Holiday shoppers in the US generate, on average, more than $3 trillion in retail sales during the Christmas season each year.

Photo by iStock/Getty

5 Super-Easy Ways to Use Your Holiday Dollars for Good

‘Tis the season to spend money! Whether you plan on opening your wallet a little or a lot, these handy apps help you sort the naughty companies from the nice.

The average American plans to spend $752 on Christmas presents this year. That frenzy of gift-buying nets corporations (including some naughty ones) hundreds of billions of dollars. During that four-week shopping spree, from Black Friday to Christmas Eve, it can be tough to find a moment to research where all your cash is going — and, by extension, what business practices your purchases might endorse. NationSwell selected five apps, all available for free in the iTunes App Store, to help you shop responsibly. After all, you don’t want to find coal in your stocking come Christmas morning, now do you?

1
See what other socially conscious consumers think

Scan a barcode, and OpenLabel will give you the crowd-sourced lowdown on the item in hand. The Yelp-like reviews — which touch on everything from environmental sustainability to labor practices — aren’t fact-checked, but a system of up-voting puts the most helpful reviews at the top. See an un-reviewed product? Add your own slant to the growing mix.

2
Support companies that support women

Data on gender equality is tough to find online. How many women hold leadership positions in a given company? How many weeks of maternity leave does a business’s policies guarantee? Does its advertising reinforce gender stereotypes? Buy Up Index Index has your answers. Use this app to determine whether 120 popular corporations are worthy of women’s purchasing power.

3
Know which political party you’re backing

With its ruling on the Citizens United case, the Supreme Court allowed independent political action committees to raise unlimited sums from corporations. (In the past year, these super PACs spent $1.1 billion to influence the election.) BuyPartisan, an app built by a former Capitol Hill staffer, compiles data on campaign contributions so you can see if a company’s CEO, board of directors or a corporate PAC is funding a candidate you oppose.

4
Join a campaign for change

Voting with your dollar is essential. But a company might not know you’re doing so, unless you explicitly tell them. On Buycott, you can join user-generated campaigns that will tell you which products to avoid. Whether the Koch Brothers or Kellogg’s are the objects of your ire, you’ll find plenty of others to join you in protest here.

5
Shop at ethically responsible companies

Worn out from all this research into the byzantine world of corporate ownership? DoneGood makes it easy to target mission-driven sellers. Select a value you prize — “green,” “locally sourced,” “gives back” — and you’ll see a list of businesses that match your criteria. Several vendors offer discounts if you find them through the app.

Chris Peak is a staff writer for NationSwell. He previously worked for Newsday, the San Francisco Public Press and the Point Reyes Light. Contact him at [email protected]