Published 2 years ago.
About a 19 minute read.
Image: See end of article for product image credits
With no end in sight to the pandemic and its many ripple effects, we can all use a little bit of brightness in our lives! So, here are some of the many companies, platforms and products aligned with a more intentional approach to consumption, that we’d be happy to support anytime.
“A good half of the art of living is resilience.” — Alain de Botton
Ahh, 2021 … Not quite the dumpster
that was 2020, but it definitely hasn’t been smooth sailing (just ask the
shipping industry! Ba dump bump) as the pandemic and its many ripple effects
continue to test our resilience. With the global chip
and ongoing shipping
still miring millions of products just out of reach of ports > retailers >
consumers, who knows whether we’ll be able to find or receive much of anything
this holiday season (but, hey — even more reason to shop locally as much as
But the holiday season still represents a welcome time to decompress and be
thankful for our blessings and continued resilience — and to doing our part to
support the resilience of others. To that end, we’ve compiled a list of some
of the many companies, platforms and products aligned with a more intentional
approach to consumption, that we’d be happy to support anytime.
We know the convenience of one-stop shopping is undeniable, but more thoughtful
purchasing habits benefit local communities; so first, do what you can to shop
locally. Once you’ve exhausted those options, check out purpose-driven online
platforms such as Buy Native,
Goodee, Made Trade
and The Verticale — dedicated to supporting
BIPOC- and women-owned businesses; Fair Trade-certified labor practices;
circular, inclusive, waste-saving, vegan and other categories of ethically made
apparel, personal care and home goods.
If big-box stores are more accessible for you, Target is an almost one-stop
shop that is taking impressive measures to rein in its carbon
and support Black-owned
and sustainable products; IKEA has tons of lovely
housewares and gift ideas, many of them recycled or otherwise sustainably made;
and Etsy features millions of unique, often-handmade
products — and carbon-neutral shipping. And when all else fails, Amazon is
also doing its part to promote sustainable
products and eliminate its
Join us for a transformational experience at SB Brand-Led Culture Change — May 8-10 in Minneapolis. This event brings together hundreds of brand leaders eager to delve into radical lifestyle shifts and sustainable consumer behavior change at scale. The trends driving cultural acceleration are already underway, and you can be at the forefront of this transformative movement.
Whatever you shop for, make sure the items are made to last — for clothes,
support the growing number of clothing brands that repair, recycle and resell garments and accessories
— such as Amour Vert,
Balance, The North
tonlé to name a few (and for bags and
luggage, you can’t go wrong with
Timbuk2). Secondhand apparel
marketplaces such as thredUP,
Poshmark or Vestiaire
Collective are always a good bet; or
peruse the curated collection of apparel and home goods at Buy Me
Once, already vetted for longevity.
And to encourage more conscious shopping habits with loved ones, recommend
getting groceries, personal care products and household supplies from the
zero-waste Loop platform (coming soon
to Walgreens, Kroger, Fred Meyer and Duane Reade in the US;
Tesco in the UK; and other brick-and-mortar retailers
or gift a membership to Thrive
Market — the largest B
with products that are certified regenerative, fair-trade, non-GMO and
biodynamic; often at lower prices than other ecommerce sites.
Image credit: Colive
Looking for holiday sweets for your sweeties with more lasting impacts than a
sugar and endorphin rush? Better-made brands including Alter
Chocolate and Tony’s
Chocolonely are working hard to secure
stable livelihoods for cocoa farmers around the world. Bedré
Chocolate — an Oklahoma-based chocolatier
owned by the Chickasaw Nation — uses recipes it says “reflect the
time-honored tradition of the Native American peoples who first cultivated this
divine delicacy”; and Greyston Bakery’s brownies
and blondies, packed with
make perfect stocking stuffers.
Birch Bark Coffee is an Ojibwe-owned,
organic, fair-trade, Canadian coffee brand that aims to get clean drinking
water to every Indigenous home in the country. In the UK, Fair Trade- and
Gold Standard-certified Cafédirect has been
working to improve farmer livelihoods and sustainability for 30 years. Here in
the US, POC-owned brands such as BLK+Bold, Made
by DWC (which also offers apparel
and home goods) and
Red Bay Coffee are not only working to ensure
coffee production is high quality and sustainable; they’ve created a vehicle for
diversity, inclusion, social and economic restoration, entrepreneurship, and
environmental sustainability domestically, as well.
After the division between northern and southern Cyprus in 1974 following civil unrest, war and displacement, families and friends have been separated on the island, unable to cross the border. Colive is the first company to operate across the conflict zone divide in more than 50 years, and is the only Cypriot olive oil brand available in the US at retail (now at Whole Foods nationwide, with additional retail locations in 2022). The one-of-a-kind Cypriot olives that go into each bottle of Colive are collected from 15 family farms on both sides of the conflict zone and combined into an EVOO that offers not only a unique taste, but also an admirable, dual mission: In addition to educating farmers on organic, regenerative farming practices, the company donates 10 percent of profits from each bottle sold to organizations dedicated to peace education and social entrepreneurship in the country, to foster help peace and a united Cyprus.
Many experts say that mitigating food waste would be one of our most powerful
weapons against climate
— so, with these snacks and beverages, you can tipple and nibble guilt-free, as
the environmental warrior you are:
Air Co’s products, including its Air
literally suck carbon dioxide out of the air — cheers to climate action!
San Diego-based Rebru has ‘re-crafted’ a
line of delicious, small-batch spirits from beer that has passed its prime
and would otherwise go to waste.
Sweden’s Gotland Spirits, the
UK’s Black Cow Vodka, and California’s Alchemy Distillery
and Misadventure Vodka are just
a few of the growing number of booze brands made from food waste.
Pasta lovers, nosh on Semolina Artisanal Pasta’s new, upcycled
fortified with ReGrained’s
made from spent brewer’s grain.
Agricycle Global's upcycled dried fruit
and flour brands are not only turning
food waste into value-added products, they are providing living
incomes and educational
for 7,000 women-led cooperatives in Sub-Saharan Africa and the
For the bakers in your life, think about upcycled cookie and brownie mixes
and baking flours from Renewal Mill; and keto, vegan and
upcycled cookies from their partner, Fancypants Baking
Turn your pets into climate heroes with nutritious, upcycled pet treats from Farm to
Fluffy or Shameless
Image credit: LEZÉ the Label
Here are just a few of the companies, products and platforms helping the fashion
industry make a dent in its wasteful, wasteful ways …
Founded by the Anishinaabe artist, designer and model of the same name,
Lesley Hampton is a size-inclusive evening wear,
athleisure and accessories brand aimed at decolonizing “euro-centric standards
in the fashion industry.” The brand epitomizes slow fashion — all items are made
to order or in small batches.
Paris-based Sézane started online as a way to cut out the middleman, with a
goal of zero-waste apparel production. The brand’s conscious approach extends to
its use of materials, packaging and energy; and a commitment to fair labor
conditions. In 2017, the certified B Corp created a philanthropic initiative,
Demain, to help children access education
and equal opportunities.
LA-based, carbon-neutral lifestyle brand Whimsy +
Row’s limited-run, locally handmade line of
womenswear is made from locally sourced, upcycled and low-impact materials —
with a commitment to fair wages and ethical working conditions. The brand is
also committed to longevity — every piece is designed to retain shape, hold seam
integrity, and become even more comfortable with each wear.
New, direct-to-consumer brand YesAnd is the latest in ethical fashion powerhouse Marci Zaroff's growing stable of brands. As she told us earlier this year, the idea behind the brand is: "Yes, it’s about style, quality, fit, color, comfort, price — everything you want. And by the way, ethically made, socially responsible, fair trade, certified organic, regenerative, circular, recycled, biodegradable, low-impact dyed — all the yummy stuff."
For fashionistas who love frequently freshening up their look without the waste
of fast fashion, gift a subscription to a clothing rental platform such as
Haverdash or Nuuly.
Sites with more specialized, occasion-specific offerings include
Armoire (includes high-end maternity clothes);
Gwynnie Bee (inclusive sizing), Rent the
Runway and Style
Lend (special occasion wear) — and, thanks to platforms such as Taelor and Borobabi, men and little ones can now join the fun, too.
From the founders of Timberland come a ‘new standard in sustainable hiking
boots’ — the ‘biocircular’ Erem boots are made from
materials including regeneratively farmed
Tