by Michael Smith (Veshengro)
The findings have been published in the latest Ethical Consumer Market Report, which analyzes sales data across a number of consumer sectors including food, travel and finance.
Breaking the sectors down, the report shows that ethical food and drink sales increased by 36% in 2012, to £10.16bn.
This was largely due to sales of Rainforest Alliance products, such as tea and coffee, increasing by 46%, and RSPCA's Freedom Foods label also increasing with total sales up by 37%.
However, there were small falls in some sectors where price issues are most challenging, such as organic food, which recorded a 4% fall in sales and ethical clothing, down by 1%.
Looking at green home products, including energy efficient white goods, sustainable timber and renewable energy installations, sales were up by 7% to £8.9bn and ethical food and drink sales increased by 36% in 2012, to £10.16bn
The report revealed that 'ethic travel and transport' increased by 46% to £4.5bn, largely due to an increase in the sale of electric , hybrid and tax band A efficient vehicles. Sales of these vehicles were up by 157% as a result of more models becoming available.
Seeing less activity was ethical personal products sales, which rose by just 3% to £1.8bn. This was despite a big rise in the purchase of second-hand clothing (up 31%). The report says that this fits with the "story of straightened budgets in recessionary times".
The ethical products market has shown significant growth each year since the onset of the recession and this clearly demonstrates that the trend towards ethical buying is not a luxury which consumers choose to drop when the going gets tough, but an important long-term change in the way people are making buying decisions
But, despite, to some extent it being a good thing that people chose ethical products we have, however, replaced one kind of consumerism with another and that is not good, especially not for the Planet. We still buy and consume too much which we then only toss out, even if it is into the recycling bin.
All too often reuse at home and in the office is ignored in favor of going out and buying a “green” product which could as easily have been 'created' by repurposing some item of waste such as a tin can for a pencil bin or a carton – such as a wine box – made into a magazine file.
We have now gone from 'ordinary' consumption over to greensumption without, it would appear, to consider that it is still consumption. The fact that products are now 'recyclable' also seems to have added to this and we seem to think recycling before ever considering reuse, repurposing and upsycling. It would appear that we have not at all advanced in all those years. Our grandparents and their parents had a much better attitude in that department.