It’s the holidays, which means it’s time to get shopping! Americans estimate they will spend an average of $885 on gifts this holiday season, higher than any projection since the 2008 recession. But instead of purchasing something destined to be ditched or quietly regifted, put your hard-earned dollars to good use on gifts that are truly sustainable, ethically produced and/or support good causes. Since greenwashing sometimes makes it difficult to determine which companies really have a double bottom line, we’ve done the work for you to ensure that the ones listed below are the real deal. Feel good about doing good by gifting from one of the companies listed below.
Uma’s oils, toners, masks and cleansers might look like something you’d buy in an upscale boutique — which makes sense, since they also supply essential oils to top beauty brands like Tom Ford and Estée Lauder — but you’re paying for more than luxe marketing. The company’s founder, Shrankhla Holeck, was born in India to a family known for its expertise in ayurvedic and holistic medicine, and Holeck launched her line of products to benefit women in the Central Indian community. All workers are paid fair wages on par with their male counterparts, in an effort to eliminate gaps in gender pay and encourage women to obtain freedom through financial independence. They also fund the local health clinic, where residents can obtain medical care free of charge.
Looking for an easy way to spark the spirit of donating to a cause in your less-than-charitable friends? Consider a gift card from Global Giving, which gives the recipient freedom to donate to a cause of their choice. Some of their most successful projects include education in Kenya via Kenya Connect, and support for life-saving vaccine programs in India. Other causes include disaster recovery, climate change and LGBTQ rights. The only catch: Gift cards expire after one year. Unused funds will be donated to the GlobalGiving Fund, which will be used to provide matching gift funds to causes listed on their site.
What’s a holiday party without wine? Essential to provide if you’re the host; a really nice gesture if you’re an invited guest. One Hope Wines partners with eight nonprofits benefiting animals, children, education, the environment, global, health, veterans and women. Since 2017, proceeds from purchases have facilitated the adoption of 19,000 shelter pets, provided meals for more than 399,000 children and the planting of about 16,000 trees. Not into wine? No problem: You can gift coffee, kitchen accessories or food items that benefit global causes, such as access to safe drinking water.
Most consumers want to buy sustainable and ethically produced goods. But while it’s easy to say you support a cause, it’s harder to prove you actually do so. Conscious Step actually walks the walk: All socks are made in India using sustainable, ethical production methods. The entire supply chain is GOTS and Fairtrade certified, and all products are made by workers who are paid minimum wage (and are compensated for overtime). Sales benefit one of 12 different causes, such as animal rescue, breast cancer prevention, treating HIV and fighting hunger.
This Seattle-based company was founded in 2008 by Louie Gong, an artist from the Nooksack tribal community. Though Gong started making shoes in his living room — and launched Eighth Generation’s brick-and-mortar store in Pike Place Market in summer 2016 — he wanted to ensure that indigenous artists also got the capital they needed to become successful. Through The Inspired Natives Project, Gong works with fellow natives who are weavers, graphic artists and jewelers to ensure proceeds from the sales of their wares go back to the community. The Inspired Natives Grant also ensures that 5% of profits from Eight Generation’s blanket sales go back to the artists, while also contributing to causes such as Standing Rock.
If you’re a parent who believes it’s never too early to instill altruistic values in your children, consider purchasing a box from Little Loving Hands that you can work on together. Each kit has a theme — such as Puppy Love, Military Gratitude and Wells of Love — and contain instructions on how to make items that benefit each cause, such as leash and treat bags for no-kill animal shelters, an American flag pin for troops stationed around the world, and a collapsible water bottle that can be sent to Water Wells for Africa, a non-profit dedicated to reducing health risks from contaminated water. After sending the finished product in a pre-paid envelope, your child will receive a button and certificate of achievement as a thank-you, as well as encouragement to continue paying it forward.
Purchase tea and help protect elephants? Or buy a sweater and save a puma? These days, it seems like everyone is selling products that also promote social good. Some of it is surely marketing mumbo-jumbo, but these guys are the real deal: The Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network’s “Wildlife Friendly” label guarantees that any product with that designation has been produced in an animal-friendly way. For example, tea with a “Wildlife Friendly” label is sourced from plantations that co-exist harmoniously with the elephants that roam their fields. Without this protection, elephants sometimes fall into drainage ditches or are poisoned by eating fertilizer. If walking lightly on the earth is something you aspire to, look for the label next time you shop.
Launched by a former ad executive who was sick and tired of promoting crap, BuyMeOnce is simple as it is brilliant: Every product they promote must be built to last. They also research the provenance of every item: If your titanium teapot was made by slave labor, then it’s a no-go, even if it’s built to outlast Methuselah. The 2000+ products on the site include everything from earbuds and kids’ toys to silicone straws and apparel. There are also handy categories to choose from, if the phrases Zero Waste or Lifetime Guaranteed align more clearly with your values.