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Five unethical companies

Listed below are five of the lowest ranking companies across our product guides. 

All these companies score poorly across our rating system for failing to address issues including human rights, animal rights and environmental concerns. 


Ethical score: 8/100

Company type: online retailer

image:worker at amazon in factory botcott amazon

Why avoid them:  

Amazon never seem to be out of the spotlight for one reason or another. Whether it be tax avoidance (for which they are under a boycott call from us) or the treatment of workers at their fulfilment centres.

They score badly in our rating system for all the policies we rate them on, including environmental reporting, conflict mineral use and supply chain management.

Amazon feature in a number of our product guides including bookshops, delivery companies and streaming services. We also have a guide on ethical online shopping with many recommended alternatives.

Best Buy alternatives for books:

  • World of Books
  • Oxfam books (for second hand)

Best Buy alternatives for online shopping:

  • Ethical Shop
  • Shared Earth
  • Veo
  • Oxfam
  • Wearth
  • Traidcraft
  • Green Stationery

As part of our long-running boycott call against Amazon, we have created an Amazon Free August pledge - sign up to pledge to try to avoid Amazon for a whole month, and receive weekly tips from other people and ideas for alternatives.

Already boycott Amazon? Great! Please share the pledge campaign with others.


Ethical Score: 6/100

Company type: Supermarket

Image: Asda

Why avoid them:

ASDA (now owned by the Issa brothers and private equity company TDR Capital, although Walmart still has an equity investment in Asda) is a retail colossus. It has monumentally failed to embed corporate responsibility into its operations and supply chains around the globe. This has lead to workers' rights abuses at supplier factories, accusations of discrimination by staff, and a host of other charges.

The Issa brothers and TDR Capital  have a history of troublesome tax conduct, and both score our worst rating for Tax Conduct. And TDR Capital and the Issa brothers own EG Group, a giant forecourt business which retails BP, Esso and Shell fuel.

Asda features in a number of product guides including supermarkets.

Best Buy supermarket alternatives:

  • Riverford organic box scheme
  • HISBE Brighton
  • Suma wholesaler
  • Christines (Bradford on Avon)

Recommended alternatives for supermarkets

  • Co-op
  • Waitrose


Ethical Score: 0/100

Company type: Food processor

Image: Nestlé water protest California

Why avoid them:

Nestle is subject to the world's longest running boycott for the irresponsible marketing of baby milk to mothers in the developing world. The company has also been criticised for a number of other businesses practices including the use of unsustainable palm oil and genetically modified ingredients in its foods.

Nestlé feature in a number of product guides including chocolate.

Best Buy alternatives for chocolate:

  • Pacari
  • Beyond Good
  • Mia
  • Fairafric
  • Chocolat Madagascar
  • Divine

We feature alternatives to Nestlé in many of our other guides, as it owns so many brands, including:

Watch our short video for an introduction to boycotts of Nestle.


Ethical Score: 20/100

Company type: Supermarket

Image: Tesco

Why avoid them:

From its run-in with the Serious Fraud office to the squeeze it puts on suppliers, Tesco has long had questionable ethics. The company has begun to take some sustainability issues seriously with some positive policies on supply chain management and timber sourcing. However, according to Greenpeace, in 2021 it was still buying chicken and pork from Brazilian-owned companies Moy Park and Pilgrim’s Pride. These are UK subsidiaries of the Brazilian meat giant JBS, a company notorious for its role in forest destruction.

Tesco continues to have one of the lowest scorers on our database.

Tesco features in a number of our ethical guides including supermarkets

Best Buy Alternatives:

  • Riverford organic box scheme
  • HISBE Brighton
  • Suma wholesaler
  • Christines (Bradford on Avon)

Recommended alternatives for supermarkets

  • Co-op
  • Waitrose

Coca Cola

Ethical Score: 3/100

Company type: Drinks manufacturer

Image: Coca cola

Why avoid them:

Coca Cola has had a long history of workers' rights violations at its bottling plants. It is currently under two boycott calls linked to this issue at its plants in Colombia. It has also had a poor record on the environment being accused of taking water supplies from rural communities and falsifying environmental data.

Coca Cola feature in our product guide to soft drinks.

Best Buy alternatives for soft drinks:

  • Gusto
  • Karma
  • Pip Organic
  • LemonAid
  • Scheckters
  • ChariTea
  • Calyx
  • Belvoir Organic
  • Luscombe

What makes a company ethical - video

In contrast to the above companies and behaviour, watch our short video to find out what makes a company ethical - we give you five things to look for in a company.

The results of our readers poll for the least ethical companies

As part of our 25th Birthday celebrations Ethical Consumer asked its readers to vote for who they thought was the least ethical company over the last 25 years.

Nestlé 'won' with 15% of the vote, finishing just above Monsanto (14%) and the UK's number one tax avoider Amazon (12%).

Nestlé is currently subject to the longest ever running consumer boycott. For over 20 years Baby Milk Action has called a boycott of the company for its irresponsible marketing of baby milk formula, which infringes the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes.

In recent years the company has also been criticised for its use of child labour and palm oil, and for not labelling GM ingredients.

This is a really interesting result. It shows that people still feel strongly about Nestlé even after so many years and despite it trying to greenwash its image by using Fairtrade chocolate in some of its products.

The top ten least ethical companies as voted for by Ethical Consumer readers were:

How to shop ethically?

If you currently buy things from the above brands, don't worry, we've plenty of tips and advice on how to switch to more ethical alternatives.

Visit our page on how to shop ethically to take the first steps on your ethical shopping journey.

How to shop ethically