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Why shop ethically?

Change the world with your wallet

The way we spend our money can help to change the world.

Every time we shop we're voting with our wallet. When we buy from brands that have a positive impact it’s like voting for a better world.

By carefully choosing what we buy, and looking behind the brands, we can choose products that have a positive impact on people, the planet and animals.

For example by buying products that don’t contain palm oil you’re casting a vote to save orangutans and the Indonesian rainforest in which they live.

When you are part of a movement of people making similar positive choices we can start to have a big impact on the world around us.

Why I'm an Ethical Consumer

Issues around ethical consumption can be complex but below we outline a few examples where shopping ethically can make a real difference.

Good for the environment

We are faced with many environmental issues, from global warming to pesticide pollution, that can in part be addressed by shopping more ethically.

Image: environment

For example we can help tackle climate change by switching to a green energy provider or help reduce the amount of dangerous pesticides that are killing wildlife by buying organic products.

In our product guides we rate and rank companies on their response to a range of environmental issues including:
    • Pollution and toxics
    • Wildlife habitats
    • Climate change
    • Environmental reporting

Good for society (both local and global)

We can help create the type of society we want through buying from companies that take their commitments to our communities seriously.

Many of the products we buy have been produced by companies that pay their workers poverty wages and then stash their profits in offshore tax havens.

Image: Tea Worker

We can help tackle this by, for example shopping for products that carry the Fairtrade accreditation or the Fair Tax Mark. These, and other, independent accreditation marks can help sign post us towards companies that are doing the right thing.

In our product guides we rate and rank companies on their response to a range of societal issues including:
    • Workers rights
    • Human rights
    • Tax avoidance
    • Corporate lobbying

Good for animal welfare

Consuming ethically can help improve conditions for animals in a number of ways.

For example to sell their products overseas many cosmetics companies still test on animals, by buying from brands that refuse to test on animals you can be sure that no animals are harmed in the production of your cosmetics.  

Image: cow

In our product guides we rate and rank companies on their response a range of animal welfare issues including:
    • animal testing
    • factory farming
    • animal welfare

Good for body and soul

Buying ethically can be good for your health and well being

We also know that a healthy balanced diet is good for you and this usually means leaving behind high sugar and salt products that are often irresponsibly marketed to children or ditching cosmetics that contain parabens and other nasty ingredients.

Image: Kindling Trust

But it’s not just about leaving behind the bad guys, it's about so much more, from championing sustainable brands to reducing consumption and saving money.

There is something very satisfying about shopping ethically. It’s often difficult to define but those who shop ethically feel empowered knowing that the small changes they are making are a vote that can lead to big environmental and social impacts.

An introduction to ethical shopping

In this video we ask three key questions: What is an ethical consumer? Why be an ethical consumer? How to be an ethical consumer?

Highlights from Ethical Consumer Markets Report 2021

According to our latest report on the state of the ethical market, the total value of spending on ethical food & drink, money, travel, and personal products in 2020 increased by 27% year-on-year to £122 billion.

Overall, ethical consumer spending in the UK is growing. Our figures show that the value of ethical spending in the UK has increased by 2.4% in the past decade from £51bn in 2010.

Our report has information on the:

  • ethical food
  • home
  • travel & transport
  • finance
  • personal products, and
  • community sectors.

The 2021 report finds that ethical consumer spending and finance in the UK in 2020 broke through the £100bn mark for the first time. It also finds that all sectors have seen growth, but the most significant growth has been in eco travel and transport, and green home spending such as green electricity tariffs and energy efficient appliances.

Our research shows that the most popular product areas in the food sector were Vegetarian & Plant-based Alternatives, Free Range Eggs and Fairtrade. The rise in sales of meat-free alternatives reflects the increasing popularity of vegetarian and vegan diets in the UK.

There was also growth in fair trade which looks set to continue, with 28% of people planning to purchase fair trade in the future, compared with just 15% pre-pandemic.

Read a more detailed summary of ethical markets including how finance and personal products grew.

Download the full report for a breakdown of how different ethical consumer markets fared during the pandemic, including organic, fairtrade and more.