Pillar 1: Mindful Sourcing

What do we mean by "Mindful Sourcing"?

As an ecommerce brand, you aren’t going to get far without having products on your (virtual) shelves! This pillar asks you to address ways in which you might be able to have a positive impact on sourcing and supply chains. By taking action at this very foundational stage of your enterprise, you'll be able to maximise the positive impact further down the line.

This pillar is all about your Supply Chain, encompassing the following topics:

  • Sustainable Materials

  • Ethical Sourcing

  • Ethical Practices

  • Supply Chain Transparency

As an ecommerce brand, you aren’t going to get far without having products on your (virtual) shelves! This pillar asks you to address ways in which you might be able to have a positive impact on sourcing and supply chains. By taking action at this very foundational stage of your enterprise, you'll be able to maximise the positive impact further down the line.

Let's start with QUICK WINS!

This section will outline some of the quickest ways to start winning in the world of mindful sourcing. Supply chain and the way that products are secured is a huge consideration for any retail brand.

Big change might not happen overnight – but there are some questions that you can be asking right away to get moving in the right direction!

1. Are you sure you're sourcing sustainable and ethical materials?


WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? Even with the best intentions as a merchant, it's easy to get overwhelmed and bogged down in research. It's often difficult to trust everything you hear and easy to fall for greenwashing and transparency flaws of manufacturers and supply chains. The good news - there are experts out there who are helping merchants get a clear and accurate idea of where to place their trust.


Social Plastic ® is reprocessed ocean-bound plastic feedstock that is transformed and reintroduced into the global supply chain, demonstrating environmental, social, and economic impact.

Use Social Plastic ® - ethically recovered material, which transfers its value to communities in need. Type of plastic available includes PET, LDPE, HDPE and YARN.

2. Do you pay your suppliers a fair price?

MINDFUL SOURCING: ETHICAL PRACTICES WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? Of course, margins are important. But the keyword here is fair. Are you building your business at the expense of other people and communities? If you are, this is not acceptable, brands should not profit from the exploitation of their workers.

Forcing overly competitive prices (e.g. £2 for a Tshirt) can lead to suppliers cutting corners - resulting in unethical and unsustainable practices. Consumers are becoming more willing to pay a premium for brands who invest heavily in protecting their suppliers. Communicate with your suppliers and make sure they are happy with what you’re paying them.


Clifton Coffee pay a significant premium for all of their coffee via direct trade agreements. Forming long term partnerships with communities in the developing world is helping to support positive projects like building schools and installing sustainable irrigation.

Clifton Coffee

3. Are you positively impacting the environment in how you source your products and materials?

MINDFUL SOURCING: ETHICAL PRACTICES WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? Leaving no trace is an excellent ambition. But how about leaving the environment better than you found it? Rather than just taking, what can you give back to those who are such a big part of your business?


Pukka Herbs source ingredients from all around the world and are working on a number of regenerative organic agriculture projects to build farmer knowledge and mitigate the effects of climate change whilst improving yields. Could you do something similar? "Our vision is to build a truly sustainable organic value chain. To work closely with our farmers and growers to find effective, natural, low-carbon ways to boost yields in a changing climate. To always pay fair and decent prices for harvests, creating sustainable livelihoods and supporting thriving communities." - Pukka Herbs

Let's move on to the BIG WINS!

Big wins are more significant action you can take to making a difference in the world, let's dig in to the sourcing big wins!

4. Are you positively improving the lives of suppliers and their communities? (big win)



Again, paying a fair wage to your suppliers is the bare minimum - they give you so much and this makes it extremely important to treat them well. Can you do more to ensure the people you work alongside have thriving livelihoods?

Nurturing supplier relationships by giving back to their community will build loyalty and productivity, both of which are needed for long-term, rewarding partnerships. CASE STUDY: FAIR FOR LIFE

Sourcing products and materials that are subject to a rigorous certification program like Fair for Life can help ensure that supplier communities really benefit.

Fair For Life

Could you also consider donating a percentage of your profits to charities in your supplier’s local community?

5. Have you mapped your supply chain to identify risks and opportunities for improvement?


Shining a light on your entire supply chain is a huge challenge, not to mention  an ongoing task. But it's the only way to ensure that everything going into the production of your products meets a standard to be proud of.

Undergoing a full audit of your supply chain will identify opportunities for improvement - mapping everything out will help you to improve your level of impact. PEOPLE WHO CAN HELP YOU: PROVENANCE

Provenance can help you to get to know your entire supply chain and  will support you to make realistic sustainability claims using blockchain technology and AI.

Ready to make some real changes and fully embrace Mindful Sourcing?

Sourcing sustainably and ethically is a real challenge - but thankfully it’s becoming easier to get a handle of. As public knowledge about sustainability and ethics increases, brands must be aware of everything that needs to happen in order to develop the products that they sell. Consumers are demanding transparency so brands need to be prepared to answer questions when asked.

Act now, take steps to ensure you’re doing everything you can with regard to the impact of your sourcing.

Resource: Mindful Masterclass #1

We’re committed to finding, celebrating and learning from the many businesses already out there doing incredible things in the world of sustainable ecommerce – and it all begins with Mindful Sourcing…

We’re keen to convey the fact that creating a sustainably sourced product is just the beginning when it comes to building a low impact ecommerce business. While you can’t build a business of this nature without considering your sourcing, it truly is the very first step in a longer, and more committed journey.

Create a “sustainable” business that pushes an unsustainable product, and you’ll lose all credibility. Create a sustainable product, but sell it through a business that disregards the footprint left by its operation, and you’ll be dogged by accusations of greenwashing.

Our favourite brands use Mindful Sourcing as their cornerstone – a strong foundation, usually sparking from a personal passion or flash of inspiration – the “sudden realisation that started it all.” One such business is UpCircle, who create gorgeously indulgent and super effective beauty products out of the waste by-products of other industries, from artisan coffee grounds to juiced blueberries!

Read more about the secret to their success here: Mindful Masterclass: Sourcing - UpCircle.

Or, head to the next pillar 👉🏽 Mindful Products.