Love this ban that!


As part of our birthday celebrations, we asked 20 of the UK’s leading politicians and campaigners two questions:
 

What is your favourite ethical product of the last 20 years?

and

If you could ban just one product on ethical grounds what would it be?

 

Andy Atkins

Andy Atkins

Executive Director, Friends Of the Earth

 

Favourite ethical consumer product:

The Brompton fold-up bike. I ride mine all over the place – from the train station to work, to meetings, to interviews, and on all sorts of errands at home. It’s a fantastic invention, a great way to cut your carbon footprint and avoid getting stuck in traffic jams.

 

Product to ban:

Patio heaters really annoy me. It’s just so pointless heating the open air and is a complete waste of energy and carbon emissions: if you want to sit outside when it’s cold, go and grab a coat. With dangerous climate change just around the corner we can no longer afford to be frivolous with energy.

To cut our carbon emissions we’ve got to get serious about saving energy instead – starting with our homes and offices which are leaking heat and bumping up our fuel bills. We really shouldn’t be adding gardens to this list. But there’s only so much we can do on our own: the Government has got to make it cheaper and easier for people to properly insulate their buildings and benefit from the cash savings it would bring.

 

 

Greg Clark

Hilary Benn

Secretary of State for the Environment

 

Favourite ethical consumer product:

Fairtrade. The whole Fairtrade movement has had an enormous impact and changed people's lives. It's a brilliantly simple idea that builds a relationship between the farmer and the person buying the product. We know that by our choice we will help them get a fair price.

 

Product to ban:

Bluefin Tuna. I want to see Bluefin Tuna - which is threatened with extinction because of over-fishing - put on the CITES Appendix 1 endangered list. This would have the effect of stopping the trade in Bluefin Tuna.

 

 

Campaign Against Arms Trade

Campaign Against the Arms Trade

 

Favourite ethical consumer product:

Ethical investment and ethical pensions. The growth of ethical pensions and investments have been a big plus.

They enable both individuals and organisations (councils, universities, charities etc) to choose not to invest in weapons companies and other unethical companies. This is a both symbolic and practical action and because it involves long-term decisions that go well beyond conventional consumerism.

 

Product to ban:

Ideally we would ban all weapons but since we have to choose, we will go for the most expensive and destructive - military aircraft.

These are designed for and used in conflict, kill indiscriminately (mainly civilians), are sold to countries in conflict, help support corrupt and repressive regimes and divert valuable resources from development needs, such as water and sanitation systems, improved housing, health and education.

 

 

Climate Camp Activists

Choices made by a number of different activists.

 

Favourite ethical consumer product:

Ideas and time; something I made myself; the bicycle

 

Product to ban:

Carbon Offsets are a completely unacceptable ‘product’ which pretends that you can purchase away your emissions. Offsets are part of the elaborate machinery of carbon trading that governments and businesses use to obscure the simple fact that carbon trading does not and will not lower emissions. We cannot apply the same faulty logic of our failed economic system to our planet. Nature doesn't do bailouts.

Agrofuels are disastrous for the ecosystem and are consistently produced in a context of human rights abuses. The obsession of big business and government with these so-called ‘bio-fuels’ just goes to show that 'just because it sounds green doesn't make it green'. Agro-fuels are a blatant example of greenwash, but we won't close our eyes to their unsustainable social and environmental impacts.

 

 

Caroline Fernandez

Caroline Fernandez

Women’s Environmental Network

 

Favourite ethical consumer product:

Real nappies. They save such a lot of money and waste from going to landfill/incineration and they also have less impact on global warming than disposables.

 

Product to ban:

Cheap internal and short-haul flights. I’d ban these so that it is more economic to choose the train or environmentally more responsible, if slower options.

 

 

Mike Gidney

Mike Gidney
Fairtrade Foundation

 

Favourite ethical consumer product:

Zaytoun Fairtrade Palestinian Olive Oil. This is produced by marginalized Palestinian farmers and provides much needed income to olive farmers struggling to make a living.

 

Product to ban:

4X4s.  Unless you live or work in the deepest countryside there's no excuse.

 

 

Rob Harrison

Rob Harrison
Editor, Ethical Consumer

 

Favourite ethical consumer product:

Organic Faitrade cotton jeans from Bishopston Trading. My second favourite item are organic boxer shorts from Gossypium.

 

Product to ban:

Any item produced using child labour. This is still a big issue in the production of cotton. My second least favourite product is anything requiring fossil fuels, though you'd need to phase them out using an increasingly forceful carbon tax.

 

 

Caroline Higginson
Labour Behind The Label

 

Favourite ethical consumer product:

Naomi Klein’s book No Logo. It engaged many more people in the debate about the responsibility of big business for workers making their product around the world.

 

Product to ban:

Throwaway fashion. Cheap garments are only made possible by the exploitation of labour and natural resources, someone somewhere is paying the price for that product. Fashion should be about beautiful clothes that we treasure.

 

  

John Hilary
Executive Director, War On Want

 

Favourite ethical consumer product:

Zaytoun Palestinian Fairtrade and organic olive oil.

 

Product to ban:

Private health insurance. This is a creeping threat to the integrity of public health systems across the world.

 

  

Patrick Holden
Director of the Soil Association

 

Favourite ethical consumer product:

Anything made from organic cotton from towels and bed linen to socks and shirts. Non-organic cotton is one of the most sprayed crops in the world using one quarter of the world’s pesticides, seriously harming the environment as well as the cotton workers in developing countries. By buying organic cotton products I know I can really make a positive difference for people and the planet.

