The Ethical Company Organisation (who produce the Good Shopping Guide and the Gooshing website) have recently completed research on the ethical status of major UK supermarkets in a study which looks at 12 areas of concern. Some of these areas are animal welfare, environmental impact and human rights.
Probably not that surprisingly Sainsburys, Marks and Spencer and Waitrose scored the highest with their ‘Ethical Company Index’ scores and Iceland, Tesco and Asda lagged behind. I was surprised to hear however that there is a huge difference between those high and low scoring supermarkets.
The Ethical Company Organisation also tell us that Sainsburys is the only supermarket to agree to a full Ethical Accreditation to be carried out by a 3rd party.
Last year I vowed to kick the supermarket habit and only buy our groceries and household goods from the farm shop, independent shops, the market and the organic veg box scheme. Quite honestly though this turned out not to be as easy or as sensible as I first thought. You see, there is a Sainsburys supermarket just 2 or 3 minutes walking distance from my house and so if I run out of organic / local milk or bread for example to avoid going to Sainsburys I would have to get a bus into town or drive to the farm shop or wait until the following Thursday for the veg box scheme! There is a milk delivery service but this seems very sporadic.
In this case walking to the supermarket to buy Rachel’s or Yeo Valley organic milk (not necessarily Sainsbury’s own) surely has to be the most efficient and environmentally friendly way, doesn’t it?
I feel that these initial findings from the Ethical Company Organisation are very encouraging and if we selectively use supermarkets to demonstrate that we want local and organic products from them then they obviously listen. We could be cynical and say its a marketing ploy and their heart isn’t really in it but in some ways I don’t think it matters as long as the end result is the same.