment.”