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 the environment, human rights, workers’ rights, politics and product sustainability.

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 25 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.

Transparent

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.

Scoring system

Each company receives a score out of 15, while individual products can score a maximum of 20 points.

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

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

Product scores are 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 can therefore score more highly than the company that owns it.

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.

The ratings categories

Our ratings consist of around 300 in nineteen key areas, which are split between five main categories:

Animals

Our research on animals is divided into three main areas:

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

Environment

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

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

People

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

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

Politics

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

Sustainability

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

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