We’re surrounded by so much choice on what we can buy. But it can be difficult to find out the information to make the buying decisions that we want to make, in line with our values. Fortunately, information about brands, their actions and what they stand for, is becoming easier to find out, with guides that can help point us in the right direction.
The Good Shopping Guide, published by the Ethical Company Organisation, is one of the original guides that has been published in book form annually since 2002. It is now making its ratings available on its website for everyone to freely use.
The sections in the guide cover everything from home and office goods through to food and drink, with categories as specific as washing-up liquid and breakfast cereals. Each brand is given a rating out of 100, based on a number of ethical criteria, and from this rating the brand is either recommended as buy, questionable or avoid. The researchers at The Good Shopping Guide look not only at the specific brand, but the parent company behind the brand. For example, Seeds of Change is an organic pasta brand, but it is owned by Mars, and it is therefore judged on the basis of the parent company’s activities as well.
At Po-Zu, we are delighted to have achieved the highest ranking in the Shoes and Trainer category. We achieved a score of 86 out of 100, as well as being certified by the Ethical Company Organisation. There are typically 12-15 criteria that are used in each category, with criteria varying according to the specific issues that an industry faces. For example, ‘human rights’ is included as a criteria in the Footwear section because workers’ rights are an important consideration in the shoe and apparel industries. All of Po-Zu’s shoes are made in Portugal and you can see how our shoes made here, as part of our ethical promise.
Materials are another important consideration when looking to buy shoes ethically. The Good Shopping Guide recommends an alternative to leather due to animal rights and environmental issues. However, PVC, often referred to as ‘synthetic’ is to be avoided, as environmental campaigners say that it is the single most environmentally damaging of all plastics and also harmful to human health. At Po-Zu, we use leather from Iberian origins, which is tanned without the use of harmful chemicals. We are also looking for alternatives to leather and have introduced a vegan, solvent-free eco microfibre in some of our ranges.
When you are looking to make a purchase, as well as checking the overall rankings, The Good Shopping Guide also suggests looking at the detailed table which gives each brand a top, middle or bottom ranking for each criteria. This allows you to make decisions based on the criteria which are most important to you, whether related to the Environment, Animal Welfare or Human Rights.
In this way, each product that we buy can truly be a vote for the kind of world we want to live in.