The rise and rise of ethical shopping

Ethical shopping in Britain continues to grow.

The sales of ethical products have grown faster than those of ordinary products for the 14th year in a row, according to the 2017 Ethical Consumer Markets Report.

Published on 9 December 2017, it refers to 2016 sales (it uses sales data from a range of companies, which increases research time), and shows that some 42 per cent of the British public shopped locally in Britain, spending an estimated £2.7 billion, a 3.2 per cent rise on 2015. The value of boycotts reached an astonishing £2.5 billion.

This is particularly relevant as the holiday season peaks. US discount events, hyperbolically labelled ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday’, have been transposed across Europe, with the periods before Christmas and between Christmas and New Year’s Day becoming the busiest spending times in our annual calendars.

While sales figures are celebrated by pundits, Christmas consumerism is not all a reason for good cheer. It has been found to fuel sweatshop labour, for example. As an article published by New Internationalist last year put it, ‘The imagery of cheerful elves making gifts in Santa’s workshop is far from the reality. [...] These “elves” are in fact real, living Chinese workers, forced to work around the clock to churn out millions of products.’

Fortunately, ethical shopping is less fraught and can even help improve lives in distant places.

‘Money is a vote which you can use every time you go shopping,’ says the Ethical Consumer Research Association, the Manchester-based research co-operative behind Ethical Consumer magazine and authors of the Ethical Consumer Market Report, on their website.

‘By using your spending power wisely you can help in the struggle towards a better world.’

The report provides some hope in an overall rather bleak year for politics around the world.

It shows that while conventional foods struggled to maintain sales, ethical food and drink saw a 9.7 per cent growth.

Bicycle sales have grown 5.4 per cent, as more and more people become interested in healthier lifestyles. Green energy also grew 54 per cent.

Sustainably caught fish – one of the star performers of the year – grew by nearly 37 per cent, and is a case in point. Certifying a fishery as sustainable is not simple, and the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) work over 20 years is beginning to bring results. Some 12 per cent of the global marine wild catch is now certified to the MSC Fisheries Standard.

Other elements of this growth can be ascribed to a changing mind set among consumers. A YouGov survey showed that vegetarianism grew 30 per cent this year, a trend that, if maintained, could result in improved conditions for the environment and animals.

New Internationalist is proud to be part of the ethical shopping movement. We don’t just talk about global justice – we put our money where our mouth is when we set up the Ethical Shop in 2015.

Our online shop offers a wide range of sweatshop-free clothes, foodstuffs, books, and other goods, all purchased from small, ecologically sound and fair-trade suppliers.

The Ethical Shop helps to fund our journalism, while also providing an ethical alternative to the public.

If you still need to buy any Christmas presents, consider doing it with us at

More information, and previous versions of the Ethical Consumer Markets Report, are available from

Slow Fashion: Caryn Franklin and Safia Minney Live Q&A


Safia Minney (left) and Caryn Franklin.

On Wednesday, 23 March 2016, ethical fashion pioneer Safia Minney, MBE, launched her new book, Slow Fashion: Aesthetics Meets Ethics at The Duke of Cambridge Pub. She was joined by Caryn Franklin, MBE, British fashion expert and commentator, to answer questions in front of an audience of 80 journalists, bloggers and campaigners about Safia’s book, the fashion industry’s approach to ethics and where the slow fashion revolution is heading.

Caryn: Good evening everyone and lovely to see you. I’m going to be really teasing out information from Safia about her book, Slow Fashion, that you will hopefully all take home with you tonight.

It’s a fantastic book packed with knowledge and words from people who have done a small part of the journey with Safia. [Safia has helped] to bring those voices and an alternative belief system and that’s crucially important because we need a system to believe in or a logistic to engage with in order to shift and in order to change and Safia is doing all of that work.

So just tell us a little bit about the book…

Safia: There has been a staggering shift in the awareness – in civil society in industry, in policy and in the media after the horrific tragedy of the collapse of Rana Plaza. I wanted to really capture this new chapter which has been full of incredible campaigns like Fashion Revolution, ethical brands and stores that have really put pressure on the industry and policy makers to change.

