When I was a child, my mom was not a supporter of consumerism or materialism. She did not believe in buying name brands or staying up to date with the latest fad. For example, to her ‘sneakers’ (as she called gym/tennis shoes, she’s from New Jersey) were all the same whether they had a Nike logo on them or not. She was a major proponent of my sister and I making crafts for toys and coming up with creative games to keep us occupied. On Christmas mornings, before we opened any of the gifts under the tree, as a way for us to remember the reason for the season, we had to open the gift that ‘Jesus’ gave us first. That gift was simply a scripture that was selected for my sister and I to focus on for the upcoming year attached to a red rose.
I remember vividly, for one Christmas holiday when I was a pre-teen, my mom (who invited other families to participate) had us pass out gifts to teens living in a residential facility called Columbus Maryville that used to be located not too far from North Lakes Shore Drive in Chicago, Illinois. I remember going to a Goodwill event that sold unused and packaged items “shopping” for the gift that each young person requested. That year many of the youth at this residential facility wanted Walkman cassette players. Although, they did not get the Walkman brand, we did manage to get them a cassette player.
I am going to be totally honest, at times growing up, I wished my mom focused a tad bit more on keeping up with the latest brands and purchased those items that my sister and I requested without having to hear a lecture from her about how it is better to give than to receive or having to present a plan on the steps we would take to earn the item desired. As the holiday season quickly approaches, now I am so appreciative of how my mom handled this time of year. Her words and actions taught us the value of giving rather than receiving and serving rather than being served.
At this current time, some people are opting to boycott the holiday spending season for real and understandable reasons. For instance, choosing not to shop in American stores until policies are put into place to address police brutality towards African Americans or supporting certain types of businesses such as small, local or Black-owned businesses. For both of these alternative holiday spending options I am wholly in agreement to these methods to harness American consumerism and materialism. The issue, however, is not whether to spend or not spend. Let’s face it our economy needs the revenue generated from holiday spending. But, rather, being intentional to how we spend our money during the holiday season (and I would argue throughout the entire year).
This holiday season, I would like to encourage you to consider spending your money towards socially conscious products. I know that there may be some questions regarding, how much of the money received from such businesses go towards doing something good. I totally get that concern, but regardless of the percentage of money that these businesses choose to give towards good causes, one could argue that the amount determined and given to socially conscious enterprises is far better than making owners of major department stores and shopping chains richer. Below is the ultimate shopping guide for shopping socially responsible during this current holiday season, although this list is not all-inclusive, it is a good place to begin your socially conscious holiday shopping list.
Fair Trade Products: Supporting organizations that promote standards of environmentalism and fair wages as well as alleviate global poverty.
- Malia Designs: Fair-trade handbags and accessories; Mission: Every purchase helps fight human trafficking
- Sseko Designs: Footwear, leather bags and accessories; Mission: Send a girl to college
- Soles4Souls: Footwear and apparel; Mission: Fighting poverty via collecting and distributing shoes and clothing
- FEED Project: Bags, accessories and apparel; Mission: Fight against hunger
- Threads for Thought: Apparel; Mission: Produce ethical, sustainable fashion that helps improve the planet
- Bodhi Brand: Jewelry, accessories, and apparel; Mission: Provide an ethical shopping platform
- Ten Thousand Villages: Accessories, kitchen ware, home decor, spa and beauty, holiday, world and stationary; Mission: Create opportunities for artisans in developing countries to earn income by bringing their products and stories to markets through long-term, fair trading relationships
- Bead for Life: Jewelry and housewares; Mission: Provide business training and support so that women in Uganda who live in extreme poverty can rise and become entrepreneurs
- Raven & Lily: Eco-friendly jewelry, decor and accessories; Mission: Alleviate poverty among women; employ marginalized women at fair trade wages to give them access to a safe job, sustainable income, health care, education, and a real chance break the cycle of poverty for themselves and their families
- Local and Lejos: Home decor; Mission: Empower artisans to grow a business, preserve cultural traditions, and create sustainable futures for their families
Eco-Friendly: Products that keep your eco-friendly balance.
- Hand In Hand: Body products; Mission: Soap and clean water to those in need
- Epic Time Pieces: Watches; Mission: For every Epic timepiece purchase clean water to an individual in Haiti will be provided for through the distribution of water filters
- RuMe Bags: Reusable bags and accessories; Mission: Lifestyle brand that focuses on using less by reusing more
- WeWood: Watches; Mission: For each watch bought, a tree is planted
- United by Blue: Apparel, bags outdoor and home decor; Mission: To help heal our oceans by associating each product sold with the removal of one pound of trash from waterways
- Wildlife Works: Apparel and accessories; Mission: Harness the power of the global consumer to create innovative and sustainable solutions for wildlife conservation
- Indosole: Footwear and clothing; Mission: Repurpose products to address pollution
- Proof Eyewear:Eyewear; Mission: Provide eco-friendly eyewear
- Blukicks: Footwear; Message: To give and to raise awareness of endangered environments and habitats
- Nau: Apparel; Mission: Design sustainable and modern clothing that protects you in every environment, from the forest floor to the wilds of the city
- Bureo: Eco-friendly skateboards, apparel, eye wear and to-go wear; Mission: Support recycling, economic development and job growth for Chilean locals
Connecting: Profits are used to connect consumer to independent artists or service providers and promote community,
- BucketFeet: Footwear; Mission: Bring the work of street artist to larger audiences
- Threadless: T-shirts, sweatshirts, accessories and home items; Mission: Helping unknown artists to showcase their work to a larger audience
- Sankalpa Yoga Community: Every product is created by a different artist to represent a yogi, and every purchase made supports an independent yogi and artist
One-for-One: For every purchase made the same item is distributed to someone in need.
- Warby Parker: Eyewear; Mission: Via a partnership with VisionSpring for every pair of glasses sold, a pair is distributed to someone in need.
- Toms: Shoes, accessories and coffee; Mission: For each pair of shoes sold, a pair is given to someone in need
- Roma Boots: Footwear; Mission: Socially conscious ‘buy one give one’ boot company that merges fashion with philanthropy to help impoverished children around the world
- Better World Books: Books; Mission: Collect and sell books online to donate books and fund literacy initiatives worldwide
- Baby Teresa: Baby apparel and accessories; Mission: For each baby outfit sold one is donated to a child in need; for each accessory item sold a portion of the profits go to purchasing formula for babies in need
- AlphaPooch: Pet products; Mission: Provide one for one pet beds for animals in need
- Smile Squared: Toothbrushes; Mission: Provide tooth brushes for children in need
- Uncharted Play: Athletic equipment and Soccket; Mission: For every purchase one child gets access to an energy-generating play product and the Think Out of Bounds curriculum
- Bombas: Socks; Mission: For each pair of socks sold, another is donated to a homeless person
- Yoobi: School supplies, desk tools, notebooks, organizers and art supplies; Mission: For every Yoobi item you purchase, a Yoobi item will be donated to a classroom in need in the United States
- Bears for Humanity: Teddy bear; Mission: For every Bears For Humanity Teddy Bear purchased, a teddy bear just like it is donated to a child in need
- Everything Happy: Blankets, bags, gift sets and plush toys; Mission: Distribute Everything Happy products to children in hospitals and orphanages all over the world
Social Responsibility and Impact: Products sold for a social impact cause.
- Babies Love Peace: Apparel (baby, children, men and women) and housewares; Mission: Every purchase made helps to fund org, an international non-profit organization that provides protection, education and advocacy to tens of thousands of young children in conflict zones
- LEARNtheBrand Impact Apparel: Apparel (men and women); Mission: Rebranding the perception of education, promoting passion-driven learning experiences and funding organization that provide transformative learning experiences to learners of all ages
- Leaders1354: Apparel, shoes and accessories; Mission: Where the brand name does not matter but the message is everything; Promoting leading over following and being responsible for who you are regardless of one’s background and circumstances
- KoZ: Hats; Hats; Mission: A cause-based hat company that supports global change; consumer chooses the cause
- I Am A Star: Apparel; Mission: Providing relief in Somalia, and shining a light on a culture of poets, artists, mothers and fathers, children, innovators, farmers, businesspeople…human beings; purchasing a t-shirt helps support Somalian famine survivors
- Sevenly: Apparel; Mission: Raise capital and awareness for a different charity every week of the year
- 147 Million Orphans: Apparel; Message: Impact the lives of children affected by the orphan crisis by providing for their basic needs
- Baking for Good: Bake goods; Message: An online bakery that supports the cause of choice
- You and Who: Apparel; Mission: Sell one-of-a-kind designer t-shirts that help worthy causes in cities across the country
- Twice as Warm: Accessories; Mission: Provide winter clothing to people in need
- Senhoa: Jewelry; Mission: Support vulnerable persons and survivors of human trafficking through prevention, rehabilitation and advocacy programs; provide funding and capacity building through long-lasting partnerships to establish sustainable programs that serve underprivileged women and children
- Delicate Fortress Creations: Accessories, apparel, children, home decor, men, stationary and skin care; Mission: Empower women and advocate for artisans
- One World Play Project: Athletic equipment, apparel, accessories and posters and prints; Mission: Recognize the power of play to help individuals and communities thrive and transform themselves and the world
- The Empowerment Plan: A convertible coat that transforms to a sleeping bag; Mission: Educate, employ, and empower homeless individuals to create a better life for themselves and their families while producing a humanitarian product for those in need
- The Bleu Collection: Apparel; Mission: Provide youth with opportunities to discover their potential and find their future
- Ever Maya: Handbags, pillow covers and lamp shades; Mission: A portion of every sale made will be donated to Education for the Children, a non-profit dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty for disadvantaged children in Guatemala
- My Block, My Hood, My City: Apparel; Mission: Pomote travel, diversity, and City pride in Chicago
Crowd funding/Microloan/Stocks: Lending platforms to fund projects for social good and investing in financial futures of others.
- Kiva: Empower people for as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world; Mission: Connect people through lending to alleviate poverty
- Kiva Zip: Providing 0% interest loans for social good; Mission: Support small businesses with 0% interest loans and enable them to access the capital they need to grow their businesses
- Sparkgift: Investing in a family or friends financial future for as little as $20.00; Mission: Change the way we relate to gifting; Rather than just creating a moment of delight, Spark believes a gift can be a more meaningful, longer lasting experience
Socially Responsible Online Marketplaces
- Latch Company: Women, men, home goods and groceries; Mission: Spread the word about great companies doing great things; Discovering socially conscious companies selling amazing products while benefiting an excellent humanitarian cause
- Shop with Meaning: Connect consumers with companies that support worthy causes; highlight companies across the globe that provide consumers with a tangible opportunity to support worthy causes through everyday purchases
I hope this list provides some ideas on how to use the holiday season to make a positive impact. So, avoid the crowded shops, plan and purchase ahead and find great satisfaction knowing that the money you spend is making a great difference in the lives of others. The reason for the season is serving, giving, spending time with loved ones, and bringing a smile to those who you may not know. If you have any suggestions to offer, leave the information about a socially responsible product or service in the comments section. Feel free to share; sharing is caring.
Disclaimer: The products and the companies included in this blog post are not endorsed by Learning Dimensions or any affiliate organizations; Learning Dimensions is receiving no financial compensation from the businesses highlighted; Learning Dimensions is not held liable for any products or services provided by companies mentioned in this blog post; the purpose of this blog post is to provide information to be used at the reader’s discretion.
Photo Credit: Mac9416, Christmas Present