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Our Ethical Ratings

Ethical Consumer provides the most in depth research into corporate ethics available to the public.

We analyse in detail the policies and actions of hundreds of companies with respect to climate, workers, animals, tax conduct and company ethos

The scores on our Ethical Shopping Guides are compiled from this research to give an overview of how the brands and products within different markets compare on a wide range of ethical issues.

Up to date

The website is updated live with the latest scores and stories from our extensive research database. The database is the product of over 30 years’ research, with new data being added every day by our team of dedicated researchers.

In depth

While many ethical buying guides focus on the product,  Ethical Consumer provides unique and in-depth insight into the ethics of the companies behind the brands.

After all, isn't it better to buy a cruelty-free product from a company that doesn't test its other products on animals? Or recycled toilet paper from a firm that isn't cutting down virgin forests for its other ranges?

The activities of each company are examined by our team of highly trained researchers and measured against our ethical criteria based on the highest industry standards.


The research and rationale behind every rating is available to view on our website. By looking deeper into the Ethical Shopping Guides or by visiting our company profile pages, subscribers can see which companies own each brand, and their ethical ratings across all the different categories.

New scoring system - February 2024 onwards

We are transitioning to a new rating system. 

This will focus more on the most relevant issues in each market. 

Each brand will be scored out of 100, starting at 0 and gaining or losing marks depending on its policies and practices. 

The score tables in each new guide will always include columns on Climate, Workers, Animals, Tax and Company Ethos, as well as bespoke columns depending on the market—for example, a Materials column in the clothing guide. 

New ratings for core categories

Our Animals rating looks at:

  • Vegan policies.
  • No use of animal products (without explicit vegan policy).
  • Vegetarian policies.
  • Secondhand products only (eg clothing).
  • Animal products not significant part of business.
  • Policies to prevent the worst welfare outcomes. 
  • Involvement in high risk sectors for particularly poor animal welfare outcomes. 
  • Reputable and significant third-party criticisms.

Our Climate rating looks for:

  • A credible, detailed discussion of how a company has made emissions cuts in its main areas of impact in the past and how it will make them in the future.

For companies with annual turnover over £50 million:

  • Full annual public reporting of its emissions – all three scopes.
  • A future target for all scopes that is either approved by the SBTi or with cuts of 100% of scope one and two, and 67% of scope three, by 2050.
  • If the company works in developing new extraction fossil fuel projects, building new fossil fired power stations or in doing anything with coal.
  • Misleading public messaging on climate change, such as use of the term 'carbon neutral'. 
  • Reputable and significant third-party criticisms.

Our Company Ethos rating looks for:

  • Membership of lobby groups.
  • Executive pay over £1million.
  • Positive policy on pay ratios.
  • Production in arms and military.
  • Production in mining or fossil fuels.
  • Production in nuclear power. 
  • Core focus on environmentally or socially alternative products. 
  • Significant commitment to progressive change. 
  • Significant boycott in line with our ratings.
  • Other significant third-party criticisms.
  • Positive company structure including not-for-profit.
  • Living Wage certification.

Our Tax rating looks for:

  • Subsidiaries on our list of tax havens.
  • The Fair Tax Mark accreditation.
  • A  clear public tax statement confirming that it is company policy not to engage in tax avoidance activity and a narrative explanation for what each subsidiary located in a tax haven is for, and how it was not being used for purposes of tax minimisation.
  • Public country by country reporting of sales made and tax paid in each jurisdiction that does not show likely avoidance activities.
  • Reputable and significant third-party criticisms.

Our Workers rating looks at:

  • Supplier code of conduct.
  • Support for worker-driven monitoring in the supply chain.
  • Company publishes suppliers (higher score the more tiers published).
  • Choice of place of manufacture in relation to labour rights.
  • Purchasing/buying policies and practices.
  • Living wages commitment, action plan, methodology, achievements.
  • Work with trade unions in the supply chain.
  • Reputable and significant third-party criticisms.

