We like to think we’re a conscientious team at Magenta, so we’re always keen to learn more about how we can help look after the world. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll likely know this already.
Some examples of the actions we’ve taken as a business, are to offset our emissions, go green with our office energy and provide education and options to our clients about putting their money into ‘positive impact’ investments, which means directing investments towards companies that do good in the world and minimising the amount of money going to those who do harm.
A little while back we took another step on this journey by subscribing to Ethical Consumer magazine, after one of our lovely clients made us aware of its existence. The not-for-profit magazine has been going since 1989 and its mission is to make consumers aware of how ethical (or not) companies are in providing their goods and services.
So today, with the Spring Bank Holiday on the horizon and with many of you no doubt looking forward to relaxing with a beer – we are straying from a specific financial planning topic to talk about ethics of breweries! We thought this may be quite fun and we know many of you enjoy a tipple!
In their latest issue, the Ethical Consumer magazine has focused on breweries and ranked them from most to least ethical.
We’ve taken the below table from the magazine.
This snapshot shows the options that get a green rating from the publication:
And here are the orange and red ones:
The rankings incorporate a whole host of factors, such as the carbon emissions in making and transporting the beer, the type of packaging used, whether the creation processes is vegan-friendly, the treatment of staff and workers’ rights, whether they avoid tax and whether they fund certain negative political activity, amongst others.
Interestingly, the first thing that jumps out is there are very few household names appearing near the top of the list. This shows that if you want to be as ethical as you can be when drinking (responsibly!), you may have to forego the cheaper and more recognisable options.
The magazine also recently rated the supermarkets from which you could buy these beers and it is a very similar story. If you want to be as ethical as you can in where you shop, you need to go somewhere specialist. The well-known supermarkets appear far down the list, which perhaps helps explain why they are able to sell goods at lower cost and be very profitable.
It is good to remember that shopping at a supermarket is not your only option. You could visit one of the many craft beer shops springing up in towns and cities all around the country. One has just opened on the high street around the corner from our office in Bridgend – shout out to Frank and Alfie’s on Caroline Street.
Most of the craft beers you will find stocked in these shops are more ethically-sound than the offerings from the large-scale brewers in supermarkets. An added bonus of buying from an independent craft beer shop is that you will be helping support small business on the high street.
The rankings are only the opinion and interpretation of research conducted by one magazine, albeit one with a huge amount of experience and knowledge in this area.
Whilst the not-so-ethical standing of the mainstream brewers and supermarkets is fairly depressing news in and of itself, we think there are two very good reasons for optimism.
Firstly, these specialist breweries and shops are raising the bar for the mainstream and showing that it can be done. These independents are coming in with a clean slate and much less financial backing and are proving that you don’t have to cut corners to be profitable and do it in a responsible and sustainable way.
Second, with ever-growing awareness of how we live our lives and the impact this has, we think ranking in a league table such as this will put pressure on the main players in all markets to up their game. It is highly unlikely that they can solely concentrate on profiteering and cheap supply chains in future, without running the real risk of public sentiment turning against them, with damaging consequences. We really believe that in coming years this will all change!
You only have to see recent examples of people power influencing matters such as the European Football Super League abandonment or Boohoo committing to reviewing its whole supply chain and making drastic changes to it, in the wake of allegations of modern slavery at supplier factories.
We think the work the magazine has done, and continues to do, is important and needed more than ever, so we support it. Next time you come into the office for your annual review meeting, you should see the latest edition of the magazine in our client area, so do feel free to have a read of it. You can also visit their website https://www.ethicalconsumer.org/
In the meantime, we hope you relax and enjoy yourself this bank holiday weekend with social restrictions lifting further. If you’re planning to buy yourself some beer to do it with, you’re now armed with the information about the more ethical places to do so and the options to go for!
We really look forward to welcoming you back to our offices, when the time feels right for you.