The Unofficial Guide to Ethical Holiday Gift Guides

Welcome to the unofficial guide to ethical holiday gift guides, featuring guides from Factory45, ScoutMob, Fair Trade USA, Greenheart Shop, ShopEthica, Made in A Free World, and more.

The holiday shopping season has officially started. Starting this week, the American buy-a-thon commences with Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, Giving or Fair Trade Tuesday, and so on. For both big box retailers and small businesses, the time between Black Friday and Christmas marks enormous business opportunities—to the tune of over $12 billion spent in 2013.

Over the last several years, consumers both in the US and elsewhere increasingly are interested in where their food, clothing, and other products come from and how they were made. Many want their purchases to align with their values, which in part explains the meteoric rise of social enterprises, the buy-one-give-one model of TOMS, and environmentally conscious brands even at mainstream companies such as the Made to Matter line at Target.

This holiday season, ethical shopping for your loved ones can be easy, fun, and rewarding. I’ve researched a number of existing guide guides for the 2014 season and shared some of the highlights to cut to the chase so you can spend more time with family and friends than Googling gifts for said family and friends.

This list will continue to be amended and updated over the next week or so as additional gift guides are published online. Also, if you’ve come across other guides currently not listed, please comment to share so I can add it to the list. Happy holidays everyone!


Image credit: Factory45.co 

Image credit: Factory45.co 

Factory45 List of 50 Small Businesses to Support on Black Friday

About: Factory45 is a six-month accelerator program for independent designers, makers, and entrepreneurs focused on sustainability and made in the USA. Founder Shannon Whitehead created the 2014 list of 50 small businesses to support on Black Friday, a follow-up to her popular post last year on 50 things to do on Black Friday other than shop. Check out some of the social entrepreneurs and designers in on the Factory45 blog here and learn more about the program here.

Items: 50 fashion and accessory brands that believe in ethics, sustainability, and transparency

Favorite Item: Wild Mantle, a sustainable fashion social enterprise founded by fellow StartingBloc Social Innovator Avi Loren Fox that creates MANTLES, luxurious hood-scarves woven sustainably in the USA. Check out their Kickstarter campaign here and the hashtag #TakeUpTheMantle.

Link: www.factory45.co/black-friday

Image credit: ScoutMob

Image credit: ScoutMob

ScoutMob Gifts for Everyone on Your List

About: ScoutMob is an online marketplace for independent makers, craftspersons, entrepreneurs, and artisans, as well as a resource for local events and shops. Think of it as the local craft fair for the 21st century.

Items: ScoutMob has an entire microsite of gifts for various people and types in your lives. For instance, there are specific gift guides for men, women, children, wine-lovers, and more.

Favorite Item: These Custom Etched Glass Scotch Glasses ($36) since my husband likes scotch (I think it tastes like rubbing alcohol!)

Link: www.scoutmob.com/t/gifts

Image credit: Fair Trade USA

Image credit: Fair Trade USA

Fair Trade USA Holiday Gift Guide

About: Fair Trade USA is a nonprofit organization and third-party certifier of fair trade products in the United States. Each year, the organization creates a helpful and fun holiday gift guide with some of their favorite fair trade gifts. Check out the full guide here.

Items: 12 fair trade items from rugs to clothing to specialty food items

Favorite Item: Patagonia yoga pants/leggings ($59) because they look irresistibly comfortable and the purchase helps factory workers in India build schools and health clinics, create scholarships, and invest in other aspects of their community.

Link: www.fairtradeusa.org/holidays

Image credit: Greenheart Shop

Image credit: Greenheart Shop

Greenheart Shop Gift Guides

About: Greenheart Shop is Chicagoland’s premier shop for fair trade, sustainable, and eco-friendly goods. This year, the staff at Greenheart put together a number of gift guides for the holiday season: for hosts and hostesses, travelers, foodies, locavores, women, men, and more.

Items: Dozens of fair trade, sustainable-made, and eco-friendly products in each category

Favorite Item: Eco-Cork Cheese Coasters ($13) made in Chicago

Link: http://blog.greenheartshop.org/category/greenheart-shop-tips-and-tricks/greenheart-shop-gift-guides/

Image credit: ShopEthica

Image credit: ShopEthica

ShopEthica The Conscious Shopper’s Guide: Black Friday, Cyber Monday, & Holiday Sales

About: ShopEthica is an online retailer where you can learn about ethical fashion, discover emerging designers, and shop a high-style selection of ethical and sustainable labels. While I’ve never purchased anything from the site, I’ve learned a lot about new trends and resources in the sustainable fashion sector.

Items:  This guide for conscious shoppers during the holiday season is less a curated list of ethically-made products and more a thoughtful guide to how to navigate this season consciously and ethically.  

Favorite Item: It isn’t an item, but my favorite point from ShopEthica’s guide is to set intentions for your closet so you don’t get carried away in the holiday boom and bust.

Discounts: Get $20 off your first order of $50+ from ShopEthica for joining their mailing list!

Link: www.shopethica.com/features/conscious-shopping

Image credit: Made in A Free World

Image credit: Made in A Free World

Made in A Free World

About: Made in A Free World is a nonprofit social enterprise that raises awareness about modern slavery and human trafficking and consults with businesses to leverage their purchasing power to end slavery in their supply chains. Many of you may know of the organization for their viral online tool, the Slavery Footprint app, which has calculated “how many slaves work for you” for over 22 million people based on their consumption habits. The organization recently launched a new software tool for businesses called FRDM™ (Forced Labor Risk Determination & Mitigation).

Items: Discounted items and coupon codes for the first cohort of companies to collaborate with Made in A Free World's FRDM™ tool

Favorite item: Popinjay purses and clutches

Link: www.madeinafreeworld.com/holiday 

Photo Credit: The Art of Simple

Photo Credit: The Art of Simple

The Art of Simple Holiday Gift Guide

About: The Art of Simple (formerly Simple Mom) is a site devoted to simple and sustainable living. The main voice and founder of the platform Tsh Oxenreider has written several books on intentional, simple living and now is traveling around the world with her young family and living simply—international style! Also check out the Art of Simple's all-occassion ethical shopping guide here.

Items: Various items for kids (of all ages), hosts, grandparents, adults, etc.

Favorite item: The Live FashionABLE scarf that supports a social enterprise empowering women entrepreneurs worldwide 

Link: theartofsimple.net/gifts


Other Notable Gift Guides