Being an ethical consumer is easy. There are small things you can do right now that can make a big difference to the environment, animals and other people all over the world.
Here are Ethical Consumers top five tips:
1 - Change your bank account
Where your money goes has a massive impact on society. As we all know banks have been at the centre of the financial crisis but they are not all as bad as each other. Building Societies or Mutuals have a much better record than normal banks due to their structure and lending practices. The ones below came out best in our free Buyers' Guide to current and savings accounts: Norwich & Peterborough BS, Coventry BS, Cumberland BS, Leeds BS and Nationwide BS
For normal (non mutual) banks the Co-operative is an Ethical Consumer best buy. The Co-op has ethical policies in place to ensure the highest standards in the banking sector.
2 - Switch your electricity tariff
This is really easy to do and will help encourage investment in renewable energy production.
In our last report on green tariffs ethical consumer recommended Good Energy electricity, Green Energy (the Dark Green electricity tariff), Utilita Planetsaver 1 green electricity tariff and the Ecotricity New Energy Plus tariff. Check out our free Buyers' Guide to green electricity tariffs for more information
3 - Support Co-ops
You can find co-ops producing most sorts of goods from food to fridge freezers. Their internal democracy ensure a fair deal for workers as well as consumers.
For instance when buying white goods choose the Fagor brand. This is produced by the worlds largest workers co-operative, Mondragon Corporacion Co-operativa (MCC) from the Basque Country in Spain. It is Spain’s seventh largest industrial grouping, with around 160 co-ops, and it now accounts for 4% of the GDP of the Basque country. You can find Fagor products in several of the Buyers' Guides in the household appliance section of our website.
And don't forget most Fairtrade products are made by co-operatives.
4 - Change your transport habits
Cycling is not only good for you, it's a carbon-free form of transport. Take a look at Ethical Consumers Buyers' Guide to bikes to see which brands are most ethical.
If you can't do without your car why not think about switching to a more environmentally friendly model. There are loads of fuel efficient cars on the road that could save you a fortune in petrol costs as well as CO2. Take a look at Ethical Consumers Buyers Guide to cars to see which models are greenest.
And before you fill up check out our free Buyers Guide to petrol and diesel.
You could change the way you travel to European holiday destinations. Consider taking the bus or train instead of flying.
However you are traveling you can always offset your emissions. Take a look at our Buyer's Guide to carbon offsetting companies before you do to make sure you choose the most environmentally friendly option.
5 - Boycott boycott boycott
Finally a sure fire way of making companies change their behaviour is to stop buying their products until they do. Visit our boycotts section to see which companies are currently under boycott calls. Several banks (RBS, Barclays and HSBC), the energy company EDF, oil companies Shell and BP and all short-haul flights are currently under a boycott calls.