Ethical Consumer

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Ethical Consumer, or Ethical Consumer Research Association Ltd (ECRA), is a UK-based organization started in 1989 that deals with ethical consumerism. It publishes buyer guides that rate corporations and encourages people to buy from the better rated companies. They describe themselves as "a not-for-profit research co-operative, totally independent of corporate interests." Their researchers track over 50,000 companies.[1]


From their website:[2]

  • ECRA is dedicated to the promotion of universal human rights, environmental sustainability, and animal welfare.
  • They produce research into the social and environmental records of companies, and inform the development of ethical consumerism.
  • Funding comes from readers' subscriptions, adverts from ethically vetted companies, and consultancy work for campaign groups and ethical organisations.

Why buy ethically?

Their site says, "Money makes the world go round, and deciding how we spend our money might just help save it. To the ethical consumer, their money is a vote which they use every time they go shopping. Food and goods in the UK are relatively cheap at the moment. But while we might be saving money, there's always a cost somewhere down the line. Buying cheap clothes which have been made in sweatshops is a vote for worker exploitation. Buying a gas guzzling 4X4, especially if you are a city dweller, is a vote for climate change."[3]

Marks & Spencer gets into ethical consumer market

In 2006, Anthony Fletcher of Food wrote about the growing ethical consumer market in the UK. The Marks & Spencer store "has announced it is converting all its coffee and tea to Fairtrade, a decision that again underlines the growing significance of the ethical consumer. The move could also put pressure on other major UK retailers to follow suit, and affect how food in the future is sourced. The company says that a total of 38 product lines will be switched, and that the value of all Fairtrade instant and ground coffee sold in UK supermarkets is likely to increase by 18 per cent, and the value of Fairtrade tea by approximately 30 per cent as a result."

"A recent YouGov survey commissioned by Marks & Spencer found that consumers are becoming more ethically minded with 78 per cent saying they would like to know more about the way goods are made including the conditions in the factories where they come from."[4]


Consumer boycotts

Their site gives boycott info such as:[5]

  • List of past successful boycotts
  • Currently active boycotts
  • Boycott news stories from their magazine
  • Ethical Consumer's boycott campaign of companies profiting from Alberta's tar sands

Contact details

Unit 21, 41 Old Birley Street
Manchester, M15 5RF
United Kingdom
Phone: 0161 226 2929
Fax: 0161 226 6277

Resources and articles

Related SourceWatch articles


  1. Home page, Ethical Consumer, accessed December 2010.
  2. About page, Ethical Consumer, accessed December 2010.
  3. Why Buy Ethically?, Ethical Consumer, accessed December 2010.
  4. Anthony Fletcher, "Marks & Spencer dives into ethical consumer market", Food, March 10, 2006.
  5. Ethical Consumer Boycotts, Ethical Consumer, accessed December 2010.

External articles