4 Ethical UK Businesses To Have On Your Radar
Since entering the CSR/Ethics space on a more professional level, I’ve been blown away by the sheer number of incredible UK ethical businesses and individuals that are each doing their bit to make the world a better place. No better is this observed than each Monday at 8pm, during #EthicalHour on Twitter, which has quickly become a personal weekly highlight. Throughout the hour, individuals and organisations come together, asking questions and sharing best practice with one another, so everybody can benefit. If there is one thing that we can be absolutely sure of, it’s that nobody will change the world on their own, and a community such as the one present during #EthicalHour should be unconditionally encouraged.
Anyway, during one such hour a couple of weeks ago, I sent out a tweet asking for some stories of ethical businesses that could make up a blog post. The number or responses was an incredibly pleasant surprise, to the point where I’m sure this won’t be the last post of this nature. For now though, I wanted to focus on 4 companies that I’ve been fortunate to learn a bit more about. Each of the companies have a slightly different focus and are at different stages of their journey, but the social benefit of each of them cannot be argued.
So without further ado, and in no particular order, here are 4 UK ethical companies to have on your radar:
It would probably be impossible to write this sort of blog post without mentioning Traidcraft, such is the scale of their achievements and social impact. Traidcraft were founded in 1979, and have been firmly at the forefront of the Fair Trade movement ever since. In a world where supply chain ethics and transparency have become huge talking points, and consumers aren’t entirely sure how their favourite products have been made, the importance of companies like Traidcraft shouldn’t be underestimated. All of their products are sourced and created in an ethical manner, and they use Fair Trade and WFTO accreditations to ensure that suppliers continue meeting their high standards.
Perhaps the thing I like the most about Traidcraft, is the sheer product range that they offer. When shopping for ethical products, it can sometimes feel like a real challenge, having to spend what seems like hours finding each individual item that you’re after. What Traidcraft have been able to do is grow and expand into many different product areas, offering a bit of a ‘one-stop-shop’ for ethical consumers. It’s remarkably impressive, and I’m sure I’ll end up spending a fair amount when birthdays and Christmas come rolling around.
One thing that specifically impresses me about Traidcraft is their use of social media. With ethical companies, it can sometimes be tempting to dilute the social message when engaging in marketing, focusing instead on generic product information and special offers. I love how Traidcraft use their social ambition as their ongoing differentiator, and it helps maintain their sincerity and integrity regarding the issues they’re tackling. My only wish, and it is very pedantic, is for Traidcraft to communicate more stats and outcome stories of their work, so consumers can not just see what they’re aiming to do, but exactly how successful they’re being at meeting those aims. Being able to quantify their incredible work would be a great marketing tool, and one that would probably engage with consumers very effectively on social media.
I think when consumers try and live a more ethical life, they naturally resign themselves to the idea of sacrifice. It’s as if being ethical means spending lots of time finding alternative ways to do things, or avoiding them altogether. Under the latter idea, travel will surely fall into the bracket. For the most part, you are responsible for a load of CO2 when you jump on a plane, and then usually end up being a strain on the resources of whichever country you decide to visit. I’ve personally spoken with people who, in attempt to live ethically, have decided that they will never go abroad again, but I think that’s a bit of a dramatic approach.
The thing is, in order to change the world for the better, we need to come up with realistic solutions. Telling everybody they can no longer travel is so unrealistic it’s basically pointless, but traveling in a responsible way, well that’s an idea I can get behind. This is where Earth Changers comes in, and why I think it’s such a fantastic enterprise. On their website they currently have 11 different locations, all of which seem to strike the perfect balance between luxurious and socially beneficial. These regions, such as the Galapagos islands, are facing a genuine risk with regards to sustainable development. By using Earth Changers for your next trip, you can not only enjoy a once in a lifetime experience, but make a genuine contribution to these places, ensuring that they’ll be enjoyed for generations to come.
In terms of communication, Earth Changers are very active on social media, and their stunning locations help create really engaging content. I particularly love their use of Instagram, and it’s no surprise that all of their photos receive loads of likes; they look incredible! Of course, you may question how flying to destinations could ever be sustainable, but Earth Changers are really transparent about this, discussing the emissions reductions that the aviation industry has achieved in recent years on their website. Overall, Earth Changers are a company that I really hope consumers get behind, as it’s one that I personally think could help influence the future of ethical tourism.
I’ll just go ahead and say it, but the more I hear about this company, the more blown away I am by how socially beneficial they are. In fact, I was so desperate to include The Soap Co in this post, that I delayed the article a few days until I had all the information that I felt did them justice.
As the name suggests, The Soap Co specialised in soaps and other body care products that have an ethical edge. Now, you might be thinking that this is basically the same concept that has made companies like Lush and The Body Shop so successful, and you’d be right. However, I actually think that The Soap Co are one step ahead of both those companies, and it’s all due to just how much they care about these issues, and how deeply they integrate them into every area of their organisation.
For starters, let’s look at packaging. Their bottles have a 45% lower environmental impact than regular PET bottles, the sticky label is compostable, the glue is biodegradable. I could go on, but it’s clear they’ve really thought it through. With packaging being such a huge issue at the moment, particularly surrounding plastic, I find The Soap Co’s approach both refreshing and impressive.
However, perhaps what I love most is how their social ambition transcends their products. Not only have they stayed away from fully automated manufacturing (which would put people out of work), their semi-automated process combines with a high quality, hand made approach, with all their products made by people who are disabled, blind, or otherwise disadvantaged. For me, this is a great example of CSR issues overlapping. Whilst the products must be ethical, it’s super important that companies don’t stop there, and providing so many socially beneficial hours of employment is one of the best examples I’ve seen.
What’s more, they manage to do all of this whilst creating products for a reasonable price, that look really good! Well worth checking out if you’re after ethical body care.
Although Ethihub might be a tad smaller than the other companies listed, I still think it’s really important to feature them. Similar to Traidcraft, Ethihub is all about sourcing high quality products from skilled artisans in Southern India, and then marketing them and selling them in the UK. In what seems to be a rapidly growing market, this kind of company can have a real impact on the lives of people who are traditionally forced to battle poverty and a poor quality of life.
At the moment there is a small, but expanding range of products, and it certainly shines through that quality has not been compromised. Additionally, the products are all quite reasonably priced, and will certainly not deter the ethical shopper, who is somewhat known to pay a little bit above average for a socially beneficial product.
When it comes to communication, Ethihub are also present on the main platforms, and I particularly like the personal style that Ethihub have created on both Twitter and Facebook. Going forward, I think Instagram could be a fantastic way for Ethihub to grow and become more mainstream, and I’d love their communication strategy to include more details/stats about the people in Southern India that they are helping. Of course, it’s early days, and the journey will no doubt be a long one, but I’d certainly put Ethihub in the ‘one to watch’ box!
So there you have it! Following my Ethical Hour tweet, these are 4 ethical UK companies to keep an eye on, and more importantly, shop at! Whilst these great companies and entrepreneurs can no doubt make the world a better place, they can’t do it without ethical consumers choosing to buy from them, so be sure to check out their websites.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve really enjoyed writing this type of article, and I think it’s great to help promote and learn about some of the great ways that people are addressing social and environmental issues. If you’ve found it interesting to read, and want to see more of these posts, let me know by sharing it on your preferred social media platform and/or leaving a comment!
Hi! I’m an author and blogger within the fields of social impact and responsible business. I believe that businesses can be a force for good in the world, and this website contains my thoughts on how that can work.