Ethical Shopping Pressures more Ethics in Business

Over the years, and especially since the 1980s, people have been making an ever-increasing impact on the way governments and companies behave in all parts of the world. These are just a few examples:

  • The campaign against testing cosmetics on animals changed the behaviour of nearly all the main cosmetics companies.
  • A boycott in the US against Heinz forced the company to stop catching tuna with purse-seine fishing nets, which used to kill tens of thousands of dolphins each year. It also led to the introduction of the ‘dolphin friendly’ logo.
  • In 1991, Friends of the Earth launched a campaign against the stocking of tropical timber from unsustainable sources by the six largest DIY chains – the campaign eventually became a general boycott, and by 1994 all six had agreed to stop selling mahogany.
  • Probably the most dramatic single environmental boycott was Greenpeace’s campaign in 1995 against the dumping of Shell’s oil platform Brent Spar – sales of Shell petrol went down by 70 per cent in some German outlets and the company gave in after only a few days.
  • Increasing numbers of clothing companies and sports shoe manufacturers have adopted codes of conduct to protect the conditions of the workers making their goods.
  • The success of socially responsible companies Green & Blacks and The Body Shop has led to their high profile takeovers, by Cadbury’s and L’Oreal respectively. Although controversial, these take-overs suggest that big businesses are beginning to see ethical commitments as an asset.
  • Ethical shopping and relevant social pressure encouraged the phasing out of the worst ozone-depleting and greenhouse gases used in fridges and freezers. In 1994, Electrolux followed manufacturers Bosch, Siemens, Liebherr and AEG in replacing ozone-damaging HCFCs and HFCs with hydrocarbons.
  • The UK campaign against genetically modified (GM) foods was so successful that the leading companies changed their policies. Eight supermarket chains in the UK now sell their own GM-free own-brands.
  • A general boycott of fruit, wine and other products from apartheid South Africa helped to free Nelson Mandela and bring about democratic change.
  • The first edition of The Good Shopping Guide sold out in just three months, showing there is a real demand for reliable ethical information on the world’s companies and brands.