The one sentence summary
Sales of ethical products are increasing while those brands that ignore ethics are declining.


• The new empowered consumer is using the pound in their pocket to make a point, not just a purchase. Ethical marketing isn’t just about environmentalism, it’s far bigger than that.
• Brand ethos is essential to a healthy modern brand. Reputation is more important than logos. We need to make less and destroy less. Reuse and repair, not replace. As the phrase goes: Away? There is no away.
• It’s not what you say, but what you do. Use absolute honesty to avoid anti-brand wash or brand terrorism, in which companies are hijacked by knowledgeable consumers exposing their flaws. This is often called eco-dirt or an ethical Achilles heel, and most companies have them. It’s when they adopt greenwash or ethical wash that the problems start.
• Successful companies can afford to support communities and help charities. Profit is good. There is a financial gain to environmentalism. Tell businesspeople that they can save the planet and they look at you blankly. Tell them they can save money and their eyes light up.
• KEVs are Key Ethical Values which can be expressed on an Ethical Sphere (see diagram).
• “All this buy one get one free, this 3 for 2 stuff really winds me up. It’s just a way of inflating prices to encourage excessive consumption. We’ve come up with a really good alternative which we’re very excited about. It’s called buy one get one.” Mark Constantine, CEO, Lush cosmetics


• When it comes to the debate about whether individuals can actually make a difference, the advice is:
1. Tell people what you want them to do (they need leadership) but keep it simple.
2. Tell people what can be achieved if lots of people did lots of little bits (because many think they can’t make a difference alone).
3. Make it socially acceptable, part of anyone’s lifestyle rather than just for people who go to church or are tree huggers.
• The R&E line spans rational to emotional. It’s tempting to use logical or factual eco-ethical propositions but they don’t engage. Emotional ones result in more impulse actions (see chart).
• In the geography of needs, people usually approach me, my family and community as a case of “We’re responsible.” When it comes to the planet, they are more likely to say: “They’re responsible.”


  • This book was first published in 2009, so a lot has happened since.