Ethical finance was the biggest growth sector in a growing market for ethical goods and services, according to a report from the Co-operative Bank in conjunction with the Future Foundation think-tank.
Ethical spending by British consumers has reached a tipping point, the study finds, who now spend more on ethical goods and services than they do on cigarettes and alcohol.
During 2005, spending on ethical goods and services totalled £29.3 billion, up 11 per cent on 2004, while the retail market for cigarettes and alcohol stood at £28 billion.
But the biggest growth area was ethical finance, which rose from a market value of just £5.2 billion in 1999 to £11.6 billion in 2005.Co-operative Bank
has acted as a market leader in ethical financial offerings, refusing to lend customers' savings to companies involved in unethical activities including using child labour and manufacturing weapons.
More recent innovations include green mortgages from the Ecology Building Society, which will only lend for mortgages to people who will buy energy-efficient homes or renovate a derelict building.
A survey from the Ethical Investment Research Service in June 2004 found that two-thirds of people want their investments to be more socially responsible.
Learn more about ethical banking