ECO WORRIER: Over half of UK shoppers feel guilty about buying from businesses that aren’t sustainable or ethical

Press Release

New research from eBay UK finds shopping with a conscience is high on consumers’ agenda in spite of the cost of living crisis

Over half of UK shoppers feel guilty when they spend money on products that aren’t from a sustainable or ethical brand, according to new research from eBay for Change. 

Shopping with a conscience is now so important to consumers that a whopping two thirds of shoppers (65%) stop to think about sustainability before making a purchase while over half (57%) consider first if a business gives back to society. Four in 10 shoppers say that some or most of their purchases are now from brands that give back to society or the planet.

The findings come as eBay for Change – the dedicated hub for businesses with a social purpose on the marketplace – launches its second annual Shop for Change Report , which polled over 2,000 consumers on their shopping habits.

The report found that the recent cost of living crisis has changed shopping habits for 80% of UK consumers, with six in 10 saying that price is currently the factor they care most about when shopping.

However, despite recent challenges, shopping ethically and sustainably is still firmly on the agenda, with a huge 50% of consumers wanting to shop more regularly from brands which are clearly putting ethics or sustainability at the heart of their operations.

Shoppers are also optimistic about their power to make a difference with their purchases: 45% of people believe their purchases have the power to make positive change. In fact, four in 10 consider that shopping from a ‘social enterprise’ – a brand that puts social or environmental purpose front and centre of its operations – does as much or more good than donating to a charity. This is particularly true amongst Gen Z and millennial shoppers.

Over half of shoppers say they are more likely to buy from a brand which supports a specific cause close to their heart. Reducing plastic pollution is the top cause which would make consumers more likely to buy from a social enterprise, followed by protecting the oceans and preserving animals’ natural habitats.

Commenting on the findings, Chris Gale, Head of Social Impact at eBay UK said: “It’s clear that there’s a real desire from shoppers to shop for both value and values. What’s important now is that businesses and marketplaces support shoppers to act on this desire and work to eliminate the barriers consumers might have to making these swaps every day.” 

UK consumers are shopping for both value and values

The biggest barriers to shopping from ethical and sustainable brands are a perception of high product costs (according to 42% of shoppers), difficulty spotting the brands that aren’t ‘greenwashing’ (20%) and a lack of knowledge about ethical and sustainable shopping (19%).

 Interestingly, despite the perception that shopping from ethical and sustainable brands is more expensive, everyday items are the things most likely to be purchased from social enterprises. Cleaning products, everyday non-perishable food like tea bags, and regular toiletries like toilet roll are top of consumers’ lists when shopping from ethical and sustainable brands. In fact, a third of people (32%) believe that shopping from social enterprises is better value overall. 

Gale added: “Making simple ethical and sustainable swaps for day-to-day purchases can have a huge impact on both people and the planet. At eBay for Change, we believe we have a responsibility to make these swaps easier, working with a multitude of social enterprises to offer consumers a wide range of price points and by helping consumers to make an impact with their purchases.”

The full eBay Shop for Change Report is available at

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