Office of Strategic Environmental Management
Note: EPA no longer updates this information, but it may be useful as a reference or resource.
A new era of environmental opportunity is upon us. For more than three decades, our country has made steady environmental progress. We have put laws in place to protect our people and natural resources from many types of risks. We have developed environmental standards and held public and private institutions accountable for meeting them. Along the way, we have also learned a great deal about how to achieve our goals. We no longer focus solely on controlling pollution.
Today, EPA and other organizations in the United States and around the world are thinking more holistically about how to achieve sustainability—widely defined as the ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations meet their own needs. Along with this evolution in thinking has come a realization that improving environmental quality can lead to a higher quality of life and to new products and markets that boost economic competitiveness. For many, sustainability is now the end goal, one that can assure a more secure future and that is naturally pursued through environmental stewardship.
As the leading environmental agency in the United States, EPA has an important role to play in promoting environmental stewardship—within businesses, communities, non-governmental organizations, and with our partners throughout government. In addition, EPA sees significant opportunity to promote environmental stewardship to individuals. More than 300 million Americans make countless choices every day, and yet the environmental impact of many of those decisions is often overlooked. The potential to reap benefits from individual action is great. For example, if every U.S. household replaced one incandescent light bulb with one that has earned the ENERGY STAR label, the country would save $600 million in energy bills, conserve enough energy to light 7 million homes, and prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 1 million cars. The nation could expect similarly impressive gains through individual commitment to water conservation, recycling, and other environmentally-beneficial practices. EPA can also promote environmental stewardship through our own operations. From purchasing green power to incorporating green features into new buildings, EPA is finding ways to lead by example.
Recognizing the potential of environmental stewardship to help solve some of today’s most challenging environmental problems, in 2005, EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson called for a strategy to guide EPA’s efforts. Everyday Choices: Opportunities for Environmental Stewardship provides a snapshot of EPA’s stewardship activities at that point in time and a vision for environmental stewardship going forward —“ where all parts of society actively take responsibility to improve environmental quality and achieve sustainable results.”