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How to shop ethically

With a few small steps it’s easy to start your journey to become an Ethical Consumer and shop ethically and sustainably.

Here we list 10 easy to do things that can have a big impact.

1) Buy the most ethical

Our guides help make ethical shopping easy and save you time researching company ethics. Our ratings tables and Best Buy advice help you support ethical brands and vote for positive change every time you spend.

Discover how to use our website and our shopping guides.

There are over 100 live guides on our site, here are 4 of our most popular:

2) Less is more

Do you really need that new pair of shoes? Is it really necessary to upgrade your smartphone again? Is there a better low-consumption alternative?

Reducing consumption can help save money and the planet. It’s something that most of us can do and it doesn’t cost a penny. Whether its energy saving tips or making your own cosmetics our guides provide advice to keep spending and your ecological footprint to a minimum.

3) Get creative before you recycle

Throwing away is so passé. Fixing, up-cycling and reusing is what all the cool kids are doing.

There is often lots that can be done with old gear before you send it for recycling (or worse still to the dreaded landfill). Whether its learning how to fix your mobile phone or creating fun fashion from an old pair of jeans thousands of people around the world are starting projects to help people make the most out of what they already have.

4) Shop pre-loved

From flea-markets to charity shops buying second hand products is another great way to help the environment and save money.

You can buy most things second hand and we always try and point people towards places to buy second hand products in our guides when it’s the ethical option in that market.

5) Help re-invigorate your local community

You can often find unique and interesting products by shopping with local, independent retailers.

But perhaps more importantly independent businesses are more likely to have localised supply chains. This can help create virtuous monetary circles as they buy what they need, such as printing or accountant services from other local businesses. This keeps more money in local communities and stops it flowing out to the shareholders of big high-street brands or to e-commerce companies based in tax havens.

6) Shop for democracy with co-operatives

Probably the most progressive business types we have in the UK are co-operatives.

Co-operatives usually have a good internal democracy, meaning that the workers and / or others involved in the company get a say in what goes on. Co-ops often put real decision making in the hands of ordinary people, making them very different to big corporations that often take decisions in boardrooms overseas. Other models to look out for are B-corps and social enterprises.

7) Look for trusted labels

There are a host of ethical labels, but some are more trustworthy and rigorous than others.

We always try and point people towards the strongest labels that offer real protection to workers, animals and the environment in each market. In our product guides we award extra points to companies who are independently certified:

    • Organic (by the Soil Association)

    • Vegan (by the Vegan Society)

    • Fairtrade (by the Fairtrade Foundation)

    • Cruelty Free (by Cruelty Free International)

8) Boycott the bad guys

A great way to shop ethically is to boycott those companies that aren’t behaving responsibly and maybe join a boycott campaign.

Our unique boycotts list provides a comprehensive directory of progressive boycotts from all over the world. The list covers everything from Nestle to the companies working with Donald Trump.

9) Get active and challenge corporate power

For us ethical consumption is more than just about what you buy, its about being an active citizen.

In addition to helping you vote with your wallet we also like to promote, take part in and organise other types of campaigns. Check out some of our campaigns and those that we are involved with:

10) Take back control of your money

Where our money goes is what it’s all about, so banking, savings and investments play an important part in consuming ethically.

The money that we leave in our bank accounts doesn’t just sit there doing nothing. Banks use this money to invest. Unethical banks often invest in unethical projects such as nuclear weapons manufacture or fracking. By banking with ethical institutions you can be more sure that your money is going to fund projects that benefit society.