Also, as I was developing the European market for People Tree (now celebrating our 25th anniversary since I started the company in Japan). The retail growth of eco-concept stores worldwide is amazing. They sell Fairtrade, sustainable and ethical fashion and look completely different to how they looked 10 years ago.

Travelling around Germany, Scandinavia, Japan... it’s incredible to see the proliferation of ethical brands which has led to better quality stores – alongside ethical and vintage fashion, they sell ethical lifestyle products, local art, they have organic cafes and run talks about well-being and social issues. I think the whole fashion industry is changing and we have some of those key people here tonight who have helped shaped that change.

[Through use of the Slow Fashion’s QR codes] you can actually go into the stores, look around and see the products and meet the people who run them. These people have done a remarkable job of creating stores which are really engaging. And we need more stores like this, so I’m really hoping that we can promote the eco-concept stores near us. Because this is the future of fashion, telling the story of fashion – the story of the producer and the products.

Caryn: Tell us a little about why you think it’s taking much longer for the fashion industry to embrace slow produce – we’re in one of many organic, slow food pubs in London but why is slow fashion taking longer?

Safia: Clearly fashion products have a shorter product life cycle – a maximum of six months, often to design a product and then get it to market – it makes it very expensive in terms of supply chain development. All of the transparency needs to be done and truly sustainable and fair – this takes time to check properly. We’ve come to a place where we have Fairtade and ethical systems and standards for cotton (like organic cottons) and Fairtrade standards for clothing manufacture.

There’s a lot of initiatives that show how to improve the supply chain, worker’s rights and environmental protection, compared to 5-10 years ago, I don’t think that fashion companies now have any excuse to not engage with delivering sustainability and workers’ rights behind the products they make and retail.

Caryn: How can we now get over the worthiness of Fairtrade issues not having the ‘edgy approach’ or ‘coolness’ that people are looking for when it comes to fashion? How can we weave this in that it's uncool not to link the worker with the product?

Safia: There’s beautiful, quality products and really desirable fashion that you will buy because you love the product. Clearly ethical fashion is competing on an un-level playing field and there is no real environmental or social cost factored into conventional fashion prices.

That is a genuine challenge for ethical brands as we spend money on developing supply chains, paying fair prices and better environmental practice results in less money available to spend on marketing.

Caryn, how do you think ethical fashion companies can get more for their tiny marketing budgets?

Caryn: What I do know from the work that I’ve done in promotional work with sustainable fashion is that we need to reach these individuals and get them to make a personal decision and unite them. What happens is that people get stuck in a system and they feel dis-empowered which is why an alternative belief system is crucial.

Everyone wants to make a contribution to change. Especially if you work in fashion – we need to contribute to what feels good about being human. I’ve seen you do it, saying ‘come and help, you know you want to.’ We need to incorporate more ambassadors who can do that on your behalf, invite people to switch, to make changes in their lives on a limited budget so that they feel very engaged with slow fashion and what it is they love about fashion itself and the opportunity for change.

Safia: It might sound strange, but despite being an owner of People Tree, we ought to be buying less fashion. We ought to be buying more second-hand vintage, up-cycled and when we do buy something new, of course it should be Fairtrade and organic! It’s about people being more conscious about what they buy.

Caryn: Do you have a simple point to leave our audience with tonight?

Safia: I just want to tell you about some of the feedback I got from some of the Fairtrade groups I work with from around the world including Nepal, Bangladesh and India about the Slow Fashion Book.

In Bangladesh they said: ‘If we have better stores selling our clothing and products, we can empower more women, more people with these orders, we can build schools, we can build clean water facilities, we can start micro credit programs.’

From India: ‘We want to introduce some of your campaigns in Europe here in India – your book is inspiring to us!’

So really there is just so much excitement from the Fairtrade movement about this book.

I really hope to create livelihoods and support people to help themselves and that my new book will inspire people to start new stores and to continue to campaign for fairer fashion, I hope.

Slow Fashion: Aesthetics Meets Ethics is available in paperback or hardback directly from New Internationalist.

