UK households spent almost twice as much on ethical goods last year as they did five years ago, a report from the Co-operative Bank has found.
Fewer people are going to charity shops to buy cheap clothes
The average British household spent £664 on ethical goods last year, up 81% on the £366 outlay in 2002, the annual report on ethical consumerism found.
Now worth £32.3bn, up 9% from 2005, the ethical economy is still a fraction of the £600bn annual consumer spend.
Only 6% of UK adults shop weekly for ethical products and services.
The biggest rise was seen in the ethical food and drink sector - which jumped 17% to £4.8bn from £4.1bn the previous year.
The average household spent £190 on ethical food and drink, including organic and Fairtrade products.
Growing awareness of the Fairtrade label boosted sales of goods such as tea, coffee and bananas by 46%.
"The market share for ethical food and drink appears to have broken through the 'green' glass ceiling of 5%," said Simon Williams, director of corporate affairs at the Co-operative Bank.
"Potentially we could see market share hit 10% in the next year or two," he added.
While sales of ethical clothing jumped 79%, cheaper clothes on the High Street and internet meant that customers deserted charity shops, which saw sales fall 13%.
Some consumers now avoid budget clothing outlets as low cost is seen as an indicator of poor labour conditions, the report noted.
Growing concerns about climate change are also having an impact on how people choose to spend their cash.
Households devoted £213 of their ethical spend to home products, including energy efficient light bulbs.
But households only spend £6 on renewable energy, the report added.