Ethical Trends for 2023 

Our team have been working really hard towards becoming a B Corp certified organisation, which is awarded to businesses who are “leaders in the global movement for an inclusive, equitable, and regenerative economy.” As we eagerly await the outcome of our application, we thought now would be a great time to publish our next summary of recent Ethical Trends. 

In 2021 we established on the blog that ethical shopping is not just a passing trend. Each year, many Brits are experiencing a green awakening: becoming more aware of the damage our shopping habits do to the planet, and opting to shop more ethically in response. 

We also saw in 2021 that many of the sustainable lifestyle choices being made were a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which pushed many households to shop more locally and seasonally. Add this to the rising economic pressures of recent years forcing consumers to find more innovative ways to spend less, such as repairing clothing and choosing goods that are more durable. 

This raises the question: are people choosing to shop more responsibly out of necessity or is it a conscious choice? Our hot take is that it’s probably a combination of both, especially as ethical brands continue to innovate, presenting more sustainable options for shoppers.

In this year’s edition of Ethical Trends, we’re going to explore the top ethical trends of 2022, and then look to the future and see what 2023 has in store (pardon the pun).

Ethical findings of 2022

In 2022 consumers have increased their focus on buying only what they need, cutting back on their meat intake and opting for more environmentally friendly modes of transport. 

Key stats:

  • A YouGov poll showed that 2.7million people planned to take part in Veganuary 2022.
  • Aldi saw its plant-based sales increase by 500% in January 2022 compared to January 2021
  • The electric car market has grown quickly, with over 520,000 electric cars on UK roads at the end of July 2022
  • According to the ONS, almost 50% of UK adults cut down on their weekly shop
  • The sausage specialist Richmond has seen its plant-based sales soar 50.2% to £35.4m

Additionally, we’ve seen more shoppers taking more initiative in their quest to live more sustainably. For example, by choosing brands with ethical or environmentally sustainable practices and values, or more interestingly, ceasing to buy specific products because they are concerned about the practices or values of the brand. This is especially significant because it represents an entire shift in attitude, rather than just trying to save money. 

Consumers have also embraced ‘circularity’ in 2022, with one in two claiming to have repaired an item instead of replacing it with a new equivalent. The UK second-hand clothes market has continued to grow, reaching £ 2 billion this year. Much of this is thanks to sustainable fashion influencers who’re changing the narrative and pushing for positive change.

The main barrier to choosing sustainable brands is cost, with 52% of the UK admitting that living a sustainable lifestyle is not affordable. But sustainable fashion influencers are educating the public on cost-effective ways to be sustainable, such as repairing clothes. It’s not uncommon to see fashion reels showing how one garment can be styled in various ways, and even making it fashionable to hunt for hidden treasures in UK charity shops. 

Expected trends for 2023

Next year we can expect to see a continuation of the trends reported in 2022, such as meat consumption continuing to decline, as well as sales of plant-based foods continuing to increase. But what else will the next 12 months have in store?

Regenerative soil

In 2023, it’s anticipated that consumers will demand even more information about their food’s origins, going beyond the standard buzzwords like “organic,” “free range,” and “plant-based.” As more people become aware of the value of regenerative soil, food companies are starting to place more emphasis on soil health.

Mood food

Food has always been linked to nutritional health, but it’s now making its way to mental and emotional health, with benefits including improved sleep, relaxation and stress relief. This category includes anything infused with THC or psilocybin, which is in certain types of mushrooms. Restaurants, along with food and beverage companies, are already using these products, but will they enter the kitchens of everyday consumers?

‘Sustainable’ fast-fashion

Although we’ve seen a shift towards second-hand shopping in 2022, fewer consumers may feel the need in 2023 as more fast fashion retailers are committing to reducing their environmental impacts. For example, Zara’s 2020 pledge was to use 100% sustainable fabrics by 2025, H&M’s recently stated plans to achieve the same goal by 2030, and Adidas has promised to phase out virgin polyester by 2024.

Clean label

Although plant-based alternatives are more ethical because they don’t contain, well, dead animals…the problem is that compensating for the flavour we get from animal products requires a myriad of unnatural ingredients and preservatives. All the while, the demand for clean labels is growing, with significant references to natural foods that are healthy, sustainable, and free of artificial ingredients. In response, some companies are leading the development of a brand-new class of plant-based foods that emphasise the utilisation of natural, or minimally processed ingredients.

It looks like 2023 is set to be an interesting year for ethical shopping, and we can’t wait to see what innovation lies ahead as organisations strive to meet the ethical demands of everyday consumers. 

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