What you buy

As consumers we are  powerful. The market responds directly to how we spend our money. If just a relatively small proportion of us choose to shop differently, ask questions and demand changes then we would see a shift.

Social scientists say it will take just 11% of us to do things differently to create a cultural shift and if we talk about this to others we will really begin to make a difference. Talking about our new life choices normalises them, and brings the need for change into the consciousness of other people. Talking and asking questions shows the retailers that we care.

So, here are our top three tips to shopping more consciously:

  • Increase the proportion of money you spend in local independent shops. Set yourself a target of allocating so much of your weekly housekeeping spend to shops in your local town.
  • Ask shop assistants where products are made and whether the raw materials are sourced sustainably.
  • Actively look for ethical sourcing labels such as FSC (for timber and paper products) and Fair Trade. Support ethical and fair trade outlets online and use these words in your online searches.


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A special word about where you buy your food…

Supermarkets control 80% of the UKs food supply. They are brilliant at what they do in providing a plentiful supply of cheap food but there are so many hidden drawbacks to our communities, the environment and our economy. Is it a price worth paying for such convenience?

Two farms a week close because of the supermarkets aggressive commercial policies and the alternative food structures which are there need as much support as we can give them. Here are our top 3 tips for diversifying your weekly food spend away from the big five:

  • Look into getting  regular food box delivery from a supplier such as Riverford Organics.
  • Support local farm shops or community food co-operatives if you have them near you.
  • Shop at your local food shops – the butcher, fish monger and the green grocers.


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A special word about where you buy your gas and electricity…

Change to a green tariff. They cost only marginally more than a fossil fuel tariff, and you can make the difference up with energy efficient measures (see energy at home section). Avoid going for a green tariff with one of the main energy companies, as all you are doing is helping them fulfil their renewable energy obligation, rather than making a real difference.

It’s much better to support the smaller 100% renewable energy companies such as  Good Energy and Ecotricity. For price comparisons see the Martin Lewis website.