Alison’s Guide to Ethical Holiday Shopping

1 December 2015   |   Alison Streacker

Alison Streacker is a recent graduate who supports the Fairtrade America Outreach Team. She is an avid ethical shopper and has put together a handy gift guide for anyone looking to make their holiday giving a bit more sustainable.

As a chronic gift-giver and lover of all things sustainable, ethical, and fair, I’m always on the lookout for companies and brands that “do good.” This may range from paying farmers and workers a fair price for their product to environmentally sustainable business practices. The holiday season is the perfect time of year to share what I love – products that do good – with family and friends in the form of gifts.

What makes you choose the products you purchase throughout the holiday season? Is it the Black Friday discount price, or the story behind it? Think about it. It’s not just about the sales or giving the best gift, it’s about education, consumer empowerment, and doing good… all at the same time! As it is my first holiday season with Fairtrade America, I’ve already begun planning what I’m buying and why.

Here are my top 8 gifts this season:

  1. Reflective Images Jewelry has released the first line of Fairtrade certified gold jewelry in the US – all the better to surprise your special someone! Not only do they source Fairtrade certified gold, but also recycled metals and ethically sourced gemstones. What’s not to love?
  2. A classic favorite to take to any holiday party: Fairtrade wine. See here for a list of Fairtrade wines. And, don’t forget to dress it up with a hand-made gift bag or fancy corkage!
  3. Looking to shop close-to-home? Ten Thousand Villages, non-profit and member of the World Fair Trade Organization, has been selling ethically sourced and fair trade goods in their stores for nearly 60 years. They sell products from all around the globe ranging from jewelry to home goods, and there might be a store near you!
  4. Stocking stuffers are my favorite part of Christmas. Who doesn’t love customized ornaments and holiday candy from grandma? Personally, I always have lip balm in my stocking. Lasting Smiles lip balm, certified Fairtrade and organic, provides a child with cleft lip or palate surgery for every 1,000 lip balms sold. An amazing story behind a product, now available in stores such as Walgreens and Whole Foods.
  5. Everyone has a coffee lover in their life, from coworkers to school teachers and your next door neighbor. Kicking Horse Coffee offers a wide range of Fairtrade coffee and cool swag like travel mugs and home brewing supplies. Shop in-store on online! I would personally recommend pairing it with a hand-crafted Guatemalan ceramic mug from Lucia’s Imports. These mugs come from some of the best artisans in the fair trade realm, and they are beautiful.
  6. More and more people are considering where their clothing comes from, and ethical fashionistas are stepping up their game, even for babies! Burt’s Bees Baby and Dhana, Inc. have Fairtrade certified cotton clothing for babies and kids; perfect for expecting parents and Christmas kiddies.
  7. Today’s youth are the future of consumption, and to me, they need to understand the importance of sustainable and ethical production now. Kizazi recently launched their Indiegogo campaign for Fairtrade certified soccer balls, an easy way to teach kids about who makes their favorite sports ball. Contribute now and you might just receive your soccer ball before the holidays (see terms and conditions online).
  8. Last but not least, chocolate. Divine Chocolate, a company near and dear to my heart, has custom chocolates for Chanukah and Christmas this year. They also have Fairtrade hot chocolate, great with a pinch of cayenne pepper to spice up your chilly nights.

The list could go on and on, but buying ethically sourced products isn’t always easy. With that being said, do your homework! Look for companies, brands, and products that align with your beliefs. Take it upon yourself to dig deeper and find the story behind what you’re buying. Use it as an education tool, share your findings, and do good this holiday season.

Tweet us at @FairtradeMarkUS and share your favorite ethical holiday goodies! Join our Twitter Chat on Tuesday December 8 at 2pm ET and talk with others about this very topic.

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