You have the power to make a meaningful impact on humanity\u2019s greatest challenges, particularly during the holiday season. There are things you can do that will make your purchases better for the planet and humanity, as you shop.\r\n\r\n \t Shop Local and Small Businesses\r\n\r\nThere are many benefits to gain when you choose to shop from local and\/or\u00a0small businesses.\u00a0Local shops and small businesses tend to carry a wider variety of items that are ethically made, rather than mass produced items that exploit resources and populations in the manufacturing process.\u00a0Holiday markets are great places to look since you can buy directly from the makers of the products. There are some great small businesses which sell online, directly to you, as well.\r\n\r\nIt\u2019s a win for the planet and the local economy, when you choose to shop locally and with small businesses, rather than big box retailers.\r\n\r\n \t Shop From Ethical Brands and Retailers -\u00a0Ethical brands and retailers, that are truly socially and ethically conscious, typically sell products made with the following:\r\n\r\n\r\n \torganic and natural materials\r\n \tsustainable materials\r\n \trecyclable materials\r\n \tchemical free materials\r\n \tcruelty free materials, which are not tested on animals\r\n\r\nThey also practice green manufacturing with zero waste and they support fair trade.\r\n\r\nThere are certifications, that may be product specific, which you may be interested in when buying. This includes the following certifications:\r\n\r\n \tGlobal Organic Latex Standard\u00a0(certifies that latex products come from organically grown latex sap, from trees grown free of chemicals, fertilizers, and pesticides)\r\n \tGreenguard Gold\u00a0(certifies that products meet certain standards for low emissions of VOCs and other chemicals)\r\n \tUSDA Organic\u00a0(certifies that products have met the organic standards of the USDA)\r\n \tForest Stewardship Council\u00a0(certifies that wood and forestry products are responsibly managed and that they provide benefits to society, the planet, and the local economy)\r\n \tGlobal Organic Textile Standard (certifies that clothing, fabrics, and textiles have met their organic standards)\r\n\r\nCertifications can help you identify gifts that you will feel proud to give the people who matter most to you, even if you're buying a gift for yourself.\r\n\r\n \t Give to Companies that Give Back\r\n\r\nConsider purchasing gifts from companies that give back. Knowing that a brand, from which you choose to buy, helps others, makes the gifts that much better.\r\n\r\nFor example, PlushBeds offers Green Scholarships to those pursuing green degrees and they support The Autism Society, along with many other charitable organizations.\r\n\r\nToms, a popular shoe company, offers a free pair of shoes for every pair purchased to children in need in countries like Argentina, Ethiopia, Kenya, India, and Haiti.\r\n\r\nAnother example is Amazon. They allow you to choose the charity you wish to donate to from an extensive list of options when you participate in the Amazon Smile program. Then, when you make purchases through the AmazonSmile program, 0.5 percent of your purchase price will be donated to the charity you selected.\r\n\r\nOther companies to consider include:\r\n\r\n \tWarby Parker (gives a free pair of eyeglasses for every pair purchased)\r\n \tBetter World Books (supports various literacy causes through literacy grants and book donations)\r\n \tWeWood (plants a tree for every watch purchased)\r\n \tThe Company Store (provides blankets to the homeless)\r\n\r\nAnd there are countless others to choose from. Of course, you can do your own research with your favorite businesses to see which causes they support and how your purchases can help forward those initiatives.\r\n\r\n \t Research Products and Businesses\r\n\r\nResearch claims from companies that claim to use organic and healthy materials and that claim to have green manufacturing processes.\u00a0This step may take a little more time when you\u2019re shopping for holiday purchases, but it can make you feel more confident of the buying decisions you make.\r\n\r\nConsider the following:\r\n\r\n \tLook for brands whose supply chain is transparent\r\n \tIngredients used in making products\r\n \tSpecifics of the manufacturing process\r\n \tFacts about jobs created, and whether business is paying fair living wages\r\n \tEnvironmental footprint of the business\r\n \tLook for ethical brands who support fair trade\r\n\r\nTaking the time to do this research will give you peace of mind about your purchases and your own role in helping others down the road or around the world.\r\n\r\n \t Consider Donating To Charity or Giving Experiences, Rather than Possessions\r\n\r\nInstead of buying gifts, many people choose to donate to charitable organizations, in honor of loved ones, during the holiday season. Do some research into charitable organizations that support causes in which your loved one believes and make a donation in their name. This is a gift that will make a long lasting difference not only in your hearts, but in the lives of others in need during the holidays.\r\n\r\nAlso, consider gifting experiences. Experiences create memories that will last a lifetime \u2013 long after the last bit of holiday pie has been eaten and the decorations have been put away.\r\n\r\nExperiences to consider might include:\r\n\r\n \tGoing on a spa weekend with mom\r\n \tGoing on a skiing or snow tubing trip\r\n \tTaking a sleigh ride or carriage ride with the family\r\n \tAttending a holiday concert together\r\n \tVisiting a museum together\r\n \tAttend a sports event together\r\n \tVolunteering together\r\n\r\nIt doesn\u2019t matter what the experience is so much as it is an experience you share with the people you love.\r\nOther Things You Can Do to Be a Conscious and Ethical Consumer This Holiday Season\r\nThere are other things you can do to make more ethical and conscientious buying decisions throughout the holiday season. Small changes like these can have a huge impact on the planet, the people around you, and how you feel about your holiday shopping experiences.\r\n\r\n \tUse recyclable shopping bags\r\n \tWrap presents with recyclable paper or fabric\r\n \tReduce, reuse, upcycle, and recycle (create gifts by giving old items new purpose or buying items made from recycled materials)\r\n \tChoose products with reduced packaging (less waste is good for the planet and conserves resources)\r\n\r\nSpending some time to take the steps listed above can leave you feeling great about your holiday buying choices this holiday season and beyond.\r\nLink to Us!\r\nIf you found this article useful and shareable, please copy and paste the following into the html code of your website or blog: Learn More About Going Green at the <a href"https:\/\/www.plushbeds.com\/blog\/green\/5-things-you-can-do-to-be-a-conscious-ethical-consumer-this-holiday-season\/">PlushBeds Green Living Blog<\/a>.