Ethical shopping choices can have a good environmental impact

Morgan Grindy

Shopping from stores, whether they’re selling clothing, shoes or groceries, that are considered ‘ethical’ can provide many benefits to yourself and the environment. According to the website, Ethical Consumer, shopping from stores that have a positive impact on the world is good for the environment, local and global societies, animal welfare and yourself. Choosing what stores to shop from based on their environmental impact is what ethical shopping is all about.

A “The Good Shopping Guide,” a website that scores different kinds of stores based on their environmental impact, ranks stores by their “ethical company index.” They calculate the ethical company index based on whether they “are eco-friendly and have a strong code of ethics, have strong business ethics and have an unwavering commitment to corporate social responsibility.” They also consider consumer insight and concerns into the score.

Different initiatives for green and ethical shopping are connected to different types of stores. Fashion or clothing stores receive top scores when they “are members of the Ethical Trading Initiative or are affiliated to the Fair Labor Association.” These are two different associations that work to promote fair labor and trading laws.

Some clothing stores that “The Good Shopping Guide” has given top ethical scores to are ASOS, H&M, New Look and Patagonia. Some of the stores that scored low were Gap, Topshop and Oasis. The scoring for clothing stores focuses on the use of sweatshops, fair trade and the cotton they use.

According to “The Good Shopping Guide’s” website, “nearly one third of a pound of chemical fertilizers and pesticides is needed to produce enough cotton for a single T-shirt.” These toxic chemicals pollute the air in areas of cotton production and nearly “20,000 deaths occur in developing countries each year from poisoning by agricultural pesticides” that can be attributed to cotton, according to the World Health Association.

“The Good Shopping Guide” reports that some of the high scoring shoe companies are Veja, UGG, New Balance, Birkenstock, Dr. Marten and Fila. Some of the low scoring shoe companies are Asics, Timberland, Nine West, Converse and Nike. For shoe companies, the materials used and the working conditions of production factories are the major components they consider and research when scoring.

Another type of store that they research and score is skincare companies. Of the companies they scored, Living Naturally, L’Occitane, The Body Shop and Lush scored high. Stores such as Garnier, Kiehls, L’Oreal, Aveda, Clinique, Estee Lauder, Olay, Clean & Clear, Neutrogena, Ponds and Simple all scored in the low category.

There are many other categories of stores as well as other websites that track and report on the ethics of different companies. Huffington Post journalist, Brian Hughes, published an article on the benefits that ethical consumerism has on companies, not just consumers. He stated that the bottom line is, “the benefits of being an ethical company go beyond warm and fuzzy feelings. The benefit of giving back to the world is a fantastic goal.”