For companies with annual turnover under £50 million:

  • Supplier code of conduct.
  • Company publishes suppliers (higher score the more tiers published).
  • Proportion of Fairtrade products.
  • Choice of place of manufacture in relation to labour rights.
  • Purchasing/buying policies and practices - long term relationship with suppliers, visits to monitor workers rights, manufactures products in-house. 
  • Reputable and significant third-party criticisms.

Additional bespoke ratings categories

  • Cotton is Fairtrade certified
  • Cotton is organic-certified
  • Cotton is Better Cotton Initiative certified
  • Cotton is from recycled sources
  • Cotton is not sourced from Turkmenistan
  • Cotton is not sourced from Xinjiang
  • Third-party criticism related to cotton sourcing

  • Use of sustainable materials
  • Recycling water/reducing water pollution from fabric processes
  • Use of sustainable materials, including synthetics
  • Signatory of ZDHC or own MRSL (needs an explainer)
  • Third-party criticism related to pollution

  • Takes shoes back, or designed for: genuine recycling / upper repair.
  • Options with biodegradable uppers.
  • Bio-based and vegan.
  • Cotton organic / recycled.
  • Use of recycled materials.
  • Other action on toxics.
  • Second hand only.
  • Overall focus on alternatives.
  • Uses mainly PU but taking action to reduce impacts.
  • Used leather - explicitly durable / vegetable tanned / all 'LWG' gold certified.

  • Are all products PFAS free, or majority with target date for the rest.
  • Only sells second hand.
  • Target date for phase out of PFAS and is member of 'ZDHC'.
  • Reducing PFAS but no target date and not ZDHC member.
  • Target date for banning PFAS in DWR or PTFE but not both. 
  • Some discussion or policy. 

Our sources

Our research is compiled from a wide range of primary and secondary sources. We request information directly from the companies we rate, and assess their policies on areas such as environmental reporting, animal testing, the management of workers’ rights at supplier factories and much more.

We also incorporate published research from campaign groups such as Oxfam, Friends of the Earth and War on Want, as well as other news sources, public records and directories.

Each piece of research, or ‘story’ we add to the database affects a company’s score for five years from the time it was last updated. Stories older than five years will remain on the database as a historical reference but will no longer impact company scores.

Updating our 100+ guides takes time and until we have cycled through them all, you will continue to find guides still using our previous rating system. For that reason, we have kept the details below. 

Scoring system pre-February 2024

We previously scored products out of 20 and companies out of 15. To make the guides compatible with our new rating system we have used a multiplier to create a score out of 100. 

All companies/products start with a score of 14, and points were taken away for criticism received in each of our categories (see below for a full list of categories and sub-categories).

Companies could score a positive mark under the Company Ethos category if they committed to certain things (e.g. Fairtrade) across their whole company group.

Product scores were based on the company score, with additional marks being added for positive features (such as being certified fairtrade or organic).

A product on a Shopping Guide score table could therefore score more highly than the company that owns it.

The ratings categories (up to Feb 2024)

For more detail on our new rating system as of February 2024 please see ‘Scoring system post February 2024’ above. The information below relates to the guides still using our previous scoring system, until we have updated all guides with the new system. 

Our previous ratings consisted of around 300 subcategories in nineteen key areas, which were split between five main categories:


Our research on animals is divided into three main areas:

  • Animal Testing
  • Factory Farming
  • Animal Rights & Cruelty
Learn more


As 'environment' is a very broad area, we use five different categories:

  • Environmental Reporting
  • Climate Change
  • Pollution & Toxics
  • Habitats & Resources
  • Palm Oil
Learn more


Our 'People' category is divided into 5 areas of research:

  • Human Rights
  • Workers' Rights
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Irresponsible Marketing
  • Arms & Military Supply
Learn more


Our research into a company's politics is divided into 5 areas:

  • Anti-Social Finance
  • Boycott Calls
  • Controversial Technologies
  • Political Activity
  • Tax Conduct
Learn more


We have two categories rewarding those brands making a positive impact: 

  • Company Ethos 
  • Product Sustainability (organic, fairtrade, energy efficient, vegan & vegetarian products)
Learn more