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.