Adam Stoner / Christmas and change: Ethical alternatives to big brands

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Liza Minnelli was correct when she sang that 'money makes the world go round' and whether you like it or not, we are all people who have to operate within a framework whereby being a consumer and purchasing things is a mandatory act. Because of this, our money is one of the most powerful tools we have in expressing our point of view – perhaps even more so than the ballot box.

Every act our money is involved in is tacit moral, political, and ethical support. I've written in the past about how one of the most hands-on ways a person can affect change and support a cause they believe in is by funding it. The same is true when it comes to the items we buy and where we decide to keep our money.

The holiday sesason is around the corner and this essay is dedicated to better options. 

I highly recommend taking out a digital subscription to Ethical Consumer who have an extensive selection of leaderboards, allowing you to filter companies according to values that are important to you and as an Individual Member of 1% for the Planet, I am somewhat biased in saying: Start with any business that features the 1% for the Planet logo (from the likes of Patagonia to Fathom Analytics and even Pukka Tea) and work from there. 

Here are a list of companies I use:

  • The Phone Co-Op is a carbon-neutral co-operative owned telecoms company. Their mobile phone service piggybacks on the EE network so you get the same coverage as a big giant with decent ethics to match.
  • I bank with Triodos. They list every organisation they loan to on their website so you know your money is being used for the common good.
  • I use Moneybox for socially responsible investing. The fees associated with socially responsible investing are a touch higher than other investment options but worth paying when considering the opposite of socially responsible investing is socially irresponsible investing.
  • Rapanui make clothing with organic materials and renewable energy using plastic-free packaging and non-toxic dyes. When your clothes wear out, return them to Rapanui, where they will recycle them in a closed-loop system to make new ones.
  • Bulb offer 100% renewable energy and 100% carbon-offset gas (10% of which is green) on a single tariff.
  • Redemption Roasters across London offer socially responsible wholebean and ground coffee. Earlier in the year I purchased (nearly) zero-carbon coffee from Yallah, which came to the UK from Columbia via sail boat. 
  • Teapigs fuel us with tea, from English Breakfast to relaxing Peppermint and Liquorice.
  • Who Gives a Crap supply our household with plastic-free bog-roll. 
  • LushAnita Roddick's the Body Shop, and Aesop, owned by the same parent company as the Body Shop, deal with toiletries.
  • The Ethical Superstore is my go-to for presents of any kind and taking a leaf out of the Minimalists' book, I prefer to gift experiences (from GoApe to cinema trips, climbing experiences and hotel trips) rather than things.