Ethical consumerism – how to vote with your money

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good-shopping-guide-tenth-edition-anniversary-ethicalConfused about greenwashing or unsure which companies you can trust?

Do you want to make ethical choices when you buy products and services, but don’t know how to find what you are looking for?

It can be a bit of a minefield can’t it? From washing powder to trainers to the best bank to invest your money in, every product and service we buy comes with a carbon footprint and some ‘behind the scenes’ ethics to consider such as human rights or animal exploitation.

Fortunately there are three resources to help you make an empowered choice:


Gooshing is a free ethical shopping tool which makes it easy to find brands from the most responsible companies.

Not only will you discover which companies are the best in terms of human rights, animal welfare and the environment, but their built in price search finds you the lowest prices available on 250,000 products from over 350 shops.

The website is a bit basic; for example I said I was looking for ‘eggs’ and it came up with lots of computer games and a few fridge freezers but when I went onto the ‘food and drink’ section I found a handy list of local egg suppliers. Gooshing recommend that you use local suppliers where possible but also give a list of the ‘top four’ supermarkets should you need to use them.

I then searched for ‘ipad’ and did not get any matches. Oh dear…

So then I tried ‘blackberry’ and found that only 1 out of 7 had a review, all the others were ‘research pending’…

Ethical Consumer

Ethical consumer is a fantastic magazine; it’s a bit like ‘Which?’ for ethics.

The site includes consumer boycotts and buying guides along with helpful information like this one on products without palm oil but you’ll need to subscribe (£29.95 per year) to the magazine to get full benefits and in-depth articles.

Ethical consumer’s primary goal is making global businesses more sustainable through consumer pressure. They rate products and services on the following criteria:

Animal Rights
Human Rights

If you’re not sure whether or not it’s for you, you can try a 4 week trial subscription to test the water.

Good Shopping Guide

The tenth ‘Good shopping guide’ is now available for £14.95.

The guide is a reference book for people who want to unravel the complex issues surrounding ‘ethical shopping’.

Split into 7 main sections of Food & Drink, Health & Beauty, Travel, Energy, Fashion, Home & Office and Money, the guide ranks over 700 brands by their Ethical Company Index (ECI) score.

For each product and service rated, you’ll find summary table of the good, the bad and the ugly plus an in-depth table showing each company’s involvement (or not) in the following areas:

Environmental reporting
Genetic modification
Membership of ethical schemes
Nuclear power
Animal welfare
Human rights
Political donations
Boycott calls

What about you – what criteria do you use when making a purchase to ensure the ethics are in place?


  1. nadine sellers on September 19, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    the “Good shopping guide” seems to include all the criteria which concern me most; but does it represent the US market? here i see mostly UK outlets. have you found any worldwide sources for consumer information?

  2. [email protected] eco friendly homemaking on September 19, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    Oh what great resources and how wonderful of you to share them. I always get such a wonderful education when I read your posts!! Thanks!

  3. Zoie @ TouchstoneZ on September 19, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    Great resources to add to the ones I’ve found. Through blogs like yours, I have a folder of bookmarked websites to research before I purchase. I use wikipedia and ewg, among others, to research parent companies. I accidentally purchased product from a Nestle-owned company and learned my lesson

  4. Mrs Green on September 27, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    @nadine sellers: Hi Nadine, I have put your question to the publishers and will get back to you with any news. Thanks for the great question 🙂

    @[email protected] eco friendly homemaking: Thanks Alicia, glad you found it helpful

    @Zoie @ TouchstoneZ: Ahhh, the parent companies thing is really difficult to decipher. Glad you’ve add some of these resources to your bookmarks!

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