Ethical spending is worth £14bn - Co-op

Consumers spent £6.8bn on green goods last year such as fair trade coffee and organic food, up 19 per cent on the previous year, showing the power of the ecological pound. Including sales of ethical banking and investment products, the total value to the UK economy of ethical goods and services was £13.9bn.

The research, published yesterday by the Co-op Bank, was based on a basket of consumer goods including food, energy, charity shop purchases, subscriptions to charities and other household and personal items such as cosmetics.

Around £800m was spent on fair trade and free-range food and consumers shelled out a similar amount on organic food – up 33 per cent. Fair trade coffee and tea sales were up 17 per cent to £24.1m. Fair trade chocolate sales rose 69 per cent to £20.8m.

Eco-tourism, where holidaymakers choose resorts that do not have a damaging impact on the environment or local communities, is also seeing signs of growth. The fastest growing area was energy, particularly ecologically friendly fuel and light. Sales of energy-efficient products grew 133 per cent to £1bn.

"These figures give a clear indication of where people are spending their money and what ethical spending decisions they are making. Transport is becoming the next important ethical issue and whether people will buy cars that are labelled 'green'," the ethical policy manager at the Co-op Bank, Barry Clavin said.