How you can make more ethical purchases

We’ve probably all done it. It’s just too easy. But if we really want to change how we behave for the greater good when it comes to our purchasing decisions, it’s time to frown on a certain smiley online retailer.

I’m indebted to the brilliant people at Ethical Consumer Magazine www.ethicalconsumer.org for their latest issue: The A-Z of Avoiding Amazon.

To quote, here are a few nuggets that (ought to) stick in the throat:

  • “Globally, the tax avoidance of Amazon and other companies costs US$245 billion a year.” Think how much social care and healthcare we could finance with a sliver of this avoided tax.
  • “During the first lockdown in the UK, 35% of all purchases online were through the company.” Isn’t that called a monopoly? Has anyone informed the Office of Fair Trading?
  • “…the company has in many instances refused to respect their basic rights [of workers].” No one likes a bully.

All stuff that you’re probably familiar with, but did you know (cos I didn’t until I just read it!) that Amazon destroys unsold stock because it is cheaper than storing it. “In April 2021… Amazon Dumfermline warehouse [destroyed] over 124,000 items of unsold stock…”

But what’s the alternative?

There are plenty! Here are a handful of Ethical Consumer’s best buys:

  • World of Books (B Certified Corp) www.worldofbooks.com/en-gb. Reseller of second-hand books, focusing on keeping books out of landfill. Unsellable books are recycled. Part of AuthorSHARE, a scheme that pays authors royalties on used book sales.
  • The Green Stationery Company www.greenstat.co.uk. The UK’s original recycled paper and green office supplier. Selects products that are environmentally benign or have environmental advantages over the standard stationery equivalents.
  • Veo www.veo.world. Veo is an award-winning immersive lifestyle shopping platform, offering unique independent sustainable brands in fashion, beauty, food and home.
  • Shared Earth www.sharedearth.co.uk. Fashion, home & garden, cards & stationery, fragrance and lifestyle products. Shared Earth is a leading retailer of ethical products.
  • Ethical Shop www.ethicalshop.org. A wide range of ethically sourced products.
  • Electrofarm www.electrofarm.co.uk. Electrofarm is the UK’s first national company to re-sell used electrical equipment back into the UK market. All the electrical equipment is thoroughly checked to make sure it is up to market standard before it is sold on.

So you might not get it delivered tomorrow, or even get it cut-price, but by supporting these and similar companies for your next purchases, at least you know that you’re helping people who, in my opinion, are trying to do the right thing.

Finally, at over $190 billion at the last count, just how rich does one person need to be?

Visit this site to get that in perspective: mkorostoff.github.io/1-pixel-wealth/

Andy Barker is a graphic designer and brand specialist who runs The Ethical Branding Co. in Reading www.theethicalbrandingco.co.uk.

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