No company can be perfect. But everyone has to get their electricity, clothes, soap and other essentials from somewhere. So u75 contributor Kea suggests you check this lot out.
We can't guarantee they're perfect – but they're a damn sight better than most of the alternatives. And if there's a big enough demand for ethical companies, then some of the real nasties might start to listen up.
THE CO-OPERATIVE BANK
It's been in existence since 1872, but launched its official ethical stance in 1992. The policy dictates the bank's investments and choice of partners and suppliers, and looks at ecological impact, human rights, the arms trade, corporate responsibility and global trade, genetic modification, social enterprise and animal welfare.
The bank consults its customers about the policy's implementation on an ongoing basis, with a complete annual review to keep it up-to-date. For more info, check out www.co-operativebank.co.uk
All of unit[e]'s electricity comes from renewable sources – wind, hydro, solar and wave. Its sources are small-scale hydropower and wind farms across the UK, many of which are open to the public – details are available on their website at www.unit-e.co.uk. Unit[e] is accredited by Future Energy, a scheme run by the Energy Savings Trust which verifies companies' claims concerning the amount of renewable electricity bought and sold by suppliers. Unit[e] has no interests in non-renewable technologies.
Lush products are all fresh and handmade using fresh fruit and vegetables, essential oils and safe synthetics, without animal ingredients. All their labels include an ingredients list which specifies the quantities of each ingredient. They use few preservatives and each product has a clearly-marked sell-by date and a note saying which employee made it. Lush buys only from companies that test for safety without the involvement of animals and they test all their products only on humans. Check them out at www.lush.co.uk
ECOVER CLEANING PRODUCTS
All of Ecover's products are based on renewable plant ingredients (herbs, coconuts, sugar cane, lemons, volatile oils, etc). The ingredients are beneficial because they are inexhaustible, quickly and completely biodegradable, less toxic for people, animals and the environment and it takes little energy to produce them.
Ecover does not spend millions on advertising campaigns, instead choosing to invest in research.
Because of their lack of harmful ingredients Ecover products are gentle on the skin. And they are formulated without animal testing and approved by animal rights campaigners PETA. You can find out more about cleaning products' ingredients and impact at www.ecover.com
Fairtrade goods must be produced in accordance with specified standards including the payment of at least the minimum wage, good housing, union rights, health and safety standards, no child or forced labour, and the incorporation of environmental sustainability plans.
The price of Fairtrade goods covers production costs and includes a "social premium" to improve living and working conditions.
Fairtrade companies must set up contracts with producers which allow the growers to form long-term business plans, and they must make a partial payment in advance to cover small producers' costs. Every Fairtrade product carries a clearly identifiable logo, so accept no substitutes!
More on Fairtrade products at www.fairtrade.org.uk
SMALLER COMPANIES WE'D ALSO LIKE TO NAMECHECK
Triodos Bank www.vegetarian-shoes.co.uk – funky ethical footwear www.ethicalwares.com – shoes and accessories
More about ethical shopping:
» Also check out The Boycott Ten for companies to avoid!
Have you any recommendations?
Tell us about any ethical companies that we've missed out or discuss the issues on the bulletin boards
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