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Your Guide to Ethical Shopping

According to the Guardian, there’s a growing trend in the UK consumer market to purchase more ethical and ecological products. This is heartening news to us at Quinola, as ethics is part of our DNA and ecology at the heart of our organic philosophy. The Nielson study quoted by the Guardian showed that over a quarter of British shoppers said they would choose a Fairtrade or Green product over a standard one, even if it cost them more money.

That said, another study, carried out in Australia made the differentiation between intentions and plans, and then reality, when it comes to buying ethical or ecological products. This study, by the University of Tasmania, revealed that 1/3 of people who had the intention to buy ethically, didn’t follow through with it. Ethical products only make a 3% market share in Australia, and the figures are similar across Europe too. Its undeniable that buying ethically, or environmentally products is better for the world we live in, so why aren’t more of us doing it?

It comes down to three main reasons. The cost of the products, doubt as to whether purchasing them will truly make a difference and greenwashing.

It seems that standard products are less expensive than eco-friendly or ethical ones, or that’s the perception at least. A lot of the time, Fairtrade products, though they ensure better prices for their farmers, are actually cheaper than branded products in supermarkets:

Fairtrade Instant Coffee Granules = £1.53 vs Kenco Instant Coffee Granules = £2.93
Fairtrade Bananas (6 pack) = £1.28 vs Asda Organic Bananas (5 pack) = £1.28
Fairtrade Organic Hot Chocolate = £1.35 vs Cadbury’s Hot Chocolate = £2.39
Fairtrade Ben and Jerry’s Vanilla Ice Cream = £1.60 vs Ben and Jerry’s Cookie Dough Ice Cream = £1.60
Fairtrade Organic Honey = £2.21 vs Gales Blossom Honey = £2.37

Find out more about that here: http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/commentanalysis/consumerism/thepriceofethics.aspx

Price shouldn’t be a barrier for those who want to buy ethically, at least for everyday products like chocolate and coffee. The other two reasons people gave in both studies as reasons for not shopping ethically were to do with doubt as to whether buying one tin of sustainably sourced tuna would REALLY make a difference and to do with a lack of trust concerning advertising. Greenwashing is all too common nowadays, and all too advanced considering that advertising agencies are keeping a pace with new rules and continually finding loopholes to exaggerate their claims.

 

 

For those who wish to navigate ethical and environmentally friendly shopping hassle free, here’s a helpful guide of which brands are truly ethical:

Accessories

Clothing & Shoes

Food & Drink

For perishables like produce and meat, and for non-perishables as well, first try to buy locally. Check out Local Harvest for resources near you. And if you’re curious, I’ve written about both the coffee and chocolate industries.