Shopping for the Good of the World – Ethical Retail

Wouldn’t it be great if you could tell hubby that you’re shopping to make the world a better place? Well, you can if you buy from ethical retailers.

Ethical shopping doesn’t have to mean wearing veggie shoes teamed with untailored hemp clothing. Ethical shopping means choosing to buy from retailers that use ethical practices.

Do they:

  • give their employees a fair wage?
  • buy from manufacturers that give their employees a fair wage (don’t give me any of that “we didn’t know” business)?
  • stay far, far away from using child labour?
  • refrain from animal testing?
  • use methods of manufacturing and waste disposal that are safe for both humans and the environment?
  • have an environmental or recycling policy?
  • use readily available and easily renewable materials?

An oft cited example of an ethical retailer is BodyShop. They have milked their green, animal loving, fair trade credentials for all they’re worth and rightly so. People are generally willing to pay a bit extra in order to feel good about what they buy (the lovely smells coming from the shops don’t hurt either).

Today there are quite a few designers, boutiques and fashion retailers that claim to have green credentials. You can now buy earth loving shoes, chic leather alternative jackets, organic jeans, and handbags made from recycled outdoor advertising. And no, they’re not ugly. They are in fact truly trendy, highly desirable and just a little bit expensive. Check out Fashion.net Green Sites for a list of eco-friendly, cruelty-free, socially-conscious designers and stores.

Or try a novel idea, buy from charity shops. You’re not poor, you’re being ethical, you’re recycling and the money you spend goes to help a good cause. And when you’re done with it, donate it back to the charity shop to complete the recycling loop.

Oxfam charity shops are a good place to start. They are one of the largest supporters of fair trade and their shops stock not only donated clothing which, if sold, pays for their regeneration work in the poorest areas of the world, but also fair trade coffee, cooking sauces, jams and stationary products produced by the very people that the donated clothing funds went to help.

Another idea is to buy from small fair trade traders in the UK and overseas. These companies often have websites or sell their products on ethical shopping portals or sometimes even on online auctions.

You can find fair trade etailers and shops listed on: FairTrade.org, Fair Trade Federation and the Global Exchange – Socially Conscious Gifts.

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