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Ethical alternatives to Amazon

Amazon is well-known for its tax avoidance and workers’ rights abuses.

Here we share our favourite ethical alternatives to Amazon – including the most ethical and eco-friendly places to shop.

Many of us have come to rely on online shopping for its ease and convenience. But with Amazon dominating the market, it can be tricky to find more ethical online retailers.

Luckily, there are a growing number of alternatives to Amazon, whether you’re looking for books, clothing or gifts. In this article, we give our recommendations for online options with proper sustainability credentials.

These ethical Amazon alternatives respect their workers, address their environmental footprint and some even support smaller independent retailers.

What are the best online alternatives to Amazon?

Amazon alternatives for books

Amazon started out as an online bookseller and has dominated the market ever since it launched. The number of independent bookshops in the UK and Ireland has almost halved since 1995, the year after Amazon was founded.

Nonetheless, it’s more than possible to buy books without Amazon. Waterstones and Blackwell's are the largest dedicated bookshops in the UK, and have online shops – although their own ethics leave something to be desired.

World of Books is an ethical website for cheap online book shopping. All books are secondhand, although many are in near-perfect condition. Hive, another great website, allows you to support local bookshops even when buying online by nominating one at the checkout. 

Local independent bookstores are also returning to the high street – with the number now at its highest in the UK since 2013. The Booksellers Association has a useful search page for finding independent bookshops.

Find more ethical Amazon alternatives for books in our Shopping Guide.

Buying Books

We look at how we can challenge the retail Goliath when buying books. There are plenty of ethical choices in the market, from secondhand charity shops to online booksellers doing things differently.

Buy Books without Amazon

Amazon alternatives for online shopping

Whether you’re looking for clothes, body care, stationary or gifts, there are lots of online retailers that offer more ethical alternatives to Amazon.

eBay is Amazon’s largest competitor, but also doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to environmental reporting, supply chain management and possible tax avoidance strategies.

Why not try Ethical Shop or Shared Earth instead? Both are perfect for gifts and stock items like cosmetics, jewellery and food.

Looking for something else? Ethical Consumer has rated and ranked 24 ethical online retailers. We check out what they sell - from cleaning products and alcohol to children’s toys.

Buying Online without Amazon

Buying Online

We look at 24 ethical online retailers. We check out what they are selling - from clothes and body care, to cleaning products and gifts - and provide alternatives who stock things also sold by Amazon. 

Buying Online without Amazon

Amazon alternatives for tablets & e-readers

Finding alternatives to Amazon in the markets it dominates, such as e-readers, can be tough. But other brands are out there. 

For e-readers, we found the Kobo e-reader, which was middling in our ethical rating system – compared to Amazon, which scored a shocking 0 out of 100. 

The iPad dominates, with over half of all tablet sales in the UK. The iPad scores 35 points more in our ethical ratings than Amazon's Kindle Fire.

Find alternatives to Amazon’s tablets and e-readers.

Tablets & e-readers

Finding alternatives to Amazon in the markets it dominates, such as e-readers, can be tough. But other brands are out there who score better than Amazon in our ethical ratings for both e-readers and tablets.

Our guide reviews 17 tablets and 2 e-reader brands.

Guide to Tablets & e-readers

Amazon alternatives for clothes

Amazon sells a range of clothing on its website. However, it performs poorly regarding key ethical issues in the sector, such as policies to protect workers in supply chains and its commitment to reducing its carbon footprint.

The clothing sector is luckily full of sustainable Amazon alternatives, offering Fairtrade, organic or other ethical fashion.

If you’re shopping on the high street, Patagonia is one of the best options. It only uses organic cotton and is working to address issues like plastic pollution. It also has an online shop.

Even better, there is a range of specialist ethical brands, such as THTC and Brothers We Stand. They have fair pay and environmental practices at the heart of their business model.

Your best option though, will always be buying second-hand: we have a whole guide of tips here, including great online clothing shops.

See our guide to high street clothes shops as well as our guide to ethical clothes shops featuring lots of independent and innovative companies.

Guide to high street clothes shops

Clothes Shops

Amazon has only signed up to a few initiatives designed to improve workers' rights and was rated to be the 'least engaged' in sustainable fashion and labour market initiatives in a 2019 UK Government report.

See our guide to high street clothes shops as well as our guide to ethical clothes shops, featuring lots of independent and innovative companies.

Guide to Clothes Shops

Alternatives for gift vouchers

Amazon gift vouchers are popular for friends and family, work occasions, and also as incentives for survey participation. The good news is that many of our best buy and recommended brands in the bookshops and online retailers guides have gift vouchers, and we've created an easy table for you to use to find alternatives to Amazon. 

Why avoid Amazon?

Amazon has been accused of everything from firing employees for calling out its unsafe conditions to offering services to fossil fuel giants. You can find out more about reasons to avoid the company in our '10 reasons to avoid Amazon' article.

The billion-dollar company scores a spectacular 8 out of 100 in our ratings based on its ethical and environmental record and comes at the near bottom of most tables where they feature. (See below for a full list of guides that feature Amazon).

Our boycott focuses on Amazon’s staggering tax avoidance. Our research has calculated that in 2021, Amazon’s tax avoidance may have cost up to half a billion pounds to the UK’s public purse. 

Meanwhile, Amazon’s monopolistic behaviour threatens small businesses trying to do better. Our guides below include more ethical options, so you can ensure you’re not supporting this arch tax avoider while channelling your money to more ethical companies. 

What can you do?

You can sign up to your pledge to try to avoid Amazon - we will send you regular emails with tips from others who are reducing their use of Amazon.

Also try some of the alternative companies in our shopping guides.

Watch our video to learn some top tips on how to avoid Amazon

Look up some of other guides which feature alternatives to Amazon