Are you after some ethical alternatives to Amazon? I don’t blame you – there’s been a lot of bad press about Amazon lately. From their unethical tax avoidance policies to the shockingly bad robot like conditions their workers operate under,
it’s not always easy to know where to shop, so I’ve put together a guide on online ethical alternatives to Amazon to help you out:
Ethical Alternatives to Amazon
For eBooks try eBooks.com. eBooks have a vast selection of digital books ready for download for just about every type 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. I think it’s great that they’re opening up to capture bigger markets online.
Bookdonors is also a great secondhand online bookshop. This not for profit social enterprise trade in used books for the benefit of people, charities and the environment.
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 by 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. Alternatively, you can have your books delivered to your home. You can choose to donate a percentage of the sale price to your local independent book shop so they don’t lose out.
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. A big plus is that all songs are DRM (digital rights management-free) which means you can play them on unlimited devices.
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 online shopping resource, 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. This ensures they gain the highest amount of revenue on their CD sales.
If either option fails Recordstore.co.uk 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 good place to check out. This specialist online retailer concentrates 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* sells a vast range of DVDs, Blue Rays, and box sets if having a physical disc is important to you. If you’re more a streaming person, then Ethical Consumer has put together a handy guide on the most ethical streaming services.
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. For console games give The Game Collection a go. Neither of these options is 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. I’ll try and dedicate a future post to your requests!