Online Ethical Alternatives to Amazon

ethical alternatives to amazon

Are you after some online 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:

Online Ethical Alternatives to Amazon



For eBooks try  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.

Hard Copies

For hard copies of books, Oxfam Books* are a good ethical online 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. 

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 kid’s books and specialist art books), and Word Power.  All come very highly recommended by me.  Others, like Edinburgh Bookshop, will order any book for free for you.

Another online 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!

Online Ethical Alternatives to Amazon for Music

Digital Downloads

For digital downloads, iTunes isn’t really a more ethical online alternative to Amazon.  Apple has a terrible reputation for human rights in China, where their factories are based.  Instead, a good ethical alternative to Amazon is 7Digital.  A big plus is that 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 

Older Releases

For older releases, as an ethical alternative to Amazon then your first port of call should be one of the myriad 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.

New Releases

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 – which sells 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 CDs 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 has a wide range of CDs, vinyl, and promotional materials online, and is more ethical than Amazon.  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 of 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!

And if you’ve liked this article on online ethical alternatives to Amazon then do check out my guide to ethical bank alternatives and ethical alternatives to Google. I’ve also got a useful guide to eco-friendly alternatives to Amazon that you might find useful!

Life & Style, Special Occasions

Eco-Friendly Ethical Gifts for Babies, Kids & Teens

eco-friendly gift ideas for kids babies and teens

Struggling to buy eco-friendly or ethical gifts for babies, kids and teens? Try my guide to ethical gifts for every age.

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 gifts and 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 ethical gifts that are unisex 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.

Ethical Gifts for 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 Gifts for Kids

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!

Ethical Gifts for Teenagers

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.

More eco-friendly gift ideas this way!