Resource Title

Ethical Consumerism: a guide for trade unions


A resource exploring the role of Trade Unions in responding to the higher expectations of modern consumers around the social, economic and environmental responsibilities of corporations.

Resource Details


Active ethical consumers’ (some 55% of the ICTU survey) are “calling for a new model in trade in which justice and equity are integral parts of the transaction.” The resource looks at the role that Trade Unions can play as part in the growth of this movement.

The resource begins by defining ‘What is “ethical consumerism?”’. It then focuses on ‘origins of consumer activism’ and how this relates to globalisation and then focuses on the rising membership of ‘Consumers’ International as a global voice in supporting consumer activism.

In exploring ethical consumerism, the report defines and compares Ethical trade and Fair trade; ‘Organic and free range produce’ and uncovers ‘Ethical labels’. It also tackles the issues of ‘Recycling: An essential element of ethical consumerism and Sustainable development’.

Importantly, the resource branches outside of traditional sectors that are covered by the above and delves into the ethics of the finance sector. It looks into the issues of ‘Ethical consumerism in the finance sector and Ethical investment.

Finally, the resource concludes with ‘Trade union action on ethical consumerism and provides a list of additional resources for further study: Civil society organisations and campaigns; Organic and free range organisations; Sustainable development; Ethical banking and investment; Ethical retail and 2 suggested publications.

Available from:

Download Ethical Consumerism Guide PDF (2.60MB)

For more info visit the Global Solidarity section of the ICTU website