Sep/Oct 2017

Readers' Letters


from Ethical Consumer Issue 168, September/October 2017


Energy demands
The Inside View article of Jul/Aug 2017 (EC167) on community energy demand management was very interesting to me. We do already have some other types of individual and corporate energy demand management though.

As a result of previous government support, one million homes in the UK now have solar panels on their roofs. I am sure many of these home owners have learned, as I have, to do their own individual energy demand management. For example, it makes sense to use domestic appliances when the sun is shining and electricity (at no cost) comes down directly from the solar panels.

Another innovation is to have a device fitted which detects when your solar electricity starts going out to the grid. The device redirects your solar electricity to your immersion heater, which heats your water.

Although the subsidy is going, the solar panels on the one million homes will be delivering electricity for decades to come, and home owners can innovate with energy demand management.

I expect you also know that large scale energy demand management has been around for years. For example, National Grid works with Kiwi Power demand management and negotiates lower charges for corporate consumers who agree to change their energy demand pattern. This helps reduce the peak loads required from power stations, allowing them run more efficiently.
In my view, the increase in electric cars and domestic battery storage will also make better use of the output of community energy project too.

Norman Pasley, by email



Time to change Fairtrade?
I heard about Sainsbury’s moving to their own certification rather the Fairtrade Foundation. After reading about it I was only glad that they were not moving to Rainforest Alliance.
Perhaps the Fairtrade movement has succeeded so far that the free market can be relied on to increase standards in the market for tea and coffee? I wonder at the present time if activist effort would be best spent introducing Fairtrade principles to other commodities, for example conflict minerals, rather than commodities where supply chains have been settled for some time now?

Matthew Albery, by email

Ed: We look at this subject in more detail in Inside View on page 54. We probably need to keep up pressure across all sectors for quite a few years to come mind you.



Focus on new ethical brands plea
I love the work you do at EC. I notice a trend in your email surveys towards giving the community a list of brands to choose from with the question “which company should we research?”. Many we already know, and we can probably guess are less than ethical. This is sub optimal because the community does not get the chance to ask the EC team to spend time finding new, innovative and highly ethical brands we were not yet aware of.

The EC team redirecting their efforts toward bringing these brands to our attention would have many benefits including supporting these companies in their critical, initial phase, and making ethical consumption more about a positive forward looking lifestyle.

I think there is a strong case for EC to slightly change focus, or at least in future community surveys to include an option to “tell us about more super-ethical brands we have not yet heard of.”

Ulrik, posted on our Forums

Ed: Thanks for this. We do also give people the opportunity to tweet us names of companies to go on our survey lists before we compile them.



Delving into the Dragon’s Den
In view of the companies owned/run by Dragons Den members, is it possible to feature the dragons themselves? I’d be very interested in their ethics! Without sourcing companies they own I’d guess Debra Meaden the most ethical. Terrific magazine, I mention it as often as possible to friends and family.

Paul Soane, by email