What is #ShopEthicalInstead?

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Every year, Black Friday whips shoppers up into a mass consumption frenzy.

Throughout November, we can expect to be bombarded with marketing emails, advertising and sales messages encouraging us to chase those bargain deals.

Then it all begins again as we move into the Christmas shopping season in December.

But behind those cheap prices is a hidden cost.

People in supply chains are being exploited.

Workers are paid less than real living wage, leaving them unable to afford even the basics at the end of a hard day’s work.

The planet is paying the price.

Our oceans are overwhelmed with plastic waste.

Air pollution is increasing from all the delivery vans on the road.

Forests are being cut down.

Landfills are overflowing.

We can’t sustain our rate of consumption any longer.

But there’s still a lot of excitement for Black Friday.

We can’t turn down the volume on all those sales messages. Shopping at this time of year is an established social norm. And asking people to go against the grain and boycott the day altogether isn’t going to create widespread change.

But there is an alternative…

The average UK consumer will spend over £200 during Black Friday weekend.

What if we could take that excitement, and channel it into something more positive for people and the planet?

What if we could use that £200 per person to pay people a real living wage, and keep our local communities thriving?

What if we could redirect some of those sales from global corporations to small businesses?

Every time you buy from a small business, it’s a cause for celebration.

It’s you playing a part in celebrating and supporting someone’s dream, and helping them to put food on the table.

Many of these small businesses are operating in more ethical and sustainable ways, using fair supply chains, no exploitation, and more eco-friendly business practices.

And small businesses make 80% of their annual revenue in the last 3 months of the year. These sales are essential for their survival.

What if we could support them, simply by switching how we shop?

That’s the ethos behind the #ShopEthicalInstead campaign – a positive alternative to Black Friday.

Organised by #EthicalHour – the world’s first and largest support community for people who want to live and work more ethically, #ShopEthicalInstead celebrated its 5th year in 2022 and was bigger and better than ever!

Supporting Britain’s shopkeepers

Having weathered the pandemic and now going through a cost-of-living crisis, it’s a challenging time for ethical SMEs, but they are still fiercely committed to paying living wage, creating jobs, supporting communities and treading as lightly on the planet as possible. 

99% of all businesses in the UK are small businesses. We are proudly a ‘nation of shopkeepers’.

For every £1 spent with a small or medium business, 63p remains in the local economy – compared to just 40p spent with larger firms.

If we want to support everyone through the cost of living crisis, if we want our local communities to stay vibrant, diverse and beautiful places to live, and if we want to live in a world where everyone is paid a fair wage for the work they do – we need to support the small businesses on our doorstep.

We need to #ShopEthicalInstead.

Making ethical shopping easier

Throughout November and December, we spend more money than any other time of year on gifts for our loved ones. 

#ShopEthicalInstead is Britain’s largest sustainable retail campaign – focused on making it easy to buy good gifts from the ethical small businesses all around you.

#ShopEthicalInstead 2022 reached 4.7 million people in the crucial 6 week pre-Christmas shopping period. Giving consumers access to gift guides, tailored by recipient, to make it easy and convenient to find the perfect gift, opportunities to meet the business owners and makers, hear the stories behind the products, and see first hand what a positive impact it makes when you buy from a small business.

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Over 100 small businesses were hand selected for inclusion in the Virtual High Street – bringing them all together in one place to make Christmas shopping more convenient.

And #EthicalHour’s marketing experts at communications agency 181st Street created thousands of branded graphics and social media posts – giving small businesses a Christmas marketing campaign in a box to save them time, and increasing their conversions by providing marketing expertise that would otherwise be unaffordable.

What impact does it make?

Powered by a leading communications agency, with a centralised approach to content creation, the campaign gives small businesses access to marketing expertise and resources that many cannot usually afford.

With a combined audience of over 1 million people, #ShopEthicalInstead gives small businesses a bigger voice at a crucial retail moment. Helping them achieve cut-through as a combined force, without advertising spend, in a way that simply isn’t possible otherwise for individual brands.

That’s how we reached over 4.7 million people in 2022.

That’s how we supported over 100 small businesses to survive and thrive.

That’s how we increased sales by 18% for the brands involved.

And thanks to the generosity of our Impact Partners Ecologi – who planted a tree for every sale over the Black Friday weekend, we planted 5,858 trees too!

How can you get involved?

As a consumer…

Read the gift guides to find the perfect gift.

Discover ethical brands on our Virtual High Street and hear their stories.

Search the #ShopEthicalInstead hashtag on your social media platform of choice to discover more brilliant brands.

Share the small businesses you find, love and buy from – it makes a big difference! Don’t forget to include the #ShopEthicalInstead hashtag.

Read our founder Sian’s book, Buy Better Consume Less Create Real Environmental Change, to discover the power of your purchase and beyond!

As a brand…

If you are a small business driven by your ethical and sustainable values, please fill out this form and we will be in touch about the next campaign.

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