Consuming​ Responsibly (1)

bookshop image

Our Bishop has asked us in a recent blog to be Christ-like.  Since a large part of our existence consists of consuming, from food to car miles and from clothes to where we put our money, I often worry about just how responsibly I am behaving.  In this Season of Creation, I have done my own research and made some useful discoveries which others may find helpful.  Here is just one for now. 


We all know that a well-known online bookseller is decried as a tax-cheat, the scourge of local high street bookshops and no doubt other things besides (employment practices, excess packaging, environmental audit?)  – yet how useful to be able to order books online, have your credit card details ready-saved, construct a shopping list ‘saved for later’ or just a ‘wishlist’, and – oh joy! – ‘buy with one click’…  So just how much sacrifice does being ‘ethical’ require?

Fortunately, the market does respond, at least up to a point, to what we as consumers need or want and there are a number of ‘ethical’ alternatives for those of us who really value the online bookseller.  Top of the list are second-hand sources, with Oxfam and World of Books:  I ordered How To Be An Agnostic (hardly mainstream!) from the latter on Monday, received it on Thursday, free delivery, acceptable condition.  Then there’s actual reading online – where Kindle is of course just one brand amongst many – and, for some of your reading if not all, this guarantees the ecological satisfaction of not using trees for paper or packaging nor resources (including roads and energy) for delivery. scores highly on this front, according to the magazine Ethical Consumer and their product guide on booksellers.

If, like me, you feel there is nothing to beat a brand-new untouched real book to enjoy all the physical as well as the mental pleasures of reading, at least occasionally, then you have to drop just one notch (according to the same ethical rating) by turning to Better World Books (new or used) or Guardian Bookshop, both of which claim to be principled booksellers.  Indulge yourself in another notch or two below par – yet still miles better than the rest of the field – and you get to Books Etc or Hive.

Hive and your local bookshop

Hive is valued by some because of its links with local bookshops. You can nominate a local bookshop and support it every time you buy since Hive promises to give them a percentage of your order, or you can arrange for your order to be delivered to your local bookshop.  Hive also offer free home delivery and also have ebooks.  I have begun to use Hive just recently and have been impressed by their speed, efficiency, and quality.

And by the way, we’re still above 10/20 in terms of those ‘ethical ratings’, where other famous names take us from 10 all the way down to 0/20.  No further comment needed!

To follow:  Ethical banking?  How do you rate your supermarket? And Recycling Clothes.

David Soward
September 2017

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