READ THIS: Better World Shopping Guide

My staple tools of being a socially and environmentally conscious individual are the Better World Shopper listings.  If you have never been exposed to this educational wonder, head on over to their website immediately and figure out where your favorite products lie!

Available for personal use via their website (limited products), book (great but will need to be updated eventually) or smartphone app (best), this is a resource that you can use for just about anything.  Ellis Jones has compiled countless hours of research on different companies and ranked them overall according to human rights, environmental issues, animal protection, community involvement, and social justice.

Companies are divided into categories, like “clothing”, “fast food”, “retail stores”, or “frozen dinners”, and then ranked A-F according to the research done by Jones and his team.  Each category is also given a Best and Worst, and some specific reasons as to why they are awarded that title.  For example, did you know that Back to Nature, a staple in many supermarkets natural food aisles, is actually owned by Kraft, one of the worst companies in America?  Back to Nature gets an “F”, though its store placement might suggest otherwise.

I love this guide because I can use it when I am grocery shopping- I whip out my app ($1.99) and I can see what brands of cereal are better, or toothpaste, or almond milk.  I now appreciate some well-known brands a lot more (IKEA for example) while not totally loving others that I used to trust (like Kashi).  I have also been introduced to many new brands that I has never heard of, but now have grown to love and respect.

On the whole, even if you just visit the website when necessary, this is an invaluable tool for anyone looking to make their purchases consciously.  Check it out, and tell me what you learn!  Were you surprised by anything?  I know I was…

THE FEED GIFT GUIDE!

You guys, it’s the Christmas season! Did you know? Oh…

Shopping with responsible consumerism in mind is downright terrifying, especially with Black Friday and every commercial ever and family wish lists breathing down your throat. Well, I hope to lend you a helping hand with a lovely Responsible Gift Guide!

FOR HER:

Etsy– this is a no brainer! Girls love jewelry, and no matter what her style, you can find something beautiful on Etsy. The great thing about Etsy is that it connects you directly to artisans- there isn’t any greed-crazed corporate middle man to deal with, just you and the creator. Now, in terms of materials or ingredient sourcing, you’ll have to investigate each shop to make sure that they fit your responsibility standards.

Light Gives Heat– amazing organization that partners with women in Uganda to create beautiful, handmade jewelry items, while teaching them life skills and providing counseling. Many of the women have been affected by or lost family members to the LRA forces. In addition to jewelry, the company also has many other lovely accessories, such as bags, tees, and scarves. Inventory is updated frequently and new styles come out all the time. I own several of their pieces and they are lovely! I’m loving this banana tree jewelry stand.

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Conscious Box– Full disclosure, I already know that I am getting one of these for Christmas, and I absolutely cannot wait! This is a package subscription program, and every month you are sent a box of goodies from socially responsible companies. They even have a vegan option!

Julep– Nail polish that is free of nasty chemicals, yet it affordable and on-trend. Similar to Conscious Box, they also have a monthly subscription program. Try the promo code “penny” to get your first box for, well, a penny!

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Roozt– This is a great outlet site for organizations and conscious brands to get their names and products out to consumers- and for consumers to score them for less. You can search based on “humanitarian gifts”, “eco-friendly gifts”, and more! Anything from body products to jewelry to belts to tees.

Everlane– this site operates on a new business model where they work directly with manufacturers to bring you high quality product for a lot less money. I’m not terribly sure about their sourcing, but I own a few of their tops and the quality is truly unmatched. Plus, you get rewards for referring friends!

LUSH– yes, everyone knows I love LUSH. If you’ve been my friend or read this blog for more than five seconds, you know. But do you know about their gifts? They really are spectacular. Gifts are themed and products are picked and wrapped- it’s all beautiful, colorful, and smells amazing. The recipient of a LUSH gift will be the happiest at the party, no doubt. It’s basically all I ask for for Christmas.

FOR HIM:

Dudes are intrinsically harder to shop for. Maybe its because I’m not a dude that I think this, but I really believe it’s true. However, there are some things that guys in general enjoy, and so I will try to play to those. If all else fails, check out Society6 or Roozt and find something fun there.

Patagonia– This clothing company is amazing. One of Better World Shoppers, highest rated companies for sustainability and responsible practices, they make high quality clothing, especially for outdoorsmen, that every guy on your list will love.

Society6– This is a super-cool site for artists. They upload their artwork, you pick the printing medium (canvas, card, iPhone case, etc). Really efficient way to find great artists and own some of their work for less.

REI– this is the place for a gift card. REI is every adventurers dream- if you can do it outdoors, they will have it. Another very highly ranked BWS company.

Coffee from a responsible company. Locally, we love Furnace Hills Coffee Company, a direct trade group that employs adults with disabilities, roasts here in town, and works directly with farmers worldwide. More readily available is Equal Exchange, which also makes the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had.

Hello Somebody watches are a great find for the fashion-forward man in your life. They come in a variety of sizes and colors, and sometimes with interchangeable faces. Their organization focuses on providing care to children through food, hydration, education, and freedom.

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Falling Whistles is an organization that focuses on advocating for peace in the Congo. Their product is one for a particular man of fashion- a large whistle on a chain necklace cannot be rocked by just anyon. They are also great for girls, too, but work really well as a masculine piece for a male that wears things like this.

THE GIVING GIFTS

Some of my favorite gifts that I have given, or received, are what I like to call ‘giving gifts’. These are gifts that someone else receives on behalf of your loved one- someone that needs it more. They are meaningful beyond just your relationship, and they help build the Kingdom with our generosity.

FH Catalog– Food for the Hungry is one of the most effective Christian holistic development agencies in the world. Their Gift Catalog allows you to bless a global family with something they need- be it a cow, chicken, mosquito net, or job training.

The Hunger Strike– When you buy a Mobilization Kit, you receive a tee, necklace, and more- and 48 meals are sent to famine-stricken areas of East and West Africa, as well as funding missionary programs and anti-poverty advocacy events.

Cure International– This organization works with children worldwide suffering from Hydrocephalus- something that two of my siblings are affected by as well. Your purchase helps to fund a lifesaving surgery for one of these children.

Save the Storks– This is a great small-scale pro-life organization run by our friends, Joe and Ann Baker. They work directly with Crisis Pregnancy Centers to equip them with sonogram buses to operate outside of abortion clinics, as well as providing counseling resources, support groups, and even alternative employment for abortion clinic workers. Their clothing is beautiful and makes a great ‘giving gift’.