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.

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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.  

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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.

Highlights from Ethical Consumer Markets Report 2020

We calculated the market of ethical consumer spending in the UK at £45,776 in 2010. This grew to £86,975m in 2018 and £98,155m in 2019. That’s an increase of around 13% in just one year.

By the end of 2019, ethical consumer spending and finance in the UK reached record levels at £98bn.

People spent around £3.4bn in local shops during 2019, and as people continue to stay close to home, this figure is set to increase significantly in the future. Research has indicated that 60% of consumers have said that post-pandemic they expect to buy from local shops (compared to 40% shopping locally pre-Covid), giving a promising indication to independent retailers outside of major towns and cities for 2021 and beyond.

During the pandemic people also reduced energy consumption and cycled more. Fairtrade and organic produce out-performed the market and look set to continue to benefit post-pandemic.

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