Ethical Alternatives

Last updated: February 2016



Greener Alternative Networks


There was once a time that your only mobile phone network option was to use one of the big boys such as Orange or T-Mobile. However as the market matures new operators with a more ethical approach are entering the market.

image of fairphone

Photo credit: Mf Architetti



The People's Operator


The People’s Operator is one such company. This network provider gives 10% of what you spend on calls and texts to a charity of your choice. At the same time it has also committed to sharing 25% of it’s profits through a new foundation.


Yasmin Azirar from the company told us:

“The TPO Foundation is a transparent and independent entity run by trustees and chaired by Sir Christopher Kelly. It was set up to award funds to organisations, local communities and charities making a positive difference to people’s lives.”

“We give users the opportunity to nominate any organisation or charity they wish. Members can choose any cause or select one from the network’s long list of partners, which includes national organisations such as The Big Issue, Children’s Heart Foundation, Childline, NSPCC, Regenerate, The Trussell Trust, and Trinity Hospice.”



Resource Utilities and Digital Spring

Resource Utilities and Digital Spring are two similar companies. The former set up Green Mobile in partnership with three green organisations – Friends of the Earth, Environmental Investigation Agency and World Land Trust. They give 5% of your monthly phone bill to one of the three charity partners of your choice. They do not supply new handsets and encourage you to keep hold of your old phone but they can sell you a refurbished one. Digital Spring operates the WWF Mobile network on the same basis with 10% of the cost of each call going to the wildlife charity.



The Phone Co-op

The Phone Co-op, which has been around for a while, also offers mobile tariffs. It is the only telecoms provider in the UK that is owned and run by its customers. The Co-op’s Fiona Ravenscroft, believes that what they offer is a true alternative in the mobile market.

“Being a consumer co-operative means we are owned by our customers who have an equal vote on key issues. They can attend the AGM to ask questions on performance, have the opportunity to participate in choosing the board (or even standing for election), and have a share in the profits.”

She added that:

“As a consumer co-operative, we abide by the internationally-recognised co-operative principles, and social and environmental responsibility underpin everything we do, from the way we conduct all business dealings to how we treat colleagues and invest our profits.”
Ethical Consumer was also pleased to hear that “We changed our network three years ago because a new provider enabled us to offer competitive pricing to all our customers along with excellent UK coverage. In addition, using the Three network meant we did not score highly in the Ethical Consumer ratings.”



Green broadband companies


There are currently four ‘green’ broadband providers – Green Mobile and Phone Co-op (see above), plus GreenNet and Green ISP.

ISP GreenNet provides email, broadband, hosting and web design services and support to both domestic users and organisations. They are a not-for-profit organisation and a founder member of the Association of Progressive Communications, an international network promoting easy and affordable access to a free and open internet to improve people’s lives and create a more just world. They also promote the use of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) and offer advice and training on sustainable and ethical IT and internet use.

GreenNet’s charity, GET, provides research on IT accessibility and sustainability, and has recently published a series of guides on ‘Greening IT’.

Green ISP was founded in 2003 and is a not-for-profit Internet Service Provider (ISP). By working with TreeSponsibility – a community based Climate Action Group – it offsets its estimated 25 tonnes of CO2 per year through planting a tree for every new broadband and web hosting customer.  The company aims to run its operations in a completely radical way, through only using renewable energy. 




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