Ethically produced items are sourced with a number of points in mind – often a product fulfills some rather than all the requirements but at least it’s a step in the right direction. Fair trade (e.g. workers’ rights, conditions and health), animal welfare, and sustainability (e.g. organic produce, recycled components, renewable energy sources) are the major points.
Is your favourite brand a member of an ethical trade group (such as the Ethical Trading Initiative) or doing its best to operate ethically (look at the Ethical Consumer for an insight)? If not perhaps you should contact the company and ask why not?
To start you off, here are some links (in alphabetical order) to suppliers of ethically sourced products where you can shop with a clearer conscience, be it for food or other everyday items, or for gifts.
Big Green Smile – for a range of devices and organic products to help you save (water, energy, health, the environment…)
Biome Lifestyle – items for your home, with a low social and environmental footprint.
Ecotopia for everyday household and cleaning products, ethical gifts, eco-friendly gadgets, Fairtrade and organic goods. “Ecotopia assists people in leading a more natural and lower impact lifestyle. Behind every product sold at Ecotopia is a story. Not only are these stories about environment and ethical issues – they are stories about small companies that we are proud to support.”
Ethical Superstore – a wide range of household, electrical, fashion and other items, with a wide range of ethical credentials.
Fashion Conscience – seriously stylish, seriously ethical. “We only stock designs which have an ethical and eco dimension – be it recycled, organic cotton, non-toxic, fair trade, sustainable, vegan or non-exploitative.” Take a look at Fashion Conscience’s sales/offers page.
Green and Black’s for organic chocolate.
Natoora – good food direct from fastidious farmers. Includes organic and free range produce from the UK, France and Italy.
Nigel’s Eco Store – for eco-friendly products.
Oxfam Shops – be humankind. Ethical products, plus recycled (second-hand) items.
People Tree – for Fair Trade fashion
Present Aid – gifts to help others (part of Christian Aid)
Shoes – see this link for Ethical Consumer shoe industry concerns.