We can all make a positive impact on the environment and on society by being a bit more thoughtful about how we choose to spend our money. This means looking for products that have the least impact on the environment and the most positive impact on the people who created it.
Thoughtful purchasing at work
Take a break
As always our advice is don’t buy it unless you need it! But this is a different type of break – we mean a tea break!
Make the switch to organic, Fairtrade or locally sourced versions – and don’t forget any milk, sugar or biscuits that you get as well.
How about home baking treats to share which will also reduce packaging.
Use your influence
The NHS has huge buying power and a huge number of suppliers – we can challenge our suppliers to be more sustainable and ethical in how they produce and source the goods they provide.
Start off by asking the question – what are they are currently doing? A requirement to demonstrate sustainability credentials and meet sustainability criteria can be built into contracts. Even just asking the question can be enough to prompt change.
The procurement team are there to help
It might be possible to build sustainability criteria into the procurement process so that going forwards all suppliers need to show they are doing their best to minimise their impact on the environment.
There may already be more sustainable options available, if you would like to explore different options with less environmental impact do check with your procurement team.
The Sustainable Development Unit have some great guidance for sustainable procurement – read more here.
To contact your procurement team click on the relevant link below.
Does your Trust have a reuse network?
It might be that you don’t need to buy something new at all; check out any reuse networks for your Trust,
At SCFT staff can sign up to Warp It for free to offer goods to others or looks for items they need to collect.
At SPFT there is a reuse network can access on the intranet.
At SaSH staff can access a reuse network to offer up, buy and sell items.
Thoughtful purchasing at home
There’s plenty to do outside of the workplace as well. Check out our top ideas here – and let us know if you have any others!
Uncovering the hidden costs
We all know that buying everyday items has a financial cost. But what about the hidden costs of the things we buy? For example, buying cheap clothes which have been made in sweatshops, or a factory farmed animals that may make cheap meat but with animals living in poor conditions.
Spend a bit of time finding out about the more ethical, sustainable options available. There are now lots of initiatives and kitemarks that can help us make informed choices when we’re buying, like buying Fairtrade to support human rights or organic to contribute to environmental sustainability for example.
Sometimes the choices aren’t straightforward though. Is it better to buy organic vegetables flown in from overseas, or non-organic vegetables from a local farmer for example? There are also lots of tips and advice on the web – a great place to start is the Ethical Consumer’s website or have a flick through Mike Berners-Lee’s book ‘How Bad Are Bananas? The Carbon Footprint of Everything‘.
The decisions we make, once we’re aware of the issues and impacts of what we choose to buy, can make a real difference. There are several ways to buy with a clean conscience:
A positive choice
Try to favour particular ethical products, such as energy saving lightbulbs, a renewable energy supply, organic produce, Fairtrade items, and ethical bank accounts where they invest in projects and companies that are trying to do good.
Avoid products that you disapprove of, such as battery eggs, gas-guzzling cars, or products containing unsustainable palm oil.
You could even extend this to an entire company, for example the Nestle boycott (the world’s longest running boycott, starting in the 1970s) targets all its brands and subsidiaries in a bid to get the company to change the way it markets its baby milk formula across the world.
Another example is Amazon, with a movement to trace supplier direct and cut out the middle man.
Source it second hand
Buying used items is a great way to get something new without using up fresh natural resources. Clothes are an easy win here, you could even organise a clothes swap with friends.
Choosing to shop in charity shops for books, music, household items and clothes is a great way to ensure things get the reuse they deserve and you’re supporting a good cause into the bargain.
Check out this inspiring blog from a member of staff at SCFT who decided not to buy anything for a year,