20 simple changes Ethical shopping
This article, 20 simple changes, was last updated on 19 March 2008 and is now out of date and held in our online archive for reference. Explore our latest Home & garden articles.
Avoid excess packaging
When you go shopping, reduce the amount of plastic packaging going to landfill by avoiding unnecessary or overly-packaged goods.
- Don't buy products you think are excessively or deceptively packaged – complain to your supermarket or the manufacturer and contact your local trading standards department.
- To find out what packaging materials can be recycled in your area, ask your local council or visit the Recycle More or Recycle Now websites. You can then take the advice into consideration when shopping.
- Look closely at the weight of packets when you're shopping and don't assume larger packs contain more.
Choose Fairtrade and ethically-produced brands
The Fairtrade Foundation is just one of a number of brands stocked in UK shops that aim to give third world farmers a better deal on the goods they produce.
By paying a bit more for ethically-produced food and household items, you could help ensure the future of workers in developing nations whilst sending a clear message to companies who don’t act so ethically.
To make a significant difference, include ethical products in your shopping regularly, because farmers need support all year round.
Western consumers have enormous power to shape the global economy – how we exercise that power is really up to us as individuals.
Read our report for more details on ethical shopping.
Which? has even sent some old magazines over to Kenya to be converted into recycled bead jewellery.
Reduce plastic bag use
Campaign group Recycle Now estimates a staggering 150,000,000 plastic bags are used in the UK every week, and each one can take hundreds of years to rot away in a landfill site.
It’s easy to cut down how many plastic bags you throw away. Reuse plastic bags when you shop and use a canvas shopping bag whenever you can. Unlike plastic bags, they won't split or dig into your hands when you’re loaded with shopping.
Many supermarkets offer customers shopping bags for life. These harder-wearing shopping bags last longer – and supermarkets will replace worn-out ones.
Buy recycled products and packaging
Buying recycled products and packaging in your shopping completes the recycling loop and increases demand for recycled material.
Many supermarkets and other shops now supply more and more recycled products including everything from toilet roll to jewellery. You can find thousands of recycled products on the Recycled Products website.