We occasionally need to buy things for our business, from electronics to clothing, software and stationery. These are our procurement guidelines.

General Purchasing Guidelines

Before making a purchase, we always consider the performance of the item against its social and environmental impact and cost. In an ideal world, everything we buy would be fit for purpose, socially responsible, environmentally sustainable and cheap.

As a minimum, you should ensure that suppliers comply with our Supplier Code of Conduct.

Look for the following trust marks to identify good practices within relevant industries and favour suppliers who do:

  • Certified B Corp – all industries
  • Living Wage Foundation – all industries
  • Fair Tax Mark – all industries
  • FSC – paper products
  • Soil Association Organic – food products
  • Cyber Essentials Certified – digital suppliers
  • EU Energy Rating A or above – electronic goods

In addition, the following guidelines should help you to find a positive supplier.

Need: Before buying anything, we first assess whether we really need it. What’s the need we’re trying to address and could this be fulfilled by an alternative solution, such as renting or borrowing? Buying nothing is usually the best solution in terms of environmental impact and cost. If we do need to purchase the item, we use the following criteria.

Performance: The product or service must be fit for purpose, otherwise it fails to meet our needs and wastes money and natural resources. When assessing performance, aim to find the Goldilocks level, i.e. the middle ground. If something underperforms it won’t meet our needs, but if it over performs it usually ends up wasting money and natural resources, as high performing items tend to be less efficient.

Social and environmental impact: Always aim to purchase products and services that are socially responsible in terms of their production and use, as well as achieving a high level of environmental sustainability. We will never purchase products that exploit child labour or workers, and we aim to add social value by buying local, independently produced goods and services where possible. Local products can also reduce environmental impact, as can buying secondhand or refurbished goods and assessing products according to Tom’s Sustainable Design Manifesto. Furthermore, where suitable suppliers are available, we should aim to give preference to suppliers owned and operated by underrepresented groups.

Cost: 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’s financially viable to do so.

Payment & Receipts: Where possible, we’ll make the purchase directly with our company card. However, as long as the purchase has been agreed in advance, you can buy the item and submit an expense claim. File your claim as per our expenses policy, ensuring you give us the original VAT receipt to file in the accounts.

Buying Guide

Hardware, computers and devices: Electronic products have a high environmental impact. Therefore aim to buy secondhand equipment with low energy consumption where possible. If you can’t find a suitable product within the required timeframe then you can buy a new item, but try to select a manufacturer with good social and environmental standards.

We recommend:

  • Recono.me – a fellow Certified B Corp based in London, who can help source refurbished machines and refurbish or recycle our old ones
  • Backmarket – a great place to find a wide range of refurbished computers, phones and peripherals
  • Apple have a section on their website listing refurbished products
  • eBay – for secondhand devices if not available from a more reliable source
  • John Lewis for new equipment, due to their socially responsible business practices and extended warranty on electronics

Software: We often have limited choice over which software we purchase. Where possible, aim to use software that’s 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.

Clothing: 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. They supply good quality organic garments, screen-printed by hand with water-based inks in Somerset.
  • Rapanui: They 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.

Stationery: We don’t buy a lot of stationery, but sometimes need to buy pens, pencils, paper, etc., 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.
  • Printed products should use non-toxic water-based inks wherever possible.

Recommended suppliers include:

If you have any questions about purchasing for Wholegrain business, please ask one of the Directors.