Ecological code of ethics
Firstly, formulate an ecological code of ethics which should be part of the institution’s policy and mission (see: INSTITUTIONAL POLICY). Built into this code should be principles of ecologically ethical cooperation, especially relevant with commercial partners. Below are some suggestions:
1. Plan your purchases. Planning your expenses well will make it possible to purchase only the necessary products and will allow you to choose an appropriate seller or service provider.
2. Instead of buying – rent. This can work particularly well in the case of multimedia equipment. Its market and practical value drops very quickly due to the whirlwind speed of technological development. A tremendous amount of electronic devices are being produced only for them to immediately become electro waste. Rent and you will save money and reduce waste. If you own such equipment, share it with other organisations, particularly those with a smaller financial capital.
3. Buy locally. When you enter into cooperation with a local business, you support the local economy. The capital remains in local circulation instead of supplying foreign accounts of market giants often registered in tax havens. In addition, the supply chain at every stage of production is easier to verify and, above all, local transport reduces the emission of carbon dioxide.
4. Buy for democracy and support cooperatives and alternative business models based on the social and solidarity economy model.
5. Choose products with certificates of ecological and ethical trade.
6. Check companies with which you cooperate for their ecological and social policies. Verify which raw materials they use for production and how they dispose of and or recycle waste. Do they observe the labour code? Do they pay taxes?
7. Avoid cooperating with big corporations, choose small and medium companies, preferably local ones. This way you look after a more sustainable distribution of goods and money among local companies and employees.
8. Check how banks invest your money. Do they hold shares of unethical companies or projects associated with fossil fuel mining, exploitation of land or theft of water?
Revising the existing economic relationships
Based on the ecological code of ethics, analyse the network of economic relationships in which your institution operates. Perhaps not all services are necessary, perhaps some may be limited? For instance, publishing services (cooperation with printing houses) – consider limiting printing of promotional and information materials to the necessary minimum (see: COMMUNICATION). Another example is gardening services – less frequent mowing of lawns or sowing a wildflower meadow, which you only need to mow once or twice a year will be much better for the environment (see: NATURE).
You can also re-evaluate some of the services and notice the potential craftsmanship qualities. Let us go back to traditional printing services. As part of your programme, you can organise, for example, a linocut workshop, teaching the participants how to make graphic copies using this technique. Apart from knowledge, you also provide participants with specific skills which they could monetise in the future. You can use the linocuts created at the workshop for promotional and communication purposes. They will certainly be treated with greater respect by the recipients than the mass-produced leaflets. Certainly, you can replace some of your business partners with other forms of entrepreneurship based on cooperative capital (cooperatives, cooperatives). Take a look at the policies of partner companies. Do they subscribe to similar environmental values as your institution? If not, do not give up this cooperation right away, try to renegotiate the terms of contract.
Social and solidarity economy entities and social enterprises are forms of legal entities which are managed in a democratic manner, their activities are not profit-oriented, and are guided by the values of social and economic good. The democratic management principle is based on involving members of the cooperative in the decision-making process, unlike in ordinary business enterprises where decisions are made by the owners. This ensures that people working for the cooperative have full influence on the direction of the enterprise’s development and business decisions. The activity is non-profit because the generated income is not privatised, but supports further development of the company and/or its employees. The overriding goal of the cooperative is to create jobs, thus contributing to the professional activation of excluded or marginalised people, professional and social reintegration, improvement of the economic status of the local community and local economic development. The solidarity aspect of such enterprises also engenders mutual support by creating dedicated networks and aid funds. From the point of view of eco-ethics, such entities refute the economic relations of exploitation and abuse by their very practice. Support them by using them. In this way, you can take care of the good economic, social and psychological condition (fight against exclusion and unemployment) of the place where you live and work. By cooperating with these entities, you also have a greater opportunity to agree on the principles of cooperation, e.g. by agreeing on specific products to be used in the production of your order. The most popular entities of the social and solidarity economy are social cooperatives, labor cooperatives, disabled people’s cooperatives, but also non-governmental organisations conducting economic activity. These entities, just like other enterprises, issue invoices for goods and services, and a cultural institution may settle accounts with them. Over the last few years, cooperative development policy has developed significantly. There are special online search engines (e.g. http://www.bazaps.ekonomiaspoleczna.gov.pl/), with a location filter, which will help us to easily find potential partners for supplying goods and services for our institution.
Cooperating with individuals
Consider supporting individuals from your local community by buying goods and services directly from selected people or informal groups. Such entities often do not have legal status and cannot issue invoices. Bear in mind, however, that you can settle accounts with individuals on the basis of a sale and purchase agreement.
Cultural institutions make their spaces available for long-term rental or one-off commercial events. Analyse each proposal carefully, because it affects not only the natural environment, but also the public image of your institution. If an institution promotes drinking tap water, but the restaurant that sublets its premises only serves bottled water, this inconsistency will greatly inhibit the process of changing everyday habits. The same is true for such things as plastic disposable tableware during commercial events. Such lack of consistency inhibits the process of promoting change and may lead to accusations of an inconsistent approach to creating an ecologically responsible organisation. Include appropriate provisions in lease agreements, especially regarding waste management and not using plastics, but also in promoting ecological attitudes. In this way, we can jointly shape our ecological practices and educate our audience and partners.
One good example is ‘Wars i Sawa w Nowym’ bistro which hires space at the Nowy Theatre in Warsaw, and also serves as a staff canteen. The dishes served there are vegan and vegetarian.