An Ethical Business is thought to have four pillars: People, Animals, Planet and Profit. This means that ensuring the wealth of employees, reducing or eliminating animal products and testing, and minimizing or even reversing its environmental impacts should be as important as turning a profit for it to be sustainable in the long run. Supporting ethical brands means you are supporting those businesses who care about building a better world, more sustainable, fair and kind.
Companies go where the consumer interest is. It’s no coincidence that McDonald’s is launching plant-based burgers, or that you have the Clean at Sephora stand to easily find clean and blue beauty products. Adidas has a line of shoes made from recycled sea plastic, and will soon launch a 100% recyclable shoe. Still, be aware about greenwashing. Support brands that are committed to being entirely sustainable rather than brands that bring out the occasional ‘sustainable product’.
Finding ethical and sustainable options can be time-consuming to research so we wanted to make it easier. SheSapiens’ members have vetted each brand listed below to confirm they are ethical in one way or another. Our advice: support smaller, more niche, less mainstream brands and put love into your community by shopping local. Choosing second hand over new is also a great option, doing so will reduce your waste, and consequently your footprint on the planet.
Fair-trade means workers’ rights, safer working conditions and fairer pay. These include gender equality and non-discrimination, combatting structural racism, ending child labour and modern slavery, monitoring health and safety, providing financial security, etc. It doesn’t have much to do with the country where products are manufactured but with the brands’ impact on workers across the supply chain. For shoppers it means high quality, ethically produced products.
Immanuel Kant said “We can judge the heart of a person by their treatment of animals”. For a brand to be ethical it must ensure animal welfare, reduce or eliminate animal products and testing, commit to not use fur, leather, wool, down and feathers, angora, and any type of animal hair or animal skin. Cruelty-Free means no animal testing has occurred, whereas Vegan implies the products don’t contain any animal-derived ingredients or by-products.
Eco-friendly means the brand considers the resources used (ethically produced or recycled materials) and their waste management, the packaging, product durability, maintenance instructions, shipping, deforestation impact, carbon emissions, water usage and pollution, chemical use and disposal, etc. Environmentally-friendly, Earth-friendly, Green and Sustainable are just other words for something that’s advertised as “not environmentally harmful”.