25 Legally Purchasable Unethical or Controversial Items

Posted by , Updated on December 26, 2023

Some of you may get caught up on the word “unethical” here. The thing to note, however, is that we will obviously not all agree on what is ethical and what isn’t. For example, diamonds are on this list. To many people, buying diamonds is perfectly fine, but to others it isn’t fine at all. That is why this list includes “controversial” things. The question is, of course, which things are not ethical and which things are controversial? That depends largely on who you ask, but the answer is neither here nor there.

The important thing for the purpose of our list is to remember that there are plenty of things that can be legally bought, and some of those you would probably classify as being unethical. If not, then you would at least have to acknowledge that the ability to buy them is controversial to some extent. And as you probably already know, controversial topics always make for the best news stories. That is why today we are going to take a look at such controversial topics as something that would involve ethics. Having said that, these are 25 unethical or controversial things that can legally be bought!

Featured Image: thebluediamondgallery.com



LiceImage: wikipedia, Source: crabrevenge.com

This first item on our list might really surprise you. Yes. Yes, you can actually purchase lice. Although, we can only think of one thing you would buy lice for…revenge.


Human remains

Human remainsSource: dailymail

Although this is illegal in countries like the United States, there are definitely places where they can be bought.


A prison

A prisonImage: wikipedia, Source: bbc

For-profit prisons are an actual thing in several countries, and they’ve been around for a long time. You don’t need to think very long or hard about why this is a controversial topic.


Dog fighting supplies

Dog fighting suppliesImage: wikipedia, Source: wikipedia

From boat chains (for the dogs’ necks) to veterinary syringes, you can get everything legally.



GlitterImage: publicdomainpictures.net

Until you’ve spilled glitter, you won’t understand why it’s on this list.


Mail order brides

Mail order bridesSource: reddit

Yes, this is a real thing.



StyrofoamImage: wikipedia, Source: wikipedia

There are few things worse for the environment or humans for that matter as cancer research points to it being carcinogenic. In fact, starting January 2017, a strict ban on Styrofoam, with few exceptions, will go into effect in San Francisco.


Gold fish bowls

Gold fish bowlsImage: pixabay, Source: reddit, goldfishcareguide.com

Most of them are way to small; just imagine living in a space about the size of your bed. There are also oxygen levels and cleanliness to consider.


Patent rights to a drug for which you can increase the price by 5000%

Patent rights to a drug for which you can increase the price by 5000%Source: nytimes

Two words – Martin Shkreli.



CigarettesImage: wikipedia, Source: reddit

Although buying cigarettes can be compared to slavery (slavery to the cigarette), most people agree that selling cigarettes is ethically questionable. There are many stores in recent years that have actually stopped selling them. The store chains would rather forfeit the income than sell something considered unethical.


Human organs

Human organsImage: pexels, Source: wikipedia

Although organ transplants are an important aspect of every developed healthcare system, in some countries they are sourced from children. That is right, kids are harvested specifically for their organs.


Alarm clock cameras

Alarm clock camerasImage: wikipedia, Source: reddit

We all know what these are for…


Nestle Products

Nestle ProductsImage: wikipedia, Source: wikipedia

For those of you who don’t know, Nestle went to developing countries, told mothers that they should try their free baby formula instead of breastfeeding. Mothers did. Because they weren’t breastfeeding, their natural milk dried up. Now they relied on Nestle’s baby formula. Suddenly, Nestle started charging, so mothers couldn’t afford it. Babies died. In fact, Nestle products are banned from being sold on many university campuses.


Puppies from a puppy mill

Puppies from a puppy millImage: pixabay, Source: wikipedia

Dictionary definition of a puppy mill – an establishment that breeds puppies for sale, typically on an intensive basis and in conditions regarded as inhumane.


Shark fin soup

Shark fin soupImage: wikipedia, Source: wikipedia

They take their fins and dump the sharks overboard to starve.


Fake winning scratch-off tickets

Fake winning scratch-off ticketsImage: wikipedia, Source: reddit

These have been known to shatter dreams in a matter of seconds.


Endangered species

Endangered speciesImage: wikipedia, Source: wikipedia

Like Bluefin Tuna or Rosewood.



PoliticiansSource: reddit

Money talks. It’s sad but true.


Private detectives

Private detectivesImage: pixabay, Source: reddit

For the same reason as the alarm clock cameras…


White phosphorus

White phosphorusImage: wikipedia, Source: reddit

Disclaimer: chemical warfare is only a small fraction of what white phosphorus is used for. It’s has many other industrial applications, like toothpaste.


Positive pregnancy tests

Positive pregnancy testsImage: wikipedia, Source: reddit

It’s either for a prank, or blackmail.


Ivory products

Ivory productsImage: wikipedia, Source: dailymail

This is the elephant equivalent of shark fin soup.


The opportunity to shoot cows

Shooting cowsImage: wikipedia, Source: reddit

In some countries that shall not be named, you can pay to shoot a cow with a rocket launcher.


Gambling on people's life expectancy

Gambling on people's life expectancyImage: wikipedia, Source: dw.de

There was a financial product put out by Deutsche Bank at one point where you could do just that.



DiamondsImage: wikipedia, Source: businessinsider

Depending on who you ask, the conditions for those who mine and gather diamonds have either improved slightly or gotten worse slightly.