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Consumers spending more on ‘ethical’ goods

Sales of greener products defy the credit crunch

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Consumer spending on ethical goods and services has almost tripled over the past 10 years according to the Co-operative Bank’s Ethical Consumerism report, published today.

The Co-operative (Co-op) bank analysed ethical sales data for sectors including food, household goods, eco-travel and ethical finance. 

The report shows that the ethical market in the UK was worth £36bn in 2008 compared to £13.5bn in 1999 – but still made up only a small percentage of the £891bn spent by households last year. 

An ‘ethical’ product was defined by the Co-op as one which is ‘environmentally friendly, sustainable or support[s] poor people’

Greener and energy efficient products

According to the Co-op, sales of energy efficient, ‘greener’ household products – which includes boilers, rechargeable batteries and energy-saving light bulbs – have increased five-fold, while the financial 

services market has seen ethical banking and investments triple over the course of the decade.

Sales of Fairtrade products were up from £22m in 1999 to £635m in 2009 – with Fairtrade sales expected to break the £1bn barrier for the first time in 2010, according to the report.

Environmentally conscious consumers

Matt Stevens, Which? domestic appliance expert commented: ‘It’s no surprise to see consumers spending more money on ethical products and – there is much more choice available to consumers now. 

‘With advances in technology such as energy saving heat-pump tumble dryers and dishwashers that only use 10 litres of water to wash a full load, more products with environmentally friendly features are available than was once the case.’

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