How to Become a Conscious and Ethical Consumer This Holiday
You have the power to make a meaningful impact on humanity’s 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.
- Shop Local and Small Businesses
There are many benefits to gain when you choose to shop from local and/or small businesses. Local 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. Holiday 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.
It’s a win for the planet and the local economy, when you choose to shop locally and with small businesses, rather than big box retailers.
- Shop From Ethical Brands and Retailers – Ethical brands and retailers, that are truly socially and ethically conscious, typically sell products made with the following:
- organic and natural materials
- sustainable materials
- recyclable materials
- chemical free materials
- cruelty free materials, which are not tested on animals
They also practice green manufacturing with zero waste and they support fair trade.
There are certifications, that may be product specific, which you may be interested in when buying. This includes the following certifications:
- Global Organic Latex Standard (certifies that latex products come from organically grown latex sap, from trees grown free of chemicals, fertilizers, and pesticides)
- Greenguard Gold (certifies that products meet certain standards for low emissions of VOCs and other chemicals)
- USDA Organic (certifies that products have met the organic standards of the USDA)
- Forest Stewardship Council (certifies that wood and forestry products are responsibly managed and that they provide benefits to society, the planet, and the local economy)
- Global Organic Textile Standard (certifies that clothing, fabrics, and textiles have met their organic standards)
Certifications 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.
- Give to Companies that Give Back
Consider 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.
For example, PlushBeds offers Green Scholarships to those pursuing green degrees and they support The Autism Society, along with many other charitable organizations.
Toms, 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.
Another 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.
Other companies to consider include:
- Warby Parker (gives a free pair of eyeglasses for every pair purchased)
- Better World Books (supports various literacy causes through literacy grants and book donations)
- WeWood (plants a tree for every watch purchased)
- The Company Store (provides blankets to the homeless)
And 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.
- Research Products and Businesses
Research claims from companies that claim to use organic and healthy materials and that claim to have green manufacturing processes. This step may take a little more time when you’re shopping for holiday purchases, but it can make you feel more confident of the buying decisions you make.
Consider the following:
- Look for brands whose supply chain is transparent
- Ingredients used in making products
- Specifics of the manufacturing process
- Facts about jobs created, and whether business is paying fair living wages
- Environmental footprint of the business
- Look for ethical brands who support fair trade
Taking 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.
- Consider Donating To Charity or Giving Experiences, Rather than Possessions
Instead 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.
Also, consider gifting experiences. Experiences create memories that will last a lifetime – long after the last bit of holiday pie has been eaten and the decorations have been put away.
Experiences to consider might include:
- Going on a spa weekend with mom
- Going on a skiing or snow tubing trip
- Taking a sleigh ride or carriage ride with the family
- Attending a holiday concert together
- Visiting a museum together
- Attend a sports event together
- Volunteering together
It doesn’t matter what the experience is so much as it is an experience you share with the people you love.
Other Things You Can Do to Be a Conscious and Ethical Consumer This Holiday Season
There 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.
- Use recyclable shopping bags
- Wrap presents with recyclable paper or fabric
- Reduce, reuse, upcycle, and recycle (create gifts by giving old items new purpose or buying items made from recycled materials)
- Choose products with reduced packaging (less waste is good for the planet and conserves resources)
Spending some time to take the steps listed above can leave you feeling great about your holiday buying choices this holiday season and beyond.
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