Have the ethical credentials of businesses on the map been verified?
We're often asked if we verify the ethical credentials of businesses before they are included on the map. The answer to this is no and these are the reasons why.
Showcasing smaller businesses
Firstly in order to guarantee the ethical credentials of a business we would need to audit those businesses at regular intervals using independent third parties as is best practice when running an accreditation scheme. This can be an expensive exercise and we would have to ask businesses to pay to be verfied in this way.
A key reason for setting up Purple Dot was to showcase and promote smaller businesses who are doing their bit for people and planet and generally making our towns more interesting places to live through the independent, unique character they bring to their communities. For many of these businesses the cost of being part of an accreditation scheme is likely to be prohibitive and therefore we would not be able to make the Purple map as comprehensive as we would like.
Using existing ethical standards labels
Secondly there are already a variety of ethical standards organisations that run accreditation schemes for various products. If businesses sell products that have been verified by one of these schemes they can show this information on their map entry. If you want to check that the products from a particular business featured on the map have been accreditated you can check the product bears the logo of the relevant ethical standards label. In many cases running a new accreditation scheme would be duplicating these existing schemes.
Thirdly the mapping covers a lot of different ethical issues including environmental sustainablility, fair trade, strengthening local economies, animal welfare and concerns about the effects of chemicals on human health. Many of these issues are complex and overlapping and there is not necessarily a clear cut answer that everyone agrees on about what is the most ethical or sustainable choice in every circumstance.
We don't feel it is our place to try and make that judgement for people. Instead we let businesses declare their ethical commitments and allow you to choose who to buy from based on the criteria that matter most to you. Throughout the website we also provide background information and links to resources on many ethics topics which people can use to inform their decisions.
Asking for information
Of course some businesses could deliberately try and mislead people about their ethical credentials. However we feel that, as in any walk of life, the best way to check for dishonesty and misinformation is to talk to people and ask for more information where it seems lacking or confusing.
Most of the businesses on the map are small independent companies run by people who are just aiming to provide a service for their community and make a living themselves. So we encourage you to talk to them, to get to know your local business people and ask for more clarification on their ethical claims if you are uncertain about any of the information that they have provided.
That said we do want to ensure that the map is a useful resource. So when a business is submitted for inclusion on the map we do check that the information provided on the directory entry matches the ethical commitments shown by the business on their own website. Also we do reserve the right to moderate entries and in some cases remove or correct entries if inaccuracies are found.
In addition a business or brand will not be listed in the directory if we find it has been given a very poor rating by independent research organisations such as www.corporatecritic.org. This may be the case even if some of the products or services the business in question provides are approved by a relevant ethical standards label.