Whether it be computers, software, stationery or clothing, we do from time to time need to buy things as a business. In doing so, we need to understand how to decide what to buy, where to buy it from and what to do with it after we’ve purchased it.
When purchasing anything for the company, we need to balance performance with social and environmental impact and cost. In an ideal world, everything that we buy would be fit for purpose, socially responsible, environmentally sustainable and cheap. However, in most cases, we will need to compromise and the below guidelines should help you to find the right balance.
Before buying anything, we must assess whether we really need to buy anything at all. What is the need that we are trying to address? Is it a real need, and could this need be fulfilled without buying anything – perhaps with an alternative solution, or by renting or borrowing something? To buy nothing is usually the best solution in terms of environmental impact and cost, so it should always be our first choice. If we do need to buy something, then we should use the following criteria:
We must ensure that the product or service is fit for purpose. Otherwise, it will fail to meet our need and waste money and natural resources. When assessing performance, you must aim to find the Goldilocks level of performance – not too little, not too much but just right. While too little performance will not meet our needs, too much performance can waste money and natural resources because high performance products are often less efficient.
Social and environmental impact
We should always be aiming to use products and services that are socially responsible in their production and use, as well as achieving a high level of environmental sustainability. We must never knowingly purchase products that use child labour or exploit workers and we should aim to add social value by buying local, independently produced goods and services wherever possible. Local products can also reduce environmental impact, as can buying second-hand or refurbished goods and assessing products according to Tom’s Sustainable Design Manifesto.
As a business, we aim to not spend any more money on stuff than is required to meet our practical needs. The only exception to this is where a more socially and/or environmentally responsible product is available, in which case we’ll pay a premium for it if it is financially viable to do so.
Payment & Receipts
Where possible, purchases should be made with a company debit card but can be purchased by individuals who must then submit an expense claim. A valid receipt is required to be filed immediately for all company purchases. Please see our expense policy for details of how to submit your claim
Care of products
The team members entrusted with any products owned by the company must take good care of them by using them responsibly and storing and transporting them safely. If advice or assistance is required to care for products, then the team member responsible must ask another team member or manager.
If a product is accidentally damaged or found to be faulty, you must report and return it immediately to a manager so that a repair or replacement can be arranged. This is especially important in the case of product faults as a delay in reporting and returning the product could void our ability to claim a repair or replacement under the product warranty.
If you no longer need an item owned by the company, you must return it immediately so that other team members can use it or it can be sold, donated or recycled. Similarly, if you require a new, updated product, then you must return the old one. Company property is not your own to keep or dispose of.
Hardware, computers and devices
Electronic products have a high environmental impact. Therefore, wherever possible, you should aim to buy second-hand equipment with low energy consumption. If suitable equipment is not available second-hand within the required time frame then new equipment can be purchased, but try to select a manufacturer with good social and environmental standards where possible.
We recommend the following electronics suppliers:
- eBay – for second-hand devices
- Apple – check their refurbished products
- John Lewis – our preferred choice for new equipment due to socially responsible business practices and extended warranty on electronics as standard.
We often have limited choice over which software we purchase. Where possible, we should aim to use software that is open-source, cloud-based and tried and tested. There are specific cases where open-source or cloud-based software does not meet our requirements, particularly in the case of design software. In these cases, we have to make an exception.
We have very limited need to purchase clothing, but do sometimes buy branded clothing for team members.
When purchasing clothing, please note the following:
- It must display one of our brand names
- It should be a design that the relevant team members are happy to wear
- It should be from a socially and environmentally responsible supplier.
We recommend the following clothing suppliers:
- I Dress Myself – a fantastic supplier for batches of clothing. Good quality organic garments, screen-printed by hand with water-based inks in Somerset
- Rapanui – produce organic T-shirts printed in a wind-powered factory on the Isle of Wight. Great for one-off designs, but the quality is not as good as I Dress Myself.
We don’t buy a lot of stationery but do sometimes need to buy pens, pencils, paper, et cetera, as well as printed products such as business cards and other marketing materials.
- All products made of paper must be FSC certified or equivalent or produced from recycled materials
- Pens should be refillable where available
- Disposable items should be avoided if possible, but should otherwise be biodegradable or recyclable if possible
- Printed products should use non-toxic water-based inks wherever possible.
Some of the websites where these products can be found are:
If you have any questions about purchasing or caring for stuff at Wholegrain, please ask the Company Directors.