Nick Rosen | |

The Good Shopping GuideGuess what? Ecover is no longer the number one choice among eco-friendly detergents. (find who now holds that honour at the end of this article).

Lloyds TSB and the Royal Bank of Scotland should be avoided if you are looking for a home loan from an ethical company. Try the Nationwide, if you want a big company, or Ecology Building Society or the Ethical Mortgage Service instead. And Ecover has also been knocked off the top slot for house cleaners, dropping to number four.

These are just a few of the useful findings in the new Good Shopping Guide – click on the picture to buy the book. In dozens of handy sections from toothpaste to TVs, and Insurance to Ice Cream, the guide lists the main brands, and then rates them on an easy-to-read scale. Using 14 separate tests, including categories like Irresponsible Marketing, Animal testing, Environmental Reporting and Workers Rights, the guide delivers a point-by-point guide to each company’s activities.

If you are about to buy some batteries, for example, you can go to that section, learn about the toxic ingredients in batteries and other criteria specific to batteries. At the end of the section you learn that Boots, Panasonic and Sony batteries are a complete no-no , and the best two brands are unknowns Rayovac and Uniross. If course, who knows whether they last as long as Duracell, as that is not one of the tests this book applies.

Sensibly, the publishers do accept sponsorship on their pages nobody says ethical has to mean non-profit. But that does not stop them applying exactly the same criteria to sponsors as to the other companies being rated. The section on all-in-one printer, scanner fax machines, is sponsored by Brother, which rates well under the ethical criteria. But the clear winer is Ricoh, followed by Amstrad, with Brother in third place.

There are 90 or so categories, but not everything is easy to research. And one has to wonder why there is a special section for perfumes and aftershave but not for DIY, for example. Money spent on nice smells must be classed as a waste of precious resources, but its what people want, isn’t it? Obviously the publishers are living in the real world, at least some of the time.

And the number one detergents Bio-D from the Bio-D company, or Clear Spring from Faith Products. Among House Cleaners, the Good Shopping Guide recommends Orange Plus from Natural Eco Trading, and Bio D again.

Buy our book - OFF THE GRID - a tour of American off-grid places and people written by Nick Rosen, editor of the off-grid.net web site

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