Back to Uni

Last updated: September 2017




Ethical Checklist: Back to Uni



Whether you are a first time fresher ready to kit out your new student room or a third year looking for a new laptop, follow our guide to ethical student essentials.

Ditch the greedy corporates, and instead use your money to buy from independent ethical businesses, where your money will go that little bit further. 





Laptops or tablets are a popular choice for students wanting to get a bit of work done. However, our recent research into the electronics industry found an industry plagued by human rights and environmental abuses. 

Image: Laptops


Of particular concern is the widespread use of conflict minerals to make our gadgets. This mineral trade has fuelled violence and civil war in the Democratic of Congo for decades. Apple scores best for its conflict minerals and toxic chemicals policies. 

However, we always recommend buying a second-hand or refurbished option wherever possible. 



Current Accounts


University might be your first opportunity to take charge of your finances. There is generally a widespread failure for banks to operate ethically, many choosing to invest in nuclear weapon manufacturers and fossil fuel companies.


Image: Coop Bank


However, there are some banks doing things differently. At the top of our score table sits Triodos Bank who have just launched a current account. However, if you are after a specific student account we recommend Co-op Bank or Nationwide Building Society. 





While at first call we would recommend a local independent grocery or market, we understand that for students the ease of a supermarket is hard to ignore. 


Image: Supermarket


We recommend the Co-op or Marks & Spencer which are more ethical options than ASDA or Tesco. The Co-op offer student discounts with your NUS card.

However, if you are on a tight budget, Aldi has made some positive commitments such as introducing the living wage and using 94% of its electricity from renewable sources. 





The Broadband market is dominated by the big four - Sky, Virgin, TalkTalk and BT - all which score poorly on ethics. All four of these companies have been marked down for lobbying, excessive pay for directors, and having no policy to reduce the use of toxic chemicals. 


Image: Broadband


However, there are 3 ethical options - Green ISP, GreenNet and The Phone Co-op - which score highly on our table. 





The big six energy companies still supply 85% of customers but tend to sit towards the bottom of our scorecard. However, the number of smaller companies has exploded in recent years, meaning plenty of options for ethically conscious consumers. 


Image: Energy


If you want to go with a company that only supplies 100% renewable energy, we recommend Good Energy* or Ecotricity. 

Alternatively, we also recommend Ebico, a non-profit that structures its pricing so as not to penalise the poor.



*Ethical Consumer makes a small amount of money from your purchase. This goes to fund our research and campaigning. We ethically screen all the sites we link to.


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