Now that Thanksgiving has passed, the holiday spirit is in full swing! This time of year is filled with love, gifts, baking, and hopefully snow. Gift lists are longer than they have ever been with expectations to buy for everyone including your second cousin’s husband’s uncle. It’s easy to get caught up with buying quantity or quality for those on our Christmas list with stocking stuffers and cheap little nicknacks made in sweatshops overseas. It’s easy to run through department stores and buy buy buy! Let me ask you a serious question – how much ends up in the trash or in a box deep in the basement?
I’ve always had the mentality that one quality, usable gift trumps a few little gifts. I’d rather spend more on one item that I feel good about purchasing for someone than a few stocking stuffers to up the ante on Christmas morning.
Even more so, what if your gift to someone was made ethically without child labor or awful work conditions? What if your gift helped out a small business here in the USA? What if your gift actually gave back to charities helping those in need? What if your gift was made with the health and longevity of the environment as a priority? Let me give you a hint – if the product you’re buying doesn’t tell you how it is doing more than just being a simple product, it’s not made responsibly. It’s most likely made in China or Indonesia by children working in sweatshops. It definitely doesn’t give back to any charity or help better our environment. It’s just a product in a package.
On a brighter side, these companies are made from eco-friendly or recycled materials, support a small local business, are ensured by bluesign® technologies , or are made to minimally empathy the environment.
- Patagonia – The obvious leader in ethical clothing and gear production, Patagonia does more than anyone to give back to our environment while self-evaluating all aspects of their production line from material sourcing to the consumers’ hands.
- Hip Mountain Mama – Women’s clothing, accessories, and beauty products made either in the USA or fair trade from Nepal or India with a free spirit feel.
- Alex and Ani Charity Collection – Charm bracelets that support many different charities of your choice.
- Soul Flower – Free spirited organic clothing styles for men and women that uses eco-friendly shipping materials.
- Prana – Men’s and women’s clothing made from organic cotton, recycled wool and polyester with fair trade and labor practices.
- Earth Hero – Carries everything from home&office goods to baby toys, electronic accessories to pet supplies.
What if in the act of gifting to a loved one you also helped out a person in need, an ecosystem at risk, or even an entire community? These companies go above and beyond to spread more good throughout the world.
- tentree – 10 trees are planted for every item sold. Men’s and women’s clothing and accessories.
- Toms – Every pair of shoes purchased puts a new pair of shoes on a child in need.
- Rice Love Bags – Every item sold provides 2.2 lbs of rice to a family in need. Rice Love trains women to sew creating valuable, safe jobs.
- 4Ocean – Buy a bracelet made from 100% recycled materials and pull 1 lb of trash from the ocean.
- Nisolo – Leather shoes and accessories produced in under-developed countries creating valuable jobs to people in need while also providing healthcare. Nisolo reduces their supply chain impact to offer fair prices to the end consumer.
- United by Blue – Sustainable clothing and outdoor gear for men and women. Each item purchased removes 1 lb of trash from the earths waterways and oceans.
- Wrappily – Recyclable wrapping paper printed on 100% recycled newspaper.
For this holiday season (and for the rest of the year) consider buying from a company that does more than just sell you a product. Really look at what went into crafting that item you are purchasing – Where is it made? How is it made? Who am I supporting by buying this? What materials were used? Do I really need this?
Join me in giving back this holiday season by gifting many with the thoughtful purchase of one item. I’ll leave you with just a few statistics.
- In a lifetime, the average American will throw away 600 times his or her adult weight in garbage. This means that each adult will leave a legacy of 90,000 pounds of trash for his or her (or other people’s) children. (Source: Boston College)
- The average American will still trash 81 pounds of unwanted garments this year, which equals 26 billion pounds of textiles annually added to landfills. (Source: takepart)
8 million tons of plastic trash makes its way into the ocean each year. (Source: Science Magazine) “This is equivalent to five large trash bags full of plastic trash, for every foot of coastline in the world,” says study co-author Jenna Jambeck, an environmental engineer at the University of Georgia.
- An estimated 250 million children ages 5 to 14 are forced to work in sweatshops in developing countries. Most of them are forced to work for 16 hours a day. The people who are forced to work in sweatshops must usually spend the majority of their paycheck on food in order for their household to survive. (Source: Brandon[Gaille])
- 98 million child labors work in Agriculture, 54 million in services, and 12 million in industry sectors. (Source: Vision Launch)
The above list of companies are my personal favorites, comment below with your favorite eco-friendly brands!
Disclaimer: None of these companies paid for or bribed me in any way to create this list. I have personally sought out companies that do more for others and our environment over the past few years as I have become more minimalistic and environmentally minded.