ethical alternatives to amazon

Ethical Alternatives to Amazon


There’s been a lot of bad press about Amazon lately, more so than ever, from their unethical tax avoidance policies to the shockingly bad robot like conditions their workers operate under, and I think people really are beginning to question where they shop.  However it’s not always easy to know where to shop, so I’ve put together a guide on online ethical alternatives to Amazon:


For eBooks try  eBooks has a vast selection of digital books ready for download for just about every range of eReader out there – from Kindles, to iPads, to Nook, Kobo, Sony Reader, Android, PC, Mac and more.

For hard copies of books Oxfam Books are a good ethical alternative to Amazon.  They have a wide selection of secondhand books online that benefit charity. Up until recently I had no idea that Oxfam sold items via their website, and I think it’s great that they’re opening up to capture bigger markets online.  GreenBook.Club is a book swapping service that’s just recently been set up and well worth a look, and Bookdonors is a great secondhand online bookshop.

If you can’t find what you’re looking for secondhand then it’s worth checking if your local independent bookseller offers online shopping.  Quite a lot do – my Edinburgh favourites that offer UK wide online shopping include Golden Hare Books, the Fruitmarket Gallery (who have great kids books and specialist art books), and Word Power.  All come very highly recommended from me.  Others, like Edinburgh Bookshop will order in any book for free for you.

Another ethical alternative to Amazon is to use Hive.  Hive is a service where you can order books online and have them delivered to your local bookstore for free for collection.  Every time you make a purchase on Hive, your local  independent shop on Hive will receive a percentage of the sale.  So even though you’re shopping online, your local bookshop will benefit too.  There is also the spin off that you might see something else that you fancy whilst in-store.  Obviously, it’s best if you can use your local bookshop as your first port of call, but it’s always a good backup option.

Don’t be swayed by the Book Depository – they are owned by Amazon – shop secondhand or shop local instead!


For digital downloads iTunes isn’t really a more ethical alternative to Amazon – Apple have a terrible reputation for human rights in China, where their factories are based.  A good alternative is 7Digital, which is fairly ethical, and all songs are DRM (digital rights management free) which means you can play them on unlimited devices.

alternatives to amazon

For physical CD’s/Vinyl 

For older releases, as an ethical alternative to Amazon then your first port of call should be one of the myriad of secondhand record stores.  Oxfam Music is a good choice, as again, proceeds go back to Oxfam.  Alternatively, if you can’t find what you’re looking for then Discogs is a good choice, with loads of sellers selling secondhand items.

For new releases, your local independent might sell online.  I’d check with them first before seeking out other alternatives.  I’d heartily recommend my local independent – Avalanche Records – who sell online.  They specialise in Scottish indie music but have a range of new releases and good stuff too.

EDIT: A reader has also suggested buying CD’s directly from the artists themselves, via their websites, to ensure they gain the highest amount of revenue on their CD sales.

If either option fails has a wide range of CD’s, vinyl and promotional materials.  If it’s something specialist that you’re after then Proper Music is a specialist online retailer concentrating on folk, blues, jazz, country, Americana and world music, however you’ll also find classical music and overstocks, deletions, imports and anything else that they think is of interest to their customers


Without wanting to sound like a broken record, Oxfam sell a vast range of DVDs and box sets.  Alternatively MovieMail or the Channel 4 Store are good fairly ethical alternatives to Amazon that are worth checking out.

Computer Games (Video and PC)

For video and PC games, again, try Oxfam (they really do sell everything!).  Alternatively, for PC games try instant download services Games Planet or Metaboli.  For console games give The Game Collection a go.  None of these options are super ethical, but are much better than using Amazon or buying from the supermarkets.

I can’t cover everything that Amazon sells, but I hope I’ve covered some of the main categories.  If you’d like me to cover any other areas then do let me know in the comments section below and I’ll dedicate a future post to your requests!

And if you’ve liked this article on ethical alternatives to Amazon then do check out my guide to ethical bank alternatives and ethical alternatives to Google.

eco-friendly gift ideas for kids babies and teens

Eco-Friendly Ethical Gifts for Babies, Kids & Teens

eco-friendly gift ideas for kids babies and teens

Can you believe that it’s Christmas in just over two weeks?  Where has the time gone?  I’ve managed to put together the last in my installment of eco-friendly or ethical gift ideas just in time!  This time it’s for the younger people in your life – from babies and toddlers, through to kids, and right through to teens.  For babies, toddlers and kids I’ve deliberately picked unisex toys as I’m personally not a fan of gender-specific toys.  I’ve also kept my picks to no more than £35, and as always EF denotes eco-friendly and FT denotes fair-trade.

Babies And Toddlers

eco friendly ethical gift ideas for babies and toddlers

1.  Octopus Rattle (£4.25) (FT) no longer available but this is similar – fun for small hands

2.  Play Camera (£15) (EF, FT) – perfect for stimulating the imagination

3.  Wooden Shape Sorter Bus (£18.98) (EF, FT) – a fun, brightly coloured bus

4.  Felt Slippers (£24.95) (FT) – the cutest slippers ever (also available in different animal designs AND adult sizes!)

5.  Toy Drum (£17.99) (EF, FT) – a great gift for other people’s kids!

6.  Bunny Ears Egg Cup (£18) (EF, FT) – an heirloom piece.



eco friendly ethical gifts for kids

1.  Wooden Toy Spaghetti Set (£11.88) (EF, FT) – for budding chefs!

2.  Wooden Till (£20.99) (EF, FT)- I can remember playing “shops” for hours on end – great for numeracy skills too.

3.  Wooden Railway Set (£25.99) (EF, FT)- I’m hard pressed to think of any little kids not obsessed with trains!

4.  Wooden Build-A-Robot Toy (£19.99) (EF, FT)- my daughter calls them “bobots”.  This looks like a lot of fun for little ones!

5.  Toy Fire Engine (£35) (EF, FT) – from Traidcraft – sturdy and sure to withstand anything a kid could throw at it!

6.  Toy Banjo (£22.98) (EF, FT) – long lasting, durable and fun!



eco-friendly ethical gifts for teens

1.  Woodbuds headphones (£25) (EF) – these headphones, made by Yorkshire based Woodbuds, are made from FSC certified sustainable plantation hardwood, and bio-plastic cabling; 100% of their packaging is made from recyclable material; and a tree is planted for every 100 products they sell.

2.  Makeup Bag (£18) (FT) – I don’t know a teenage girl out there that wouldn’t love this!

3.  Plectrum Maker (£22) (EF) – make guitar plectrums out of old plastic

4.  Fair Share Music Voucher (from £5) – Fair Share music works like iTunes, where you pay to download tracks and albums by bands.  But unlike iTunes, Fair Share Music donates half of the profit from each download to a charity of your choice, including Friends of the Earth, Oxfam, the WWF, Amnesty International, the Teenage Cancer Trust and more.

5.  Cardboard Pinhole Camera Kit (£35) (EF, FT) –  Got a budding David Bailey on your hands?  They’ll love a cardboard pinhole camera kit, that’s designed and manufactured in the UK  from recyclable and sustainable products where possible.  Even the spare spool that comes with the camera has been reclaimed from darkrooms around London!

6.  Annie Greenabelle Voucher (from £1) (FT) – an ethical fashion online shop that’ young and fresh, and doesn’t charge sky-high prices.

7.  Woollen Hat (£17) (FT) – handmade in the UK.