This guide was created as part of our ‘alternatives to Amazon’ series, to help you find other online retailers, not guilty of the same misdeeds.
Amazon’s massive tax avoidance is the key reason for our Amazon boycott, but it is also widely criticised for workers’ rights issues, as well as the domination of the market which leads to the closure of other businesses, and manipulation of customers through data collection. For some of the latest criticisms, see our updates on Black Lives Matter, and our feature on Amazon's poor response to the pandemic.
The problem with avoiding Amazon is that with over 1.7 million third-party sellers listing 250 million products on Amazon Marketplaces worldwide, it’s not just another online retailer. And of course, Amazon has been doing very well out of the recent rush towards home delivery. However, if you can tear yourself away from its one-stop-shop personalised honey-trap, most of what you need can, and really should, be found somewhere else. At a time when public services around the world are under such strain, it is ethically absurd to think that corporates can still avoid paying a fair rate of tax.
The good news is there are alternatives out there, which, as well as simply not being Amazon, also deliberately offer a more ethical selection of products, or even fund campaigning through their sales.
Brands in this guide are generally retailers rather than manufacturers, so offer a range of more ethical brands of staple food, body care and household products, as well as clothes, books, stationery, furniture, gifts and jewellery.
What’s in this guide?
This update includes a new entry, Social Supermarket, which aims to become “the most comprehensive marketplace for social enterprise products in the UK”. We’ve also added in one of our old favourites for office supplies, the Green Stationery Company, and two online retailers which we regularly recommend for readers who don’t have a local wholefood shop, Planet Organic and Big Green Smile.
The Animal Aid shop is temporarily missing, as it was closed due to the pandemic, likewise the Centre for Alternative Technology. Oxfam was almost left out too, as it works by collating listings of donations from its high-street shops, which were all closed. Having reopened online, you can once again browse its eclectic selection of second-hand clothes, shoes, books, music and bric-a-brac, as well as the fair trade ‘Sourced by Oxfam’ range.
The push to online shopping
Online shopping was already a growing trend, which coronavirus has accelerated. Various surveys have found large percentages of people saying their new habits are likely to continue.