BLOG: Do Good Buy Social

By Becky Lythgoe, director at Greenstream Flooring

There are many choices we have to make when purchasing an item, starting with the personal do I need it?  Do I want it?  But beyond these what are the questions we then ask about the impact of that purchase?

When you buy from a social enterprise you not only obtain the item you want and need but support a business with a social and / or environmental mission.  This means buying from a business that is not concerned about making a profit for an individual or group, but profit for good.  That purchasing choice might help save an item from going to landfill, maybe it supports the employment of local people or individuals facing barriers to a traditional workplace, perhaps by buying an item you support somebody else to receive a similar item.  The way a social enterprise operates is as varied as any business, plus a bit more!

Should we be striving to offer the ‘perfect’ product or service though as a social enterprise?  Being ethical, having a conscience, doing the right thing are all terms to describe the dilemmas we face at Greenstream Flooring. 

A good source of purchasing from ethical companies is The Good Shopping Guide which reveals the good, the bad, and the ugly of the world’s companies and brands, assisting you in choosing more eco-friendly, ethical products that support the growth of social responsibility and ethical business as well as a more sustainable, just society.

We want to make sure that when people decide to purchase from us here at Greenstream, they are doing good, but this means we are constantly reviewing our offer.  We want to provide our customers with choices that answer that individual need of do I need it, do I want it?  But we want to be honest that in order to do this we need to act in the area of doing good not being perfect! 

When you purchase a new product, one that has been imported maybe, rather than buying British or buying reclaimed, that purchase still has a positive effect.  It directly supports the work we do, enables us to offer products that are ‘better’ for the environment, and ensures our ability to research and develop alternatives. 

It also supports the economic purchasing chain.  We seek to support responsible business across our whole supply chain.  We look to other social enterprises and community organisations to work with. For example, we work with The Arts Factory Design Studio for our design needs, we have away days at The Factory, we support TooGoodToWaste by purchasing office furniture and our energy is supplied from Octopus Energy.

In 2019 a report “Mapping the Social Business Sector in Wales” published by Wales Co-operative Centre revealed that there are over 2,022 social enterprises, employing more than 55,000 people, with an estimated value of £3.18 billion.  This provides plenty of purchasing choices from web design and printing services to paper recycling, from shower gel to renewable energy, and so much more.  Each of those purchases does not have to be the perfect purchase, it just needs to be a better purchase. 

A purchase can do good by reducing negative environmental impact, increasing positive social impact, and contribute to social change.

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