Tips for being an ethical consumer

by Nikki Mattei

Tips for being an ethical consumer

Today is Social Enterprise Day

The numbers of social enterprises across the world is growing as normal people look to solve some of the global challenges (climate change, homelessness, health problems, access to clean water, food quality and provenance) by setting up a business to address these issues whilst re-investing their profits to tackle these problems even further.

As a freelance marketing director for ethical businesses, I am a supporter of Social Enterprise UK, who are the national membership body for social enterprise. From local grass-roots organisations to multi-million pound businesses from the public, private and third sectors, what unites their members is their commitment to changing the world through business.

There are growing numbers of conscious consumers who do want to make ethical choices and it is getting easier to do that with the rise of social enterprises and other ethical businesses.

My Ethical Shopping Guide

I thought it would be useful to share my ethical buying habits for anyone who wants to start becoming an ethical consumer:

My Money

Well, if you are going to go shopping, you need some money!

  • Business banking & personal savings- Triodos Bank only invest in ethical businesses focused on environmental and social issues. I have my business bank account with them and a personal ISA

  • Personal Banking – Triodos only has savings products at the moment for consumers but a personal current account will be coming at some point. So I have my account for the time-being with The Coventry (TLC not PLC!).


For around ten years now I have been buying organic food for environmental and health reasons. As I work, I use online for shopping. I buy from Ocado as they have a large number of organic lines as well as Abel & Cole, a real supporter of British organic farmers.

Beauty Products

For many years I have bought most of my beauty products from Neal’s Yard Remedies due to their organic and fairtrade ingredients and their support of environmental issues like the Save The Bees Campaign.

I also buy from The Organic Pharmacy when I want to treat myself and for their breast cancer awareness work as well as Odylique, a lovely range of organic beauty and cosmetic products run by a mother and her daughter.


This is a much more difficult area as the fashion industry is still way behind when it comes to transparent supply chains, workers’ rights and care for the environment. Some of the bigger brands like H&M with its Conscious Collection are starting to face these challenges but I have to admit that, when it comes to clothes, I still don’t always buy ethically.

This is one of the reasons I have just become actively involved in the second Fashion Revolution Day which will take place on 24 April 2015. I am part of the team who are focused on getting more students, schools, colleges and universities involved.

The two brands I have bought from myself are People Tree, the leaders in ethical fashion, and a small company called, Mudd & Water.


I have just swopped to Good Energy, who provide energy which is 100% generated from renewable sources like wind, solar and hydro. They are usually cheaper than the Big Six standard tariffs and they have been voted top of the Which? customer satisfaction survey for three years on the trot.


I have a new client, Planet Pure, who manufacture organic and fairtrade laundry detergents as well as a whole range of household products. So, of course, I use them in my home. I am working for the UK distributor and we are just about to launch in the UK so you won’t find them for sale just yet. If you are interested, do let me know via my contact page

SEUK Christmas Gift Guide

Social Enterprise UK have just created a special Social Gift Guide so that you can try to buy ethically this Christmas. Take a look here.

So I hope I have given you food for thought and you can start to think about how you could shop more ethically.

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