 

Product to ban:

I would definitely ban intensively produced chicken. Its production is a welfare abomination and indirectly it’s responsible for the destruction of rainforest as result of soya production and antibiotic resistance transfer spread into human populations. We just should not eat them and the sooner they are banned the better.

 

 

Simon Hughes
Liberal Democrat

Shadow Energy & Climate Change

 

Favourite ethical consumer product:

Locally grown food, it always has been and always will be. As
individuals and as a country we must significantly reduce our food miles.

 

Product to ban:

Standby for televisions and other electrical appliances. It is estimated that standby functions use 2% of all UK electricity. Getting rid of them could save almost a million tonnes of carbon emissions each year.

 

 

Jenny Jones
Green Party London Assembly Member

 

Favourite ethical consumer product:

The increasing range and availability of organic produce and seasonal, locally grown food plus all Fairtrade produce. I'd like to see all produce imported from developing countries to be Fairtrade. Of course, our farmers and producers also need to be paid a fair price by supermarkets.

 

Product to ban:

Plane tickets to anywhere it's possible to get to by train. It's time we accepted that flying is too dangerous and costly to the environment.

 

 

Boris Johnson
Mayor of London

 

Favourite ethical consumer product:

I am completely blown away by the rapid development of electric vehicle technology. We are now reaching a tipping point whereby electric powered vehicles will be a mainstream choice which will deliver massive benefits for London with regard to air quality, pollution levels and reduced carbon emissions.

This is a tremendously exciting period and one that I am gearing up the capital to embrace through the installation of the infrastructure needed to drive these vehicles with confidence.

 

Product to ban:

I believe in carrots rather than sticks, and the firm conviction that this way, people will do the right thing for the environment.

We are creating a public cycle hire scheme in London to make it easier for people to take to two wheels rather than take more polluting forms of transport. I am also pursuing the introduction of schemes that incentivises people to recycle their waste rather than be penalised for not doing so.

 

 

Liz O'Neill
Head of Communications, Vegetarian Society


Favourite ethical consumer product:

Charity shop clothes. This is because they combine recycling,
supporting a good cause and buying new clothes on a budget.

 

Product to ban:

All meat and animal flesh. This is for the sake of the animals, obviously, but also to end the extraordinary environmental damage caused by the livestock industry, which produces more greenhouse gas emissions (18%) than the world's entire transport system (13.5%).

 

 

Helen Starr-Keddle
Action For Sustainable Living


Favourite ethical consumer product:

My wind-up torch. It goes everywhere with me from camping trips

in the countryside to festivals around the country. No longer do I have to fumble around in the dark when my batteries have run out! 

 

Product to ban:

4 x 4s. I would ban them or at least put a condition on purchase where the buyer has to prove they actually need one for their lifestyle e.g. farmer or person who lives down a dirt track road.
 

 

Ben Stewart
Head of Communications Greenpeace UK


Favourite ethical consumer product:

Eurostar to the continent. It’s the start of a network to challenge Britain's addiction to flying

 

Product to ban:

Blue fin tuna. It’s an endangered species just like rhinos or tigers, but it’s not being protected and is still served up as sushi in restaurants.

 

 

Peter Tatchell
Human Rights campaigner &

Green Party candidate for Oxford East


Favourite ethical consumer product:

I am a chocoholic, so it’s got to be Traidcraft's Fair Trade, Organic Dark Chocolate with 70% cocoa. Bliss! I also admire simple items like solar-powered calculators, kinetic watches and low-energy light bulbs which are already making a small but significant contribution to cutting energy use and combating climate destruction. If the whole world switched, their impact would be even greater.

 

Product to ban:

All battery-farmed animal products on the grounds of health and animal welfare, as well as on energy and environmental grounds. Meat farming is one of the biggest contributors to global warming. I would like to see more people give up meat - even for just two days a week. The positive ethical effects would be huge.

 

 

Jason Torrance
Policy Director, Sustrans


Favourite ethical consumer product:

The National Cycle Network, which started in 1995, is now more than 12,000 miles long, passes within one mile of over half of the UKs population and carried 386 million walking and cycling trips last year.
 

Product to ban:

Coal fired power stations for their devasting role in climate change. If we continue generating our electricity from coal, then current Government plans to tackle climate change using electric cars and trains will come to nothing.

 

 

Judy Ling Wong
UK Director, Black Environment Network


Favourite ethical consumer product:

A wind up torch. It gives us free light as well as protects the environment from the awful chemicals in batteries. I wish the government would do away with street lights altogether in villages and give everyone free wind up torches, they would  pay for themselves in the end.
 

Product to ban:

Plastic bags. It is not just about the enormous amount of materials involved they are made of but the dangers for wildlife on land and in the sea.

 

 

Greg Barker

Shadow Climate Change Minister

 

Favourite ethical consumer product:

Smart meters. I chose these because of their importance as a driver of real behavioural change. They have the power to revolutionise people’s relationship with the energy they use.

 

Product to ban:

Incandescent light bulbs. The Conservatives support the forthcoming EU ban of traditional incandescent light bulbs. We want to get people to the point where it becomes the norm to make cost-efficient low carbon choices in their existing homes, such as installing low energy light-bulbs.

In time, technological innovation will hopefully allow for the current generation of mercury-based low energy light-bulbs to be replaced by a new generation of LED bulbs.