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Top 10 boycotts

Boycotts are a popular form of consumer action, with people able to use their wallet to avoid specific brands and companies, or to avoid particular ingredients, products or countries.

We recently asked our readers who or what they were boycotting. Here are the results. 

Over 1,000 people responded to our survey in March 2024 asking what they were boycotting. It confirmed what we already suspected: many people are using their consumer power to make a statement against unethical corporate activities.

Even more of our readers are partaking in boycotts since we last surveyed three years ago, with many thinking about ways to avoid Amazon, unsustainable palm oil, and join boycotts calling for Palestinian human rights

Here's a list of the top 10 companies, countries or products that our readers are currently boycotting.

1. Amazon

Just over 75% of respondents are joining us in our boycott of Amazon.

We’ve been boycotting Amazon over their large scale tax avoidance since 2012.

Our research found that in 2021, up to half a billion pounds (£500,000,000) could have been lost to the UK public purse from the corporation tax avoidance of Amazon alone. That would pay for a lot of public services.

There are also many other reasons to boycott Amazon such as workers' rights and environmental issues. 

Find out more and join the campaign:

2. Nestlé

Over a third of people who responded have joined the world’s longest running boycott.

Baby Milk action first called a boycott of Nestlé in 1977, and since then the global boycott campaign has targeted the company over the aggressive sale and marketing of formula to new mothers.

It's also a target over water rights, is named as one of the top plastic polluters in the world, and has a poor approach to cocoa sourcing.

image: introduction BDS Movement protest
Image from BDS Movement

3. The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement

Over a third of respondents said they support the Palestinian call for a boycott of companies that support the Israeli state's oppression of Palestinian people.

The Palestinian BDS movement calls for the international community to put non-violent pressure on Israel until it complies with international human rights laws, such as the Geneva Convention. We view the Palestinian BDS movement as a way for civil society to hold Israel to account for its internationally condemned human rights violations.

Our article on alternatives to brands boycotted for their links to Israeli apartheid highlights more ethical brands you can buy from instead.

4. Meat, dairy and and animal-tested produce

More people said they avoiding or boycotting animal produce compared to our last survey three years ago.

We imagine that the number of people who are vegetarian or vegan is likely higher and could have been further up in this list, but avoiding animal products often isn't thought of as a boycott (even though in many ways it operates like one).

Avoiding meat, dairy and other animal produce can be for the climate as well as animal welfare issues. 

We have several shopping guides to animal free alternatives such as vegan milk, cheese, and burgers.

Many people also avoid products testing on animals and make an effort to buy from certified animal-testing free brands. 

image: deforestation caused by palm oil indonesia bad industry
Image credit: Greenpeace

5. Palm oil

About 10% of people said they are boycotting products containing this controversial ingredient.

Consumers increasingly want to avoid palm oil where possible, or only use the most sustainable variety, but it's a tricky task as it's used in so many products – including more than 50% of packaged supermarket products from margarine and oven chips to soaps and detergents.

We have advice on companies and brands to avoid, how to go palm-oil-free with certain products, whether there are sustainable alternatives, and whether we as consumers should boycott palm oil. Go to our page on palm oil to find out more.

6. Coca-Cola

Just over 10% of respondents said they are boycotting the infamous soft drinks company.

The #NotInMyFridge campaign by Friends of Al Aqsa (FOA) calls for a boycott of Coca-Cola because it profits from the Israeli occupation of Palestine. It states, “Coca-Cola's violates international law by operating in Atarot illegal Israeli settlement.”

Plastic pollution, union-busting and lobbying are just some of the many other reasons why people chose to boycott Coke.

7. Starbucks

Just over 10% of respondents said they are boycotting Starbucks. This was a new entry compared to three years ago.

The Lakota People's Law Project Action Center is calling for a boycott of Starbucks due to its relationship with Nestlé.

Some respondents also mentioned tax reasons and how it faced media criticism for pressuring a union to remove a social media post supporting Palestine.

If you're looking for alternatives, as well as supporting your local independent cafe, we have a guide to chain coffee shops.

8. Plastics

Plastics (including single use and packaging) were mentioned by 10% of respondents.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is now estimated to be three times the size of France, with 46% of it composed of discarded nets and other kinds of fishing gear.

Aside from the environment, plastic could be affecting the health of humans and other animals. The WWF found that the average person ingests the equivalent of a credit card of plastic every week.

9. Supermarkets

Some individual supermarkets received lots of votes, such as Asda and Tesco, alongside people saying they boycotted all big supermarkets. 

Even though the supermarket model is probably a broken system when it comes to ethical consumption, avoiding them completely can be too impractical for many of us, so our supermarket guide explores the issues and helps you find one that is slightly more ethical than others. 

Photo of back of woman carrying shopping bags

10. Fast fashion

This is another new entry for 2024, with just under 10% of respondents saying they were boycotting fast fashion. This figure is higher if individual brands that were nominated are added in like Shein, Boohoo and Primark. 

Fast fashion is bad for workers and the environment. Our article about what's wrong with fast fashion outlines some of the major problems. 

For alternatives, our ethical clothing guide reviews companies which are doing things differently in terms of sustainability, workers' rights, supply chains, fabrics, and environmental impact. 

Extra mentions

There were many other companies mentioned by readers as targets for their own boycotting. These included:

Other themes mentioned include media companies, GM foods, products or brands that are not organic or fair trade, flying, whole countries such as China, companies who don't pay fair tax, and big tech companies like Google and Microsoft

Positive spending

Some people also made the distinction between not spending with a company (boycott) and pro-actively spending in a positive way:

"I try to shop ethically, so rather than a long list of brands I boycott, I have a short list of trusted suppliers that includes my local whole foods shop, SUMA, Riverford, local independent cafes, etc. I try to buy clothes etc second hand (from charity shops) but when I need new items, choose B Corps (eg Alpkit) or others than can demonstrate ethical practices. I do use to Ethical Consumer to keep me up to date on wider ethical issues and to help inform where I shop."  

And other person said:

"As much as possible I try to buy ethical, environmentally friendly products. this means I am boycotting most companies as much as possible because they are not ethical or environmentally friendly. It's not really a question of who do you avoid because it is mostly everyone. It's more about who is okay to use." 

Other people said similar, such as this quote:

"Everything we buy is a vote for the kind of planet we want to live on."

Video about consumer boycotts

We have a series of other boycott videos on our YouTube channel