Shop with purpose and feel good about your gifts this season!
If you love giving meaningful gifts with purpose, but don’t have time to curate a well-researched list of fair-trade, handmade options for the special someone on your list, I’ve got you covered! These days fair trade boutique gifts are all the rage, and with great reason–during a season where spending and giving gifts are the norm, it is difficult for those with an eco-lifestyle to feel comfortable buying products that may contribute to waste, pollution, or the unsustainable destruction of natural resources. When shopping becomes an avenue for helping others, and you can be sure your dollars count towards sustainability and even biodiversity, it can truly be a pleasure.
The following 10 businesses are ethical, eco-friendly, or fair trade businesses with double and even triple bottom line that focus on helping people and the planet (including wildlife!), in addition to profits. Each of these are small businesses with big hearts, focused missions, and compelling stories, and all worthy of your support. I encourage you to dig around on their sites and find out more about the artisans creating the products, as well as to discover their unique ‘why’–the meaning and motivation behind their business.
- Fashion & Compassion: F&C supports vulnerable and oppressed women by providing transitional employment, supportive community and connections to individualized resources that empower women who are charting a courageous path toward a self-sustaining life of purpose. Fashion & Compassion runs programs in Charlotte, North Carolina and Kampala, Uganda and partners with Artisan projects in five additional countries. F&C teaches women to make jewelry and other crafts. These products provide supplemental income to the women and an income stream for the organization. In Kampala, Uganda, for example, they train extremely impoverished women to start micro-businesses and small village banks. Within the village bank, the women contribute savings and lend money to one another to grow their small businesses. After 2 years in their program, the women are able to support themselves and their families through sustainable income from their small businesses.
- Wildlife Works Carbon: Wildlife Works’ mission is to harness the power of the global consumer to create innovative and sustainable solutions for wildlife conservation. They call it Consumer Powered Conservation. When you buy a Wildlife Works product, you become an agent for conservation. You’re wearing the brand that says you won’t sit quietly while the last wild things in the last wild places disappear forever. The jobs they create to make their products, and the money they invest into forest communities has a direct impact on saving endangered and threatened wildlife around the globe. Their first proven project was a wildlife reserve in Kenya, the 80,000-acre Rukinga Wildlife Sanctuary, which is now the heart of their 500,000 acre Kasigau Corridor REDD Project that protects an entire wildlife corridor between Tsavo East and West National Parks. This flagship wilderness project now employs over 300 individuals including rangers, land managers, seamstresses and greenhouse workers, all hired locally. Wildlife Works’ EcoFactory (carbon neutral, of course) itself now employs over 50 local women and 5 local men who make an organic cotton fashion collection and other sustainable private label lines.
- Elephant friendly tea: A Colorado company, Twin Trunks Tea Company, is making it easy to buy Certified Elephant Friendly Tea even if you don’t live near a retail store that carries certified tea. Their new line of whole leaf premium tea, Himalayan Green Tea and Himalayan Black Assam Tea, features 100% Certified Elephant Friendly Tea. Get your tea on and save elephants!
- Ten thousand villages: One of the larger ethical and fair trade companies on the list, TTV creates life changing opportunities for 20,000 makers in 30 developing countries. The company derives their name from a quote by Mahatma Gandhi (if you think you know it, share in the comments below!). They work under the philosophy that in every village there exist individuals who wish to live a meaningful life with dignity and who bring beautiful culture worth sharing. Multiply the village idea by ten thousand and it represents the world that Ten thousand villages is working to create. With a large product line and wide variety to choose from, this is a great place to browse if you’re not quite sure what you are looking for. Be sure to check out their unique history of how the business was born.
- Beautycounter: A Certified B Corporation with a triple bottom line (people, planet, profits) and a mission to get safer beauty products into the hands of everyone, Beautycounter has revolutionized the beauty industry with their customer to customer, transparent, research and advocacy-driven approach. This socially and environmentally conscious company has an impressive array of personal care products, including high performance makeup and skin care. You can read more about their mission, approach, and accomplishments here.
- DOMA coffee: DOMA draws their inspiration from their travels to coffee producing countries, and have surrounded themselves with a group of community minded artists, thinkers and outdoor enthusiasts who live, work and play in the pristine landscape of the North Idaho Panhandle. Every decision made at DOMA is rooted in sustainability, starting with an energy-saving Loring Smart Roast in their production facility. DOMA Coffee Roasting Company was founded in 2000 with the goal of creating an environmentally sound company that roasts great coffee. And the great news is, you can shop online!
- Ubuntu made: Now that you’ve purchased your coffee and are ready to tuck in to a hot mug, you need to check out Ubuntu’s handmade coffee sleeves! Ubuntu believes that empowerment means more than giving away free shoes or even providing a sustainable job. It means offering people a chance to create their own lives and livelihood. Ubuntu Made pays above-market wages and provides health insurance to all employees and their families, a rarity in Kenya. The job skills their ‘Mums’ learn and the money they earn empower them to buy homes, provide for their families, and sometimes start their own enterprises. They earn more than money; they earn respect in their community. Together, by providing disabled children with the healthcare and education they need, we empower them to realize their fullest potential. That’s Ubuntu in action.
- Raven and lily; Raven + Lily is a lifestyle brand offering trend-forward fair trade fashion, accessories, and home furnishings with its core underlying mission to empower women on a global scale. Today, the brand employs more than 1,500 at-risk women in 10 countries around the world and counting, providing them with a fair trade wage and access to a safe job, sustainable income, healthcare, and other tools they need to thrive. Additionally, every purchase of a Raven + Lily product, whether it is artisan jewelry and handbags or handcrafted soaps and soy candles, benefits the Raven + Lily ecosystem while also funding microloans to female entrepreneurs. The brand’s dedication to people and the planet landed it B Corporation status as it works to better the global fashion community, and the company is a member of the Fair Trade Federation.
- Sseko designs: Sseko Designs is an ethical fashion brand that hires high potential women in Uganda to make sandals to enable them to earn money through dignified employment that will go directly towards their college educations and ensure they will continue pursuing their dreams. To date, they’ve enabled 87 women to continue on to university. They currently employ 50 women in Uganda from all walks of life. They believe that every woman has a dream. When she is given the opportunity to pursue those dreams, they are collectively walking towards a brighter and more just and beautiful world. In addition to our work in Uganda, we design and source ethically made products from East Africa. They believe that good business can be an incredibly powerful force for positive social change. Sseko products are all made in Africa and create jobs, empower artisans and help end the cycle of poverty by building healthy communities and economies.
- doTerra: doTERRA is built on the mission of sharing therapeutic-grade essential oils with the world. Having seen for themselves the incredible benefits that can be had from using these precious resources, a group of health-care and business professionals set out to make this mission a reality. doTERRA has a global botanical network and artisans and distillers. As doTERRA has become a trusted partner in the essential oils industry, it has also been able to help communities improve their own economic futures through its Co-Impact Sourcing® model and the doTERRA Healing Hands Foundation™. The doTERRA Healing Hands Foundation® brings healing and hope to the world by providing global communities with the tools needed to become self-reliant. Through projects addressing the needs of microcredit lending; access to healthcare, education, sanitation and clean water; and fighting child sex-trafficking, individuals are empowered and lives are changed.
Shop with purpose! Shop. Give. Save.
What products or stories caught your eye? Share with me in the comments, and let me know if you have an ethical, eco-friendly, or fair trade business that I should know about.
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