Shop with a clear conscience
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Date: October 2002
Ethical Marketing Group
Review by Caroline Early
Concerned about the environment, but overwhelmed by the increasing amounts of eco-jargon appearing on product packaging? Sickened by the use of sweatshops in the manufacture of branded goods, but dont know your Adidas from your Nike? Or maybe the phrase ethical consumer means nothing to you, but youd just like to make the world a better place? Then this is the book for you!
Public awareness of the negative impact which the commercial sector can have on our world has been growing apace over recent years. Yet in a world where people feel politically disempowered and the influence of governments is overshadowed by that of large corporations, its easy to feel that theres little the average consumer can do to make a difference. The Good Shopping Guide will make you think again.
Based on research conducted by ECRA (the Ethical Consumer Research Association ),The Good Shopping Guide exposes the ethical triumphs and travesties behind 700 every day consumer brands, giving you all the information you need to make your till receipt as important as your vote. There is clear endorsement for the most ethical brands in the form of a simple GOOD Shopping Guide ethical standard logo, soon to appear in a high street near you. A host of far less flattering revelations expose the ugly truth behind many supposedly friendly household names. Heinz, Sony, Boots and Disney are just a few examples of familiar brands which score some of the lowest ratings.
In light of the fact that the textile industry is perhaps the biggest exploiter of workforces in the third world, it is surprising that the only clothing item covered is sports shoes. However, as the most comprehensive and accessible book of its kind to date, The Good Shopping Guide represents a landmark achievement. By bringing ethical shopping into the popular realm of guides such as Which?, the Good Shopping Guide has created the potential for a revolution in consumer behaviour.
Whilst there is much of use here for even the most seasoned ethical shopper, the emphasis is kept firmly on accessibility. Five straightforward sections cover a wide range of basic consumer items from white goods to beer, even tackling the tricky world of personal finance. Short tables provide an at-a-glance summary of the good, the bad and the really ugly in each product area, while a longer version breaks this down in terms of the environment, animals and people. Useful sub-divisions such as, Workers Rights, Boycotts and even Political Donations, enable the reader to differentiate between products on his/her own terms.
But The Good Shopping Guide doesnt just help us decide what to buy and what to boycott. Practical tips on the responsible use and recycling of products provide useful ways to further minimise our effect on the environment.
In spite of a large number of attractive but unnecessary photographs, this A5 sized guide is still just light enough to take on a shopping trip. And if theres only one companion you really need in the aisles, it is this book.
If youre still not convinced that The Good Shopping Guide is a must-have, you might be persuaded by some of the stories in the chapter Ethical Shopping Success. The inspirational examples of consumer-driven change featured here are enough to convince anyone of the difference each and every one of us can make, simply by altering the way we shop.
You can buy this book from Christian Aid by calling 020 7523 2229.
To find out more about the Ethical Consumer Research Association (ECRA), who undertook the research for the Good Shopping Guide visit their website.