Buying into ethics

So Body Shop is to be bought by L’Oreal. As ethical chocolate producer Green and Blacks was bought up last year by Cadbury Schweppes. Ethical shopping is becoming big business, and big business is watching, waiting and waging a successful takeover campaign.

Perhaps it’s me, but those two events seem to reflect a desire to dominate the market without altering the baseline philosophy of the parent company. Why not simply move Cadbury, L’Oreal products into the ethical arena? Instead of controlling the ethical company, and thereby tainting by association the image of ethical product, why not move L’Oreal into a fully ethical position by stopping all animal testing? European legislation requires newly developed cosmetics to be tested on animals; perhaps we simply don’t need any new face paints? Presumably Body Shop have managed quite well without them… I wonder if they will remain pure to that choice?

Of course, having suggested improvements within the parent company we have just that in Nestlé bringing out a Fair Trade coffee… And that just seals the quandary. I shan’t be buying Partner’s Blend, no matter how fairly traded the coffee beans might be – I simply couldn’t accept the resonances that associate with the Nestlé name, and the fundamentally unethical business practices they still promote.

And that’s the difficulty of buying ethically, in a nutshell. No wonder so many of us just don’t bother! But we must keep trying. Heh, my workplace even decided (finally) to order Fair Trade tea and coffee recently, and they’ve agreed it tastes at least as good as the previous product. Now to get those recycle bins on site and stock the print room with recycled paper… one thing at a time eh?

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