Ethical spending up again in UK

Posted: 3 February 2006

The Ethical Consumerism Report, which acts as a barometer of ethical spending in the UK, shows that in 2004 UK consumers spent a total of £25.8 billion in line with their ethical and environmental values, an increase of 15 per cent on the previous year. Over the same period, UK household expenditure increased by only 3.7 per cent.

The 2005 report, which is published by the Co-operative Bank in conjunction with nef (the New Economics Foundation) and the Future Foundation, revealed that £3.4 billion of spending in 2004 can be attributed to consumers wishing to do something to help counter climate change, an annual increase of 21 per cent.

Sales of A-rated energy efficient appliances were up 23 per cent year on year, whilst one in ten consumers are electing to use public transport for environmental reasons. Micro-generation at UK homes (solar panels, domestic micro-wind, etc.) is up 314 per cent, and now worth £23 million.

Simon Williams of the Co-operative Bank said that "a significant finding from this year's Report is that consumers are increasinglytaking it upon themselves to tackle climate change, spending £3.4 billion in the process. On average,this equates to some £140 per household.

"The Report also reveals many areas of accelerating growth such as Fairtrade and free-range eggs. What were previously thought by some as somewhat curious or niche marketing exercises, are now becoming mainstream", he said.

Ethical investment

John Taylor of nef said that "one of the most exciting developments this year is the emergence of a market for micro-generation. While politicians debate targets, consumers are taking matters into their own hands and responding actively to global climate change. We believe that this demonstrates the case forinvestment in ethical businesses and the active promotion of ethical consumerism as core strategies for tackling the urgent threats to our environment and well-being."

The report shows that ethical consumption in the UK has grown for the sixth consecutive year. It reveals that:

  • Money invested ethically broke through the £10 billion barrier for the first time, to stand at £10.6 billion

  • Consumer spend to offset climate change totalled £3.4 billion

  • Spend on food, including Fairtrade and organics, topped £4 billion for the first time

  • Spend on ethical fashion, reported on for the first time, stood at £680 million

  • Market share for ethical products has increased by 22 per cent over the last six years.

    Source: New Economics Foundation