The thought of battling through a busy high street isn’t always that appealing, particularly when you could shop from the comfort of your own home; a
Online shopping currently accounts for 17.1% of all UK retail, and despite what the headlines might lead us to believe, it isn’t all bad; particularly if you make your purchases via an ethical, internet-based, store. Ethical Consumer
Don’t worry, be happy – online shopping
Amazon currently has a 33.5% market share of all the online shopping in the UK and it’s growing. The size and scale of their online operation, alongside store closures dubbed ‘the death of the high street’, seems to have helped typecast online retailers as the villains.
But look a little closer and there doesn’t appear to be much reason to view its bad ethics as a consequence of it selling online.
Consider before you click
The market for ethical goods is growing on- and off-line. In 2016, the ethical market was valued at £81.3 billion. Ethical Consumer rated 24 websites, which offer a variety of products marketed as ethical for its latest Ethical Online Retailer Guide. The shops rated were based on feedback from readers about which ethical online stores they regularly used.
There are ethical online stores for almost everything now; some sell food, others cosmetics, and some clothing or a combination of the three. Lots of them provide products under the label ‘gifts’ making them a perfect place to pick up presents for family and friends.
There are some key considerations to keep in mind to be sure you’re ethical online shop is just that.
The researchers at Ethical Consumer probed three key areas: company ethos; supply chain management; and animal testing, to help them create their Ethiscore rating.
1. Ethical supply chains
Having clear policies about how to monitor supplier’s guarantees of workers’ rights is a key indicator in the Ethical Consumer Supply Chain Management rating. Companies such as Traidcraft, Oxfam*, Shared Earth and Amnesty did this through only sourcing ethically certified products e.g. fair trade. Others showed commitment to monitoring their suppliers against workers’ rights provisions. Nkuku, who sell homewares and lifestyle products ranging from photo frames to sofas, went further, stating that it carried out “unscheduled checks to ensure the
Ethical Shop is a treasure trove of ethical products, from everyday cleaning products, to cosmetics, gifts and food. It had the clearest ethical buying policy, which included clear definitions of workers’ rights that suppliers had to meet. It requires suppliers to report progress on implementing their code annually either by describing actions taken or completing a questionnaire.
2. Charity online
When shopping and philanthropy combine, that’s surely a win-win combination? UK charities are stalwarts of the high-street, but many of them are now also hosting impressive online shopping sites that offer far more than the second-hand clothes and books they were traditionally associated with.
Many of them now source their own-brand products, which support the aims of the charity. Oxfam* offers consumers a chance to buy products that support projects that help people trade their way out of poverty. It also sells products that have been handcrafted or made by projects that specifically benefit women. 100% of its profits raised from sales of ‘Sourced by Oxfam’ are reinvested into the charity’s projects.
3. Animal Testing
Many of the companies reviewed sold cosmetics
An example of best
Why are we still using Amazon?
So why do so many consumers still turn to the likes of Amazon? A quick poll of Ethical Consumer followers provided answers; when you’re in a hurry, need something
And tech solutions might be just the thing to help counter the Amazon monopoly in the future. Keep an eye on Near St – it’s an app that only covers London at the moment, but they have plans to expand.
For more ideas about how to make specialist online purchases for items like books and tablets, and other advice on how to shop online ethically check out the Amazon Alternatives guides at Ethical Consumer.