Ethical Ethos



Ethical efforts in two supermarket stores situated in Brighton may be key to inspiring revolution nationwide. Regarding corporate social responsibility and sourcing stock; organic, regional cultivation of produce, minimal amounts of plastic packaging and reduced waste. Social enterprise HISBE, which stands for ‘How it should be’ is located in York Place whilst Infinity Foods lies in the heart of the North Laine. Both supermarkets claim of the benefits of consuming local food to the environment and the British economy. The latter which is in alignment with the government’s plan for public procurement goals.

Figures published in summer 2017 by the department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs state that due to the introduction of the 5p charge per plastic bag in all large shops; over nine billion fewer plastic bags were used since legislation was inaugurated in October 2015 – an 83% reduction. According to Greenpeace, plastic pollution is posing monumental impacts on the world’s oceans. Every year up to 12 million tonnes of plastic is making its way to the sea. Experts estimate plastic is ingested by 31 different marine mammals, 90% of seabirds and 1 in 3 turtles.


Policy released this year by the government department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs strategizes a 25-year environment plan to attain a green future. Reporting aims to minimise waste and reuse materials to reduce effects on the environment. This is hoping to be achieved by working to targets, one being the of elimination of avoidable plastic waste by the end of 2042. The Supermarket Iceland chain has pledged to remove plastic packaging from their own brand products by 2023. Increasingly food and drink outlets are seemingly conscious about the use of plastic straws, which may see these being replaced with biodegradable alternatives.

HISBE endeavors to source foods without packaging wherever possible. Large tubes of cereal, rice and pasta varieties stand tall central to the HISBE store. These are tap operated for customers to refill personal containers or the paper compostable bags provided. Quantities may be chosen by each shopper with the use of scales. The supermarket never throws away food that can be eaten. Similarly, Infinity Foods value little waste. Any unsold bread they donate to homeless shelters and recycling points are provided in store. Boxes which own-brand stock arrives in are returned to the warehouse to be repeatedly used, and their energy is sourced from green suppliers. The supermarket also gives a proportion of their profits to charities protecting Sussex wildlife.

Notions of equality and fairness are fundamental to Infinity foods and have been firmly rooted in their ethos since the shop was founded in 1971. The sustainable supermarket stock as wide a range of products with the ‘Fairtrade’ label as possible.  An independently audited consumer label that guarantees a fair deal for producers in less economically developed countries. Both Infinity Foods and HISBE are committed to prioritising local Sussex produce in an increasingly globalised food market. It is fresher – as it hasn’t had to be transported far, seasonal and nutritious. Being grown, harvested and traded all in one area reduces the environmental footprint and is also beneficial to the local economy and community.

The government’s plan for public procurement initiates the standards the public sector and suppliers are encouraged to follow when buying food and catering services. This plan focuses on working together with researchers, procurers, farmers and industry to support opportunities for British grown produce and food within the public procurement market. Food security is enhanced by sourcing food domestically in addition to receiving imports from various stable foreign regions. Amongst other reasons, 76% of shoppers therefore agree that it is important to support British farmers and 60% say that they try to buy British food whenever they can – according to the government department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

HISBE are anti intensive farming and prefer to source from local farms committed to traditional farming practices which respect the welfare of animals and value free range care, meat sourced is of high quality. Infinity Foods shop has one of the largest selection of organic and natural vegetarian and vegan foods in South East. Infinity Foods strongly support organic principles, believing that the use of fertilisers and pesticides in food production add harmful chemicals and toxins into food therefore affecting nutrition; it has a detrimental impact on the environment too. Equally, HISBE cares about the land and biodiversity and do not support soil eroding, water depleting farming methods.

Might ethical examples such as these pave the way for a future of sustainable supermarket shopping in the UK?

Another zero waste shop in the UK:


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