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History of Ethical Shopping and Corporate Social Responsibility

In the last twenty years, ethical shopping has grown from a niche concern to a genuine phenomenon. The ethical shopping movement is now practised by everyone from parents to politicians, and credited for increasing public pressure for greater corporate social responsibility worldwide. The timeline below charts some of the key events in its history.


  • General Electric boycotted for its involvement in nuclear weapons


  • Avon stops animal testing in response to social pressure
  • Iceland forced to stop whaling in response to Greenpeace campaign


  • Dolphin-friendly logos launched following campaign against Heinz’s use of purse-seine nets


  • Protests lead to huge drop in number of animals used in cosmetics testing
  • People stage general boycott of companies involved in Gulf War


  • Boycott of goods from Taiwan leads to ban on sale of endangered rhino products
  • General Motors stops using live animals in crash tests after three year boycott
  • Nestlé reports falling sales following Baby Milk Action boycott over its marketing of breast milk substitutes


  • L’Oreal changes animal testing policy following extended boycott
  • Friends of the Earth persuades ‘big six’ DIY chains to stop selling tropical timber


  • Campaign against dumping of Brent Spar oil platform decimates Shell’s petrol sales
  • France forced to cancel some of its nuclear testing programme following trade boycott


  • Organic food market is reported to be worth £200 million


  • First annual edition of The Good Shopping Guide is published


  • Companies begin to pull out of Burma following continued protests from people and NGOs


  • Sales of Fairtrade food and drink reach over £100 million per year


  • Report reveals sales of organic products have soared by 30 per cent to £1.6bn


  • Despite economic pressures, sales of Fairtrade certified products increased by 43% in the UK


  • 90% of UK households buy organic products


  • Ethical comparison data goes mobile with the iPhone app from the Ethical Company Organisation
  • The number of fish and seafood products certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) shot up by 41% in the UK at the end of 2011 from the previous year, as retailers and supermarkets respond to peoples’ demand to know the origin of the produce they buy.


  • A complete ban on the sale of cosmetics developed through animal testing took effect in the EU. The ban applies to all new cosmetics and their ingredients sold in the EU, regardless of where in the world testing on animals was carried out.
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