Ethical and sustainable sourcing

Ethical and sustainable sourcing are at the heart of an environmentally friendly sourcing plan. We’ll look at the differences between ethical sourcing and sustainable sourcing and how they are integrated in business.

What is ethical sourcing?

Ethical sourcing is considering how and where products are made and what they are made of. Ethical sourcing takes a responsible approach to procurement and documents each step of the process for the sake of transparency. This starts from the sourcing of the raw materials. It also looks at the situation of the employees who make the products, (e.g. their working conditions, pay, etc). Ethical sourcing ensures fair trade for the production of the goods.

What is sustainable sourcing?

Sustainable sourcing incorporates ethical sourcing, social consideration, and environmental factors.. It goes beyond ethical sourcing by looking at human rights and the impact on climate of the production of the goods. It looks at the wider picture of increased production levels and their impact on the environment and community. Sustainable sourcing focuses on the longer term and it encompasses areas of concern like energy use, employment, fair trade and the use of finite resources.

Why is sustainable sourcing important?

The impact of excessive production on our natural world is obvious in the changes to climate. We continue to extract natural resources and destroy native forests in a bid to produce more each year. Our newspapers are full of reports of the inequality in the world and the divergence of wealth distribution globally. Sustainable sourcing aims to help address the balancing act between economic growth and saving our planet. That is why sustainable sourcing is important.

Sustainable sourcing examples

We are proud that our members go to extraordinary effort to ensure ethical sourcing and sustainable sourcing. Here are some examples:

James Ince Umbrellas have been making umbrellas in London since 1805. They make handcrafted umbrellas from locally sourced and traceable components. This reduces the need for international freight. They also pass on traditional techniques to their workforce. Ince Umbrellas are a living wage employer and they work with local charities to help people get off the streets.

Bloody Brilliant Pads was born out of a search for sustainably sourced and plastic-free period products. Many of the period products on the market contain plastic or micro-plastics which are now known to pollute our rivers and oceans. BB Pads are made out of sustainably produced plant fibres that are plastic free and chemical free. Their supply chain is transparent. They are involved in community campaigns to end period poverty and advocate for human rights. They address the ethical, social and environmental factors in the manufacturing of their product. BB Pads were a finalist for the Global Impact Award in the Blue Patch Sustainability Awards this year.

These are just two examples out of hundreds of companies that we work with at Blue Patch. The ingenuity and passion of our members is inspiring and they help each other to improve their long term sustainability.

Is your company working towards ethical or sustainable sourcing? We would love to hear your story. Join in the conversation on social media, sign up for our newsletter or contact us about becoming a member.

Annette Clubley

Annette is a keen wildlife conservationist, mindful of sustainability and our impact on the environment. Outside of work, family is her focus and she loves teaching the next generation to enjoy the outdoors.