How to Conduct a Purchasing Analysis

Prepared exclusively for Sustainable Tourism Certified members.

Before you begin your purchasing analysis:
Gather a team as needed, across your departments or divisions –

Purchasing practices may be specific to the department or role across your business. Ensure you have representation from all relevant parties to ensure an effective analysis. In small companies, one person may fill all of these roles.

Determine the purpose and outcome of your analysis –

Determine the purpose behind this exercise and how it will be implemented into your business. We strongly recommend having a measurement system in place, such as an annual performance of this task. You may decide to develop a Sustainable Purchasing Policy if you have not already.

Additional tools –

Measuring the Local Economy Excel Worksheet (GreenStep)

Local Purchasing Worksheet Excel Worksheet (GreenStep)

Green Your Business (Government of Canada), pg. 56

A purchasing analysis is an indispensable tool for developing more sustainable purchasing habits. Sourcing both more sustainable and local products has the potential to mitigate negative environmental impacts and is a best practice to foster positive social and economic impacts in your community.


When creating your purchasing analysis, it is best to account for both locality and sustainability. 

Locality –

Area (adjusted to BC geography) Description
Local (<125km) Owned and operated within your nearby cities or towns
Regional (<250km) Owned and operated within your region
Provincial Owned and operated within BC
National Operated within Canada
International Owned and operated outside of Canada

Sustainability –

Type Credible Certification/Label
Energy consuming equipment and appliances EnergyStar
Water consuming fixtures and appliances WaterSense
Variety of businesses and their products or services Carbon Neutral

Certified B Corporation

Primarily food and/or textiles Certified Organic

Fair Trade

Paper and paper products Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
Buildings/venues LEED Certified

A purchasing analysis can also cover products, services, or both. Here are some examples:

Products –

Department Products
Office Chairs, desks, computer monitors, printers, paper, pens/pencils
Housekeeping Toiletries, linens, cleaning supplies, washer/dryer, 3rd parties 
F&B/Restaurant Food, beverages, kitchen appliances, glasses, dishware
Maintenance Dishwashers, laundry appliances, fuel, other utilities

Services –

Department Services
All Lawyers








Department Driven –

Your business may have its own purchasing department, or you may have a manager or departmental-specific purchaser.  If your business is small, then you can disregard this note and continue on in a single-department manner.

Otherwise, we recommend you continue this analysis on a per department basis, and make actions to purchase more locally and sustainably within them as well. 

Gathering Data – 

You can export how much you spend annually (FY) with each of your suppliers or vendors through your bookkeeping or accounting platforms.

Using this Data –

  • Find out which suppliers account for 80% of your annual spending. Sort, or identify these suppliers by highlighting them and/or removing the rest
  • Identify their distance from your business, and whether or not they have a sustainability certification
  • Identify whether the product can be reduced in use or sourced from reused, repaired, repurposed, or recycled materials
  • Identify alternatives based on these factors. For example, sourcing your paper materials from a FSC-Certified company in Vancouver, instead of Toronto. If the item is already sourced locally and responsibly, that is great!
  • Calculate various metrics, such as % of suppliers that are local and % of suppliers that are sustainable. This will help you to keep track of your progress as you move forward, as well as pinpoint your more and less sustainable departments.
  • Input into your calendar to continue this process on an annual basis to monitor your progress.
Next Steps:

Based on the dollar amount put out to certain suppliers, as well as pinpointed departments, start moving forward to create relationships with these new local or sustainable suppliers. We understand this can be a big step and may mean not keeping the same big-bulk discounts or opportunities that other suppliers and big conglomerates can provide. We promise that as you create these relationships with new vendors and suppliers, your guests, employees, local economy, and the planet will be much happier!

You may also decide to create a Sustainable Purchasing Policy, which is an important framework for developing and implementing transparent and effective sustainable purchasing practices. For help, ask your GreenStep Sustainable Tourism advisor.