Free Integrity eBook Competition

Integrity book

Integrity: new novel which delves deep into the choices and emotions of a woman trying to change the world, and a man trying to change with her © New Internationalist

As icecaps melt and cities swelter, are we are on the brink of disaster? This question was recently asked by World Literature Today in a review of four eco-books which, in their own right, emphasised that 'the environmental collapse seems unavoidable or has already begun. The characters all wrestle with the same question: in the face of disaster, do individual choices matter?'

Integrity, our new eco-fiction novel was one of those recently published titles that World Literature Today reviewed. 

But first... what is 'eco' or 'climate fiction'? Eco-fiction includes any book that is ecologically or environmentally oriented (sometimes known as cli-fi). Integrity began its life as a screenplay 'Tunna väggar' which won multiple awards in Sweden. With its initial success, Anna Borgeryd, its author and one of Sweden's most influential environmentalists, had the story of one woman trying to change the world and a man trying to change with her translated from its native Swedish to English. It's already received glowing reviews from Sweden, the UK and USA by environmentalists, eco authors and various book review sites.

Anna Borgeryd (photo copyright - Andreas Nilsson)

To announce its official release, New Internationalist will be hosting an exclusive evening with Anna Borgeryd along with sustainable fashion businesswoman, Safia Minney (founder of People Tree). The event will include free wine, canapes, Swedish Polarbröd bread (made by Anna's company powered solely by wind-power) and signed copies of Integrity. This will all take place in London at tibits restaurant - world-famous for its vegan and vegetarian menus, 12-14 Heddon Street (just off Regent's Street) at 6:30-8:30pm, Wednesday February 17th.

Because this book has a global scope about our impact on the environment, we'd like as many people from as many countries to read Integrity. And because some of you won't be able to make it to the book launch event, we'd like to extend a limited giveaway to digital copies of this 'compelling novel that brings the big city picture of climate change, economic greed and runaway inequality down to a deeply personal level.' (Dr Vandana Shiva)

For your chance to win, email [email protected] with the subject line 'Free Integrity eBook' letting us know the format you'd like to receive your free eBook (as a PDF, ePub or PRC file).

This is only for a limited time, and is subject to the first 100 to respond. Good luck!

Blacklisted construction workers will be heard

Blacklisted invitation

On the day Home Secretary Theresa May announces a public inquiry into undercover police spying on peaceful protest campaigns and bereaved parents of murder victims, those at the very centre of the scandal will have their voices heard in parliament tonight.

The official book launch for Blacklisted by Dave Smith and Phil Chamberlain published by New Internationalist is at 6pm in Committee Room 15, Houses of Parliament, Westminster.

The book exposes the illegal blacklisting scandal orchestrated by the largest transnational construction companies in Britain, including Sir Robert McAlpine, Carillion, Costain, Balfour Beatty, Skanska and Kier. The book provides previously unseen documentary evidence about the role of undercover police spying units in colluding the blacklisting conspiracy.

Those attending the book launch will hear from:
Dave Smith – secretary, Blacklist Support Group, blacklisted worker, co-author of Blacklisted
Phil Chamberlain – investigative journalist and co-author of Blacklisted
John McDonnell MP
Gail Cartmail – Assistant General Secretary, UNITE

And added to the line-up today:

Helen Steel – blacklisted environmental activist, McLibel defendant and one of the women suing the Metropolitan Police.
Peter Francis – undercover police officer turned whistleblower
Rosa Curling – lawyer for Peter Francis from Leigh Day solicitors

We GUARANTEE new revelations about undercover police spying on trade unions not currently in the public domain will be announced tonight.  

To arrange interviews contact:  [email protected]

Blacklist Support Group

New Internationalist publishes new Austerity book

In the name of Austerity, the past five years in Britain have seen wages frozen, benefits slashed and public spending squeezed. The pain of a financial crisis caused by bankers and speculators has been borne by ordinary people all over the country and, in particular, the poor and disabled.

book cover of austerity

Yet, argues Kerry-anne Mendoza in her hard-hitting and scathing new book, Austerity: The demolition of the welfare state and the rise of the zombie economy, this call for cost-cutting has not been born of necessity. Rather it has been an opportunity seized upon by neoliberals to pursue their decades-long project to shrink government and put Britain’s most cherished public resources into private hands.

Meticulously researched and drawing on a profusion of facts and figures, Austerity exposes in painstaking and eye-opening detail the rapid and devastating impact of government policies on the economy, health, education, social security, employment rights, criminal justice and civil liberties.

To quote Mendoza, ‘the reason I devoted an entire book to identifying and characterizing our problems is – no-one wants a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist to them. The lack of economic and political education in our society has created a population that struggles to ask the necessary questions.’

If, as this enlightening book clearly shows, Austerity is neither temporary, nor necessary and will not bring any kind of economic progress that will benefit 99 per cent of the population, what next? Saving her thoughts on our escape route for another book, Mendoza does highlight some solutions that can be put into place in the short term, including breaking up the big banks, increasing wages, introducing price control measures on the UK Essentials Index and abandoning neoclassical economics.

With a general election just around the corner, now is the time to take action. As Mendoza concludes: ‘We need to understand it deep in our bones that the cavalry is not coming. We ourselves are the cavalry. Only our newly emerging people’s campaigns and institutions can resolve the crisis, because the existing institutions not only created it, but exist to serve it.’

‘Please read this book. In an age of cynicism, disinformation, sloppy journalism, and despair, this is a joy – a heart-breaking, well-informed, intelligent and important joy. Read this book and tell anyone else you meet to read this book. It could help to save all of us.’

A.L. Kennedy, writer and performer

Interview opportunities

If you would like to interview Kerry-anne Mendoza, please contact:
Kate Shepherd,
The Oxford Publicity Partnership Ltd,
2 Lucas Bridge Business Park,
Old Greens Norton Road,
Towcester, NN12 8AX, UK

Tel: +44(0)1327 357770
Email: kate.shepherd _AT_ or gary.hall _AT_

About the author

Kerry-anne Mendoza left her job as a management consultant in banking, local government and the NHS to join the Occupy protests.

She is author of the blog, Scriptonite Daily, which receives 250,000 page views per month, has 7,000 followers on Twitter and 6,000 on Facebook.

The No-Nonsense Guide to Equality Shortlisted for The Bread and Roses Award 2013

The No-Nonsense Guide to Equality by Danny Dorling has been shortlisted for The Bread and Roses Award 2013.

The Award was first presented last year and it goes to the best radical non-fiction book published in the UK.

The shortlistedequality_cover books "inspire, support or report on political and/or personal change", are "accessible" and "relate to global, national, local or specialist areas of interest".

Last year, for the inaugural prize, Counterpower by Tim Gee was in the shortlist and the Award was won by David Graeber with Debt: The First 5,000 Years.

The winner for 2013 will be announced on May 11th at the ARB London Radical Bookfair.

Here is the full 2013 shortlist.

So watch this space and good luck to Danny!

New Internationalist wins Amnesty Media Award

Vanessa Baird wins Amnesty Award
Vanessa Baird receiving the award with Helena Drakakis of The Big Issue.

We’re delighted to announce that our co-editor Vanessa Baird picked up a prize at last night’s inspirational Amnesty Human Rights Media Awards.

Vanessa won the Consumer Magazine category with her Nature’s Defenders published in October 2011. She traveled deep into the Peruvian Amazon to report on how indigenous peoples are fighting dams in their ancestral lands, and up into the highlands to report on fierce resistance to mining companies.

When she stepped up to accept the award, Vanessa thanked the Asháninka people for trusting her – despite being let down by journalists in the past – and told the packed auditorium why they had decided to do so.

‘They said their governments would not listen to them, but they did care about how Peru was seen by the international community.

'That is why it is so important that we tell these stories.’

Gratitude to locals was an ongoing theme throughout a moving ceremony that celebrated both the bravery of the people fighting oppression and the press who bear witness.

Amnesty awarded prizes to many reporters, journalists and photojournalists who had covered the uprisings in the Middle East, with Syria featuring heavily.

The late Marie Colvin was awarded the National Newspaper award for her courageous– and ultimately fatal – coverage of the atrocities in the Syrian city of Homs.

The awards were a reminder of how important it is for journalists to continue chasing the stories that matter, and shine a light on human rights abuses across the world.

Buy a copy of Nature’s defenders - can indigenous people save the planet?

United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has undergone many transformations throughout its history, but it has often been associated with glamour. From its earliest days when it was governed by Cleopatra, to its inception as the global provider of fine pearls, it is now home to a 7-star luxury hotel, an indoor ski mountain, and is featured in the latest Sex and the City film. However, all of this glamour has not come without a price – especially in political and environmental terms.

Flag of UAE

Realizing that oil and gas revenues are finite, each of the seven Emirates that comprise the country have diversified their economies in various ways. The seat of political and economic power, Abu Dhabi, focused on Islamic banking and financial markets. Dubai, the most visited of the Emirates, aimed to bring in high-end tourism, and carried out a rather frenzied building of megatowers and land reclamation projects that expanded the area’s territory into land masses in the shapes of the continents of the world, palm trees, and other novel forms. When the credit crunch hit, Dubai’s economy suffered and Abu Dhabi was forced to provide a bailout.

Even if Dubai’s economy has been at least temporarily rescued, the same cannot be said for its environment. Not only does this desert state hold several verdant golf courses for tourists, the temperatures of the sand on some of its beaches are even cooled so that 7-star guests need never worry about burning their tender soles! With even polo ponies living in state-of-the-art air-conditioned quarters, and with virtually no public transport, it is unsurprising that the Worldwide Fund for Nature ranked the UAE as having the worst per capita carbon footprint in the world. The government acknowledges this issue and has invested in renewable energies to some extent, but freely admits that as long as there is a need for fresh water and temperatures in the Gulf region remain high, environmentally costly desalination and air conditioning will continue unabated.

Politically, the UAE is interesting, if not exactly progressive. Once known as the Pirate Coast due to the questionable control exerted by its ports over passing shipping in the Persian Gulf, the British did a ‘protection’ deal with the local Emirs in what then became known as the Trucial States at the beginning of the 19th century, and they became official British protectorates in 1892. The relationship with Britain continued until independence in 1971, at which point Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Fujairah, Sharjah and Umm al Qaiwain formed the United Arab Emirates, with Ras al-Khaimah joining a year later.

Just prior to this point, oil was discovered in Abu Dhabi and, as the richest and most powerful of the Emirates, it was decided that this state would serve as the political capital. Sheikh Zayed, the ruler of Abu Dhabi at the time, is thought of as the founding father of the nation.

The very name of the nation implies that it will continue to be governed by Emirs, absolute monarchs, though the United States has been pressuring the UAE to democratize more of its institutions. With such a high standard of living, as well as dizzying per capita incomes, however, there seems to be little appetite among most UAE citizens for democratic protest or reform. As one cynical expatriate stated: ‘Why live in a democracy when you can live in a glamocracy instead?’

Boycott Lonely Planet

*Add your voice! Sign the petition.*

People are being urged to stop buying the Lonely Planet guidebooks until BBC Worldwide – the current owner of the travel series – withdraws its guide to Burma. The call comes today as the TUC, Tourism Concern, Burma Campaign UK and the New Internationalist launch an online petition calling on the immediate withdrawal of the Burma edition.

The petition, available online at says that the availability of the Lonely Planet guide to Burma encourages tourists to visit the country, and gives people the impression that such travel can be done in an ethical manner.

The four organisations believe that the Lonely Planet guide helps give legitimacy to the brutal regime, as do the tourists who use it to visit Burma. The online petition highlights the link between mass human rights abuses and the tourism industry in Burma, reminding people that over a million Burmese people have been forcibly removed from their homes to make way for new tourism developments.

Both the Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and Burmese unions have appealed to tourists of the world not to visit the country while the current military dictatorship remains in power.

Visitors to Burma are helping sustain the military junta by giving it much-needed foreign currency, says the online petition. It says that it is virtually impossible to visit Burma without handing over cash, as visa fees, airport duties and currency change are all unavoidable outlays for tourists.

Late last year when BBC Worldwide bought the Lonely Planet guides, the TUC and Tourism Concern wrote to the company asking it to withdraw its Burma guide immediately. The petition says that the BBC Worldwide’s refusal to remove the book is in direct contradiction of the BBC’s own CSR statement, which acknowledges the corporation’s responsibility ‘for both the impact of our output and how we run our business.’

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: “The very existence of a travel guide to Burma encourages people to visit a country they might not otherwise consider. We want to see the travel industry drop Burma from their list of destinations and taking the Lonely Planet guidebook off the shelves would help enormously. If enough people sign our petition and stop buying Lonely Planet guides, we hope we can encourage the BBC to think again.“

Tricia Barnett of Tourism Concern said: “Given the appalling human rights situation in Burma, we don’t believe it is possible for any company, including BBC Worldwide, to adopt a neutral position on the issue of travel to the country, as it is apparently seeking to do with its Lonely Planet guidebook. The BBC should stop sitting on the fence and send a clear message of condemnation to the regime by withdrawing the Burma edition of its book.”

_New Internationalist_ co-editor Chris Brazier said: “The latest issue of New Internationalist has a special focus on ethical travel. Holidaying in Burma is one of the most unethical trips you could make, given the brutality of the current regime. The Lonely Planet guide to Burma should be immediately withdrawn.”


*Tourism Concern* is an independent, non-industry, UK charity and membership organisation that fights exploitation through tourism (registered charity no. 1064020). Tourism Concern aims to change the way that tourism is traded and developed through collaborative work with industry, government, development and human rights NGOs by supporting marginalised voices.

*New Internationalist Publications* is an independent not-for-profit communications co-operative. Its multi-award winning magazine, _New Internationalist_, brings to life the people, the ideas and the action in the fight for global justice

*The Burma Campaign UK* is the only national organisation in the UK dedicated to campaigning for human rights and democracy in Burma.

*The Trade Union Congress (TUC)*, with member unions representing over six and a half million working people, campaigns for a fair deal at work and for social justice at home and abroad.

Burma and Tourism: Facts and Figures

NI Book Events in the UK

_Don't Shoot the Clowns_ book launch with author *Jo Wilding*
Friday 6 October. 7pm, Housmans Bookshop, 5 Caledonian Road, London.

Iraq War Film Double-bill with *Jo Wilding* (author of _Don't Shoot the Clowns_). _A letter to the Prime Minister: Jo Wilding's Diary from Iraq_ and _The War Tapes_, followed by Q&A with *Jo Wilding*.
Sunday 15 October. 12 noon, Curzon Soho, 99 Shaftesbury Avenue, London.

_No-Nonsense Guide to Human Rights_ Book Launch
Tuesday 3 October. 5.30pm, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, UCL, 28 Russell Square, London/

No-Nonsense authors give No-Nonsense talks
The first series of No-Nonsense events is taking place at Blackwells in Oxford (48-51 Broad St), 7pm on Thursdays in the Café.

Thursday 12th October
*David Ransom*, author of the _No-Nonsense Guide to Fair Trade_
*David Ransom* explores the future of fair trade in the face of corporate takeover. Should we support the move by big corporations into fair trade as a step in the right direction? Is there a trade-off for ethical companies between growth and the principles of fair trade?

Thursday 26th October
*Jerome Ravetz*, author of the _No-Nonsense Guide to Science_
*Jerome Ravetz* questions Science in its global context. When we look at the great issues facing us, like climate change, species extinction, and nuclear proliferation, it seems that science (through its applications in technology and industry) is a part of the problem. Can it be part of the solution?

Thursday 2nd November
*Chris Brazier*, author of the _No-Nonsense Guide to World History_
*Chris Brazier* explains the challenge of trying to cover the whole of World History in under 150 pages. Does the pocket-guide format constrain or liberate the historian? Is there value in such a concise view of history? How do the first years of this millennium fit into the patterns of history

Thursday 16th November
*Wayne Ellwood*, author of the _No-Nonsense Guide to Globalization_
*Wayne Ellwood* asks what kind of Globalization do we want? What are the forces shaping the global economy? Who benefits and who loses? Is is possible to build a global economy based on economic justice and environmental stewardship?

Book launch for _Bittersweet World of Chocolate_ and our new _Trigger Issues_ series of books.
Thursday 19 October. 6.30pm, St Antony's College, Woodstock Road, Oxford.


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