Why you should avoid Amazon and buy ethically this Christmas
Have you got all your Christmas shopping sorted yet? If not, you'd better get a move on as the number of shopping days left until the Big Day itself are rapidly running out.
You'd be forgiven then for taking the easy option of simply going online to buy everything you need. But before you press that Buy Now key, I'll just say one word: STOP!
The problem is that online shopping now is dominated by just one, mind-bogglingly big company: Amazon. Brace yourselves, as the bad news is that according to campaigners, Amazon is quite possibly the most unethical company in the world.
So just what's so wrong with Amazon?
Last year despite record-busting sales across the UK and Europe of £38bn, because of its creative tax arrangements, incredibly Amazon paid zero corporation tax. This left campaigners fuming because avoiding paying tax means that Amazon is able to unfairly undercut local businesses who take a more responsible approach by paying their fair share of tax. Ethical Consumer has been campaigning against Amazon for almost a decade and as well as tax avoidance, they accuse Amazon of being anti-unions and allege that they treat their workforce appallingly in their drive to maximise productivity and profit. Plus the online giant destroys millions of items of unsold stock every year including brand new smart TVs, laptops and designer headphones.
That doesn't exactly fill you with the Christmas spirit does it? The good news though is that it's never been easier to boycott Amazon yourself.
Ethical Consumer has recently produced an A to Z guide of how to shop without using Amazon including a product guide that lists the UK's most ethical online retailers. Among these is Ethical Shop which is now an Ethical Consumer recommended Best Buy and has also signed up to Ethical Consumer's Best Buy Label scheme.
So what makes Ethical Shop an ethical Best Buy?
Central to Ethical Shop's operation is their strict ethical buying policy. This ensures that unlike all the consumerist tat flogged on Amazon, all the products sold online are sourced responsibly, so for example many products are Fair Trade, organic or recycled. Crucially, this rigorous buying policy also means that no worker who makes these products is exploited. Ethical Shop is also different to other online ethical retailers because it exists to support The New Internationalist, a campaigning magazine that's been published for almost 50 years. The great thing about Ethical Shop is that it's crammed full of gift ideas that you wouldn't find anywhere else. For example Gebana is a Fair Trade company that delivers freshly picked organic oranges from Greek farms straight to your door. Plus how about this brilliant Fair Trade woollen Christmas Pudding bobble hat made in Nepal or why not help a Palestinian farmer plant an olive tree?
But no matter what you end up buying, shopping at Ethical Shop guarantees that you're not going to be trashing the planet or ripping off workers – and that's got to be something to celebrate this Christmas.
Simon Birch is an award-winning freelance environmental journalist and a regular columnist with Ethical Consumer magazine.