SHOPPING IN 2021 is not the same as it was 10 years ago.

Many companies appear to be very quick to sprawl the words 'ethical shopping', 'organic', and 'upcycled' on every product, and for some customers can lead to confusion on where to go when looking to shop 'more mindfully'.

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Any firm's steps to make products and services more ethical is fundamentally a good thing - so we have decided to delve deeper into 'ethical shopping' in Reading for local shoppers.

As the term is so broad, we have split this into five categories - companies that recycle/upcycle, are cruelty free, deal in fair trade, donate to charity, and help out the local and wider community.

1. Recycle/upcycle

What is this, and why is this 'ethical?' - According to waste management company Veolia, recycling reduces the need for extracting (mining, quarrying and logging), refining and processing raw materials all of which create substantial air and water pollution.

In essence, companies that recycle products mean they cause less harm to the environment in creating new raw materials, and also causes less harm to the environment by adding to landfill/littering.

The Body Shop

Reading Chronicle:

The Body Shop, which can be spotted in the Oracle Shopping Centre, has run a 'Return, Recycle, Repeat' programme - if you return five of their empty bottles, tubs, or pots, you will receive a £5 reward.

You do have to own a 'Love Your Body' card, however this can be signed up for online or in-store free of charge.

Elsie's Vintage

Reading Chronicle:

Elsie's Vintage, just opposite the Royal Berkshire Hospital's original entrance on London Road, is a great example of a shop that knows how to make use of old and unwanted clothes. The store collects vintage clothing that no longer gets used and sells them on to residents looking for a stylish fashion throwback.

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2. Cruelty-free

What is this, and why is this 'ethical?' - The Oxford definition of 'Cruelty Free' is: (Of cosmetics or other commercial products) manufactured or developed by methods which do not involve cruelty to animals. Needless to say, the more any company can do to avoid/prevent harm animals, the better.

This problem was once most prevalent in the cosmetics industry, where different products would be tested on animals before being sold to the general public.

These two companies below, who have stores in the Reading town centre, are proudly 'cruelty-free'.


Reading Chronicle:

Boots, which can also be found in the Oracle, states on their website: "We do not test out products or ingredients on animals and for over 20 years our policy has been that no animal testing of any kind is undertaken or commissioned by Boots or by any of our subsidiary businesses."


Reading Chronicle:

Similarly to Boots, cosmetics company Lush, who have a store in the Oracle and have been staunchly anti-animal testing since the business' first inception, say on their website: "Lush do not test on animals, do not use materials that contain animal derivatives that are unsuitable for vegetarians and only buy raw materials from companies that are not involved in the use of, or commission the use of, animals for testing and have no plans to do so in the future.

"We believe that animal testing is not acceptable. We recognise that customer safety is of importance but that this can be assured without the use of animals."

3. Fair Trade

What is this, and why is this 'ethical?' - The concept of 'Fair Trade' can best be described as trade between companies in developed countries and producers in developing countries, in which fair prices are paid to the producers.

The official Fair Trade symbol, visible below, is the only authenticated way shoppers can know that the product being sold has not been bought via an illegal or otherwise unfairly low price.

These two stores take pride in their fair-trading status.

Jacobs Jewellers

Reading Chronicle:

One of Reading's most respected independent Jewellers, on Kings Street, has previously supported 'Fairtrade Fortnight' and actively promotes fairtrade gold. The company is also in partnership with Ethical Reading, the local industry body which seeks to ensure local businesses maintain ethical practices.

London Street Brasserie

Reading Chronicle:

The Brasserie, based on London Street in Reading's town centre, have also previously been supporters of Fairtrade Fortnight, and have striven to use local, ethical and fairtrade goods.

4. Homemade/Homegrown

What is this, and why is this 'ethical?' - There are a number of reasons as to why buying homemade and homegrown products is better than buying machine made - buying homemade supports small local business, the product lasts longer, it's more sustainable for the environment, the end result is unique, hand-making keeps tradition and manufacturing skills going, and more.

Here are some examples of businesses that take pride in their hand-crafting and/or homegrown roots.


Reading Chronicle:

Picnic Cafe, which sells food and drinks at the Butter Market, takes serious pride in selling food with locally sourced ingredients, and sells a variety of locally home-made cakes.

5. Community-based

RISC/Global Cafe

Reading Chronicle:

To its credit, the Reading International Solidarity Centre (RISC), found on London Street, pretty much ticks every box on this list.

One half of the centre sells one of the UK's largest Fair Trade products and produce shops, and in the cafe a number of home-made and locally sourced food and drinks are ready to serve - the shop even has its own edible roof garden.

In terms of community-based work, the centre has an education team that works alongside teachers internationally, regularly hosts free and paid-for live events throughout the year, and is largely volunteer-based.

Reading has a lot to offer for local shoppers, if you know of other shops striving to provide a more ethical experience please let us know in the comments below!