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Ethical brand ratings and accreditation since 2001

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. Ethical shoppers have increased 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 animal in crash tests after three year boycott
  • Nestle reports falling sales following Baby Milk Action boycott over its marketing of breast milk substitutes


  • L’Oréal 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


  • 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


  • An Inconvenient Truth is released, leading to greater public awareness on climate change and global warming
  • 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


  • 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


  • The Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare is established


  • 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.


  • The Good Shopping Guide website is launched
  • Emma Watson gives her famous speech on gender equality at the United Nations


  • The Paris Agreement comes into effect, with 193 countries agreeing to limit global warming to below 2°C and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C
  • Windfarms in the UK begin generating more electricity than coal power plants
  • The National Living Wage is introduced in the UK


  • Greta Thunberg begins her campaign by protesting outside the Swedish parliament, with over 20,000 students joining her cause by the end of the year


  • Annual consumer spend on ethical products and services reaches £122 billion within the UK – up from £11 billion in 1999.


  • China changes its animal testing laws, allowing imported ‘general cosmetics’ to be sold in the country without being tested on animals
  • The COP26 summit results in the signing of the Glasgow Climate Pact, with more than 40 countries pledging to move away from coal
  • The United States passes the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, with the goal of ensuring that goods made with forced labour in the Xinjiang region of China do not enter the U.S. market
  • Switzerland becomes the 30th country to legalise same-sex marriage


  • Over 900 companies boycott Russia as a result of its invasion of Ukraine