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Ethical brand ratings and accreditation since 2001

The Good Shopping Guide’s mission is to inform and empower shoppers to make ethical purchasing decisions.

For over 20 years we have been the trusted researchers for ethical consumers who want to make a tangible difference. Through our work, consumers are enabled to make decisions based on facts, statistics, independent studies and investigative reports from objective publications and journalists.

Our independent research helps you avoid unethical brands and choose sustainable alternatives. Our work pressures unethical brands to clean up their acts and start adopting ethical policies and practices. Only through collective action will we ever see change.

How do we present our research?

One of the most accessible ways into our research is through our Ethical Rating Tables. These tables score companies and brands out of 100. Shoppers who care about the Environment, Animals and People can easily compare hundreds of different brands at a glance.

The scoring system on our Ethical Rating Tables shows you the whole picture. Find out how a company treats its staff, its suppliers, wildlife, animals, and the communities it touches. Know a brand’s carbon emissions, traceability of its products and more. Our research spans a range of issues relating to the Environment, Animals, and People.

The Good Shopping Guide is the ultimate resource for ethically conscious shoppers who want to understand a brand or company’s impact on ethical issues such as human rights, animal welfare, and sustainability.

But why is it so important to research these brands and companies? Let’s explore the main categories of our research and discuss why they are central to The Good Shopping Guide’s values.


Environmentalism and ethical consumerism

At the core of our research is the Environment. We examine a company’s impact on our planet. We take a ‘big-picture’ approach to our research into environmental issues, recognising that even seemingly disparate ecosystems are all closely connected. We analyse a brand’s environmental reporting, use of organic farming, carbon emissions, any environmental destruction, and use of palm oil or similarly notorious materials. You can find out more about our research methodology on our How We Rate page.

Because of their scale, multinational corporations can be extremely detrimental to our vulnerable planet. Some of the companies assessed in our research are involved in environmentally destructive activities. Plastic pollution, deforestation, overfishing and the use of fossil fuels all occur as a daily part of these brands’ activities. 

Since the industrial revolution, companies’ lack of respect for the environment has contributed to devastating climate change and global warming. According to a report by the Carbon Disclosure Project, just 100 companies are responsible for 71% of global industrial greenhouse gas emissions. In recent years, we have seen a dramatic rise in natural disasters; we see floods, forest fires, heatwaves and drought almost every day. Our planet will become uninhabitable if these companies refuse to change.

The 2022 heatwaves in India and Pakistan led to devastation across the region. Temperatures soared to 49°C. Even in colder parts of Europe, heatwaves lead to many deaths and the loss of both agricultural and wild plant life. There is growing concern that the increased frequency of heatwaves will result in crop failure and food shortages, risking the lives of over 1.5 billion people.

The effects of climate change are currently at their worst in high-risk regions, such as parts of Africa and Asia. These continents are home to some of the world’s most vulnerable people, already experiencing poverty and deprivation caused by corporate greed, colonialism and resource-grabbing. The climate crisis is exacerbating this poverty and inequality, making it more difficult for disadvantaged communities to meet their basic needs. Moreover, global warming is disrupting natural habitats, putting millions of animals at risk of extinction. 

Respecting and protecting the environment is therefore crucial for the survival of all ecologies. The planet is home to 8 billion people and countless other living species. All our homes and resources are at risk if we do not act now.

We need to call companies out on their unsustainable activities. We can hold unethical brands to account, encouraging them to do better and take action to address the climate crisis. Our research also helps consumers to identify more sustainable alternatives, so they can make purchasing decisions that help the environment. Consumers can buy organic products, avoid fossil fuels and air miles, invest in renewable energies, reduce plastic waste and make many more simple steps towards real sustainability.


Animal welfare issues and ethical consumerism 

Another central part of our research is a company’s treatment of Animals. Our independent research team assesses whether brands are taking animal welfare into account in their business activities. We examine a range of ethical issues, such as animal testing, the use of animal labour, unsustainable fishing, and the treatment of endangered species.

Around the world, there are millions of animals dying and suffering because of human activity. Unethical brands are a big part of this problem. The food industry is notorious for factory farming and intensive dairy farming. The cosmetics sector still heavily relies on animal testing, and many fashion brands use the furs and skins of endangered species to produce shoes and clothing.

And animal abuse is not unique to animals who live on land. Many marine species are threatened by issues such as overfishing, plastic waste and ocean pollution. In every corner of our globe, animal life is at risk.

At The Good Shopping Guide, we believe that humans should respect all animals, regardless of species, and allow them to live free from pain. It is our responsibility as humans to ensure that all living creatures are treated with dignity and respect, not to exploit them for profit.

Although this category relates specifically to animal issues, there is also some overlap with the Environment, as environmentally harmful practices often have a negative impact on our wildlife. It is crucial to consider animal welfare when addressing environmental issues. Sustainable practices can help to conserve species at risk of extinction and prevent the destruction of natural habitats.

The rise of vegetarianism and veganism is an important development in the story of environmentalism, with many brands now offering plant-based alternatives to traditional foods. Adopting a plant-based diet- even just for one day a week- can significantly reduce the demand for animal products and therefore the number of animals sent to slaughter. We consider vegetarianism and veganism important components of our research. We award points to companies that offer certified plant-based products, as this supports a cruelty-free lifestyle.


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How our shopping decisions affect people

People is another integral category of our research. This primarily relates to human rights issues. We investigate everything, from claims of forced labour, human trafficking, poor working conditions, diversity and inclusion policies and very low wages.

Many unethical brands and companies exploit those who work for them, including both employees and those within their supply chains. For instance, many companies rely on labour from countries with poor regulations for working hours, health and safety conditions, age of workers and pay. These unethical brands can then maximise profit and productivity at the expense of vulnerable people.

There have even been cases where unethical brands have used child or slave labour to manufacture their products, despite these practices being considered a fundamental human rights violation by the International Labor Organization.

According to World Vision, around 160 million children aged 5 to 17 are involved in child labour across the globe. This is a horrifying statistic, and it emphasises how important it is to challenge companies that are engaging in these inhumane practices.

Moreover, many marginalised peoples experience discrimination and harassment in the workplace because of their race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity or religion. Many companies do not do enough to stop this discrimination, or even capitalise on it.

At The Good Shopping Guide, we firmly believe that all people should be treated with respect. Companies should provide their workers access to fair wages and good working conditions, without being subject to abuse and discrimination. 

It is therefore crucial that our research takes human rights issues into account, so we can increase public awareness and hold companies accountable for their actions. Calling out unethical brands involved in human rights abuses helps consumers know which brands to avoid if they are concerned about supporting these companies with their purchases.


Other issues related to ethical companies and brands

Our research also includes other categories which do not necessarily fit into the three main headings of Environment, Animals, and People.

This may include ethical issues that impact all three categories, such as Public Record Criticisms, which encompass a broad range of unethical practices. This category also includes issues of corruption, such as overpaid CEOs and corporate fines.

To find out more about how we assess ethical and unethical companies and brands, see our How We Rate page.