Shop smarter this holiday season (and all year round)

With the holiday season upon us, we have a great opportunity to support some amazing businesses engaging in social change. Giving purposeful, socially conscious gifts also helps raise awareness on the causes you are passionate about among family and friends.

In our increasingly globalised and interconnected world, our actions and consumption patterns have ripple effects on the world. Incorporating mindfulness into our consumption habits is an accessible and passive form of activism we can each practice in our daily lives. 

A 2018 online study conducted by Nielsen found that 81 percent of global respondents feel strongly that companies should help improve the environment. Similarly, 73 percent of these consumers said they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

If you are not already familiar with ethical consumerism, it is often referred to as voting with your dollar. By voting with our dollar we can support businesses working to create a lasting positive impact on the world. Clever consumption can also encourage more companies to reconsider their business models in favour of more sustainable, environmentally friendly, and socially conscious practices. 

We can each support the rise of ethical businesses through mindful consumption habits and by encouraging others to create positive change through simple gestures and informative conversations. These acts may seem small, but a 2016 study found that education was the most consistent predictor of ethical consumption on a global scale?

The importance of certification

Social responsibility enhances the reputation and desirability of a brand, corporation or product, which can dramatically increase profits. Cue the huge variety of products marketed under the guise of eco-friendly, sustainable, conscious trends. Grey areas in marketing regulations often makes it difficult for shoppers to determine which products and companies are truly ethical.  

Similarly, it is often difficult to compare products, manufacturers and businesses based on their ethical credentials as many products are certified by different standards and in different ways.

At the end of the day many businesses are more motivated by profit than social responsibility, so shoppers need to be aware of greenwashing. Independent certifications are a great way to spot the difference between ethical and not-so-ethical products or businesses.

Independent certifiers such as BCorp, Fair For Life, and 1% For The Planet recognise businesses who are dedicated to creating ethical supply chains, sustainable resource use, supporting charitable causes, and ensuring the dignity of their workers. Businesses who receive accreditation and certification from these organisations go through rigorous processes and evaluations to ensure that business practices meet a high ethical standard, so you can rest assured that you are consuming ethically. 

Often several moral and ethical values intersect in ethical businesses who receive certification. You may even notice that some brands are certified by more than one of organisation which is great news, as companies who are genuinely committed to making the world a better place are motivated to use their power to make a positive difference in more ways than one. 

Great ways to practice ethical consumerism 

  • Shop local, support small locally owned and operated businesses, farmers-markets, and co-ops. Get back to basics — ethical purchasing does not have to be expensive. 
  • Try to reduce your purchasing and consumption habits. Reducing unnecessary purchases is a great way to minimise your impact. 
  • Do your research, identify your key values and causes you want to support.
  • Look for companies with socially conscious outcomes, goals, and targets that can be measured. 
  • Look for independent certification such as BCorp, Fairtrade, 1% For The Planet and verify product claims.
  • When it comes to packaging, look for post-consumer recycled materials or no packaging at all.

WFI’s socially conscious holiday gift guide

Photo: Any Lane from Pexels

Let my people go surfing

An inspirational read about Yvon Chouinard’s (founder of Patagonia) commitment to creating space for sustainability in business.

Pukka Tea Selection Boxes

A beautiful selection of teas that are both great for the planet as well as for the mind, body and soul. 

One Tree Planted

Go green by supporting afforestation, reforestation and soil regeneration by donating trees in the name of a loved one.

Plastica Africa Earrings 

Support eco artisans with these bespoke earrings made by a Chilean owned company using recycled and repurposed plastic.

Chilote Shoes House shoes & slippers

Give the gift of comfort with these durable slippers created by independent female artisans in Patagonia using organic leather and wool.

The gift of a new experience

Search experiences available in your area such as cooking classes, hikes, sightseeing tours, lunch at an organic café or an art class. Also consider how to support small local businesses in your area that may be struggling due to COVID. 

During this holiday season, we can be grateful for the amazing things we have and reflect on how we can create positive changes in our communities. 

While the choices we make and the work we do may seem small, every choice we make has a big impact on the world around us. If you need a little ethical inspiration for other areas of your work and life, check out our blog to see how WFI members use their talents to make a positive difference. 

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