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.
1 Tony's Chocolonely Milk Caramel Sea Salt, $5, Tony's Chocolonely
Chocolate is delicious, but the treat has a
labor problem — not only do some brands use cheap labor, but some also source their cocoa from child labor. Enter Tony's Chocolonely, a brand committed to ethically-sourced chocolate production. The chocolate makes the perfect stocking stuffer. 2 BLK + GRN Balance Face Wash, $25, BLK + GRN
BLK + GRN partners with Black-owned brands to sell the best ethically sourced products on the market. They carry everything from jewelry to things for your home, and these products are sure to be a home run with anyone on your list.
3 Nisolo Cordoba Backpack, $228, Nisolo
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. 4 PACT Three-Quarter Sleeve Robe, $45, PACT
Loungewear is a fail-proof gift because everyone loves being comfortable. PACT, a brand based in Colorado, makes comfortable clothing that doesn't negatively impact the environment, or the workers who make the products.
6 Counter Culture Coffee Single-Origin Subscription, $30, Counter Culture Coffee
I'm coffee-obsessed, so anyone who got me a coffee subscription would stay on my nice list forever. Best of all, Counter Culture Coffee builds relationships with farmers and pays higher prices for its beans.
7 Brilliant Earth Diamond Bezel Bracelet, $150, Brilliant Earth
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.
8 Fair Indigo Wine Bottle Ornament, $25, Fair Indigo
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. 9 Bario Neal Bog Stud Earrings, $118, Bario Neal
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. 10 Higher Ground Roasters Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, $15, Higher Ground Roasters
This Alabama-based coffee company makes a great product and also has its priorities in the right place. All Higher Ground coffee is fair-trade certified, and the brand's coffee is grown with an emphasis on sustainability.
11 The Giving Keys Classic Key Necklace, $28, The Giving Keys
I've been a fan of The Giving Keys for a long time mainly because of their priorities. Every piece of jewelry is made by someone transitioning out of homelessness.
According to the company, over 100,000 hours of work have been generated thanks to orders. 12 Love Goodly Love Goodly Single Box, $35, Love Goodly
Love Goodly does the hard work for you and curates products from some of the best ethically sourced, cruelty-free beauty brands. You can sign up for a one-time subscription or get a monthly box.
13 Honest Pet Products Eco Rattler, $17, Honest Pet Products
Be honest. You probably like your pet more than you like most people. If you're getting them a gift this holiday season, check out Honest Pet Products. The company emphasizes sustainability and employs people with cognitive disabilities who need jobs.
14 SkullStore Oddity Shop Wolf Spider, $27., SkullStore
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." 15 MATT & NAT Charlotte Clutch, $80, MATT & NAT
If you're shopping for a loved one who avoids animal products,
MATT & NAT is a company to check out. Their vegan bags are made from recycled water bottles, and they encourage you to donate anything you haven't used in six months. 16 Naja Land Down Under Cheeky Knickers, $22, Naja
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.