Image credit: New Internationalist, used under Creative Commons license.
The term "ethical consumerism" has always given me an icky feeling. Whether it is discussion regarding the feasibility of a better world through buying stuff, or the accusation that greener shopping is more about status than sustainability, it would seem I am not alone. Nevertheless, I was excited to find out that "ethical shopping"—that is the spending of money on everything from organic food through Fair Trade goods to ethical finance—bucked the recession in the UK and grew by a staggering 18%. After all, if you're going to buy something anyway, it makes sense to buy green.The news, reported over at The Guardian, comes from the Cooperative Bank's annual Ethical Consumerism Report. Interestingly, (although perhaps predictably) the growth was by no means uniform. While sales of Fair Trade goods rocketed by 64% between 2007 and 2009, and energy efficient goods increased their sales by 8%, organics did not have such an easy time of it. In fact, with recession-strapped shoppers looking to save on their grocery bills, sales of organic foods slumped by 14%. Investments in solar and other micro-renewables also failed to grow—although the massive surge in interest in solar resulting from recent Government subsidies looks set to change all that.
All-in-all, while it's important to remember that shopping can't save us, it is good to see that green(er) consumers don't easily switch back to their old ways when times get tough. And as Lloyd's post about how recession can help the environment showed, a slower economy can mean less pollution and waste too.
I'm hoping this silver lining was constructed from recycled materials...
More on Economics, Recession and Sustainability
10 Ways Recession Helps the Environment
Counter-Point: 4 Ways that Recession is BAD for the Environment
No Recession for Bicycle Makers
Frugal Green Living: Seven Tips to Get Recession Ready