Trying to guess everyone's holiday wishlist is stressful, especially because shopping is particularly hectic this time of year. It can be easy to pick the first thing you see in-store without considering how its made. I'm guilty of not researching whether products are ethically sourced, and I'm not alone — research has shown that customers avoid learning about a product's origins so they don't have to deal with negative emotions. It can be hard to know where to start, but a surprising number of brands actually have ethical practices. Buying ethical-sourced holiday gifts isn't as difficult as it may seem, and the gift receiver will likely be grateful for your research.
According to Alexander Gillett, CEO of sustainable food rating company HowGood, buying ethical gifts doesn't have to be stressful.
"You can follow simple guidelines that get you a lot of the way there," he tells Bustle. If you're buying coffee, chocolate or some other kind of food as a gift, look for products that are fair-trade certified, he says. Gillett says most people don't think about the abysmal conditions that many workers face.
"Apathy tends to come from lack of awareness," he says. "We’re distant from most of the purchases we make. It’s hard to have this emotional response."
It is possible to buy ethically this holiday season — all it takes is a bit of patience and digging. You won't feel guilty about any of these purchases, either, so it's a win/win.
When you're ordering something that's been made in a factory, you often have no idea how it was actually produced. Tennessee-based leather goods company Nisolo pays all of its employees in Kenya and Peru 23 to 27 percent more than fair trade wage requirements, and also works with independent artisans to help them grow their skillset.
The Republic of Tea
Founded nearly two decades ago, The Republic of Tea says it feels a responsibility to "contribute positively to society on a global scale." The company partners with nonprofit organizations and creates fair-trade certified products — the perfect gift for the tea lover in your life.
Counter Culture Coffee
They say diamonds are a girl's best friend, but I don't know anyone who would turn down a sparkly gift, especially if it's ethically sourced. Brilliant Earth sells conflict-free diamonds but goes a step above and also makes sure suppliers have safe labor practices and aren't allowing human right abuses.
Fair Indigo was started by fashion industry employees to offer an alternative to fast fashion, which can be damaging to the environment and the people who make clothing. They offer a ton of products, including adorable handcrafted ornaments that are perfect for the season.
Bario Neal focuses both on ethical sourcing and human rights. A huge part of their mission, according to their ethics page: "undermin[ing] and eliminate the presumption of heterosexuality that pervades much of the wedding and jewelry industry." They also make a commitment to responsible labor and using recycled metal in their jewelry.
Higher Ground Roasters
The Giving Keys
Honest Pet Products
SkullStore Oddity Shop
Look, I don't have much of an interest in bugs dead or alive, but taxidermy is a relatively popular hobby. If you have someone on your shopping list who'd love a creepy gift, check out SkullStore. According to the company, they purchase "exclusively from sustainable sources, including indigenous peoples and strictly regulated hunting reserves."
Not only are these underwear a great stocking stuffer, but they also come from an awesome company. Naja "seeks to empower women instead of objectifying them," and the company employs single mothers and pays them a living wage.
It's okay if you're not able to buy ethical products — Gillett says its important to be kind to yourself. But if you have the time and money, buying ethically sourced presents can make a huge difference.
"Every time you buy something, you’re voting for the world you want to live in," he says. "You’re supporting a company that is improving people’s lives and ideally our planet as well, and you’re giving someone a gift they can enjoy."
Even people who procrastinate on gift shopping still have options thanks to online storefronts. Try to challenge yourself to buy at least one gift that's sustainable and ethically sourced — even a small step can create change.