More people have been spending their money oneco-friendly giftsthis year, despite a precarious financial market and ongoing economic gloom.

The Co-operative Group’s Ethical Consumerism Report found individuals are still willing to shell out for products they believe help make the world a little bit better, and what’s more, the pull of the ’green pound’ has encouraged more companies to implement eco-friendly practices.

Food company Nestle, for example, followed Cadbury’s lead this year by introducing FairTrade chocolate into its KitKat range and Mars followed suit with its Maltesers brand.

Consumers have also used their spending power to invest in ethical banks and funds that refuse to capitalise in arms dealing or tobacco companies, turning instead to funding green technology and other ethical saving projects.

The Co-operative’s Barry Calvin implied that the trend of ethical consumerism has not appeared to slow despite the recession.

"The number of company conversions has been surprising. There was also a feeling at the start of the downturn that retailers would start pulling these things off their shelves and that has not happened. So it has become easier for consumers to buy them but more are also seeking them out," he added.

According to the report, FairTrade food sales rose by 36 per cent this year to stand at a total of £1 billion, compared to 2010. Ethical produce sales, such as Rainforest Alliance-certified food and drink, increased by 5.1 per cent to £6.6 billion, while total ethical spending rocketed to £46.8 billion - a significant rise from £13.5 billion when the data was first compiled in 1999.

And there are plenty of options available to those who would like to give eco-friendly products to their loved ones this Christmas, such as bamboo bed sheets, which the Huffington Post describes as having a few benefits over cotton.

"They are eco-friendly, allergen-free and temperature-regulating. Give a set to the troubled sleeper on your list for better ZZZs," the newspaper added.

Posted by Sam Wallace