Ministers tell consumers to be more ethical when shopping

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Millions of families are being urged to choose fair trade products, ethical bank accounts and environmentally responsible holidays under plans to mobilise consumer power to help end poverty in the Third World.

Millions of families are being urged to choose fair trade products, ethical bank accounts and environmentally responsible holidays under plans to mobilise consumer power to help end poverty in the Third World.

A comprehensive guide to ethical consumerism will tell consumers that everyone can make a difference to the plight of the world's poorest nations.

The free Rough Guide to a Better World includes details on choosing a holiday which will not exploit the Third World, maximising the benefits of donations to charity and shopping for fair trade goods.

The £1m initiative, launched in the House of Commons this afternoon, is backed by the Live Aid founder Bob Geldof and includes contributions from the former Boyzone star Ronan Keating, Chris Martin of Coldplay and the broadcaster Jon Snow.

The 100-page booklet has been funded by the Department for International Development and produced by the publishers of the Rough Guide travel books. It includes guidelines on choosing a responsible tour operator, fair trade and allowing charities to claim tax refunds on donations.

It also includes details on voluntary charity work, and encourages people to promote Third World issues by joining letter-writing campaigns or working for organisations such as Amnesty International.

Advice on fair trade goods says: "You have the power to make a difference to the way international trade works.

"This doesn't mean going without; it's often a matter of redirecting where you spend your money. Taking action to influence change can be as simple as buying food that has been traded fairly, choosing green electricity, or opening an ethical bank account.

"If even 10 per cent of everyone's weekly shop consisted of fairly traded products, it would send a powerful signal to the multinational-dominated food industry that we, as consumers, are concerned about the people who grow our food."

Geldof wrote in a forward to the book: "I said back in the Eighties that to die of want in a world of surplus was not only intellectually absurd but morally repulsive. That still pertains.

"We will always have those doing better than others. That's normal, and good for them. What we don't always have to have is rules, language, laws, treaties and ideas with inbuilt bias towards our successful selves to their cost. That's not right and it need not be so. The cost of our success must not be the misery of others."

Gareth Thomas, the International Development minister, said: "There is so much interest in people wanting to make a difference and we wanted to set out the easy ways to do that. We are not telling people what to do, but we are giving advice if they want to help."

Chris Coe, deputy director of Oxfam, said: "This clear and concise guide will surely help all those people who want to alleviate poverty and suffering but don't know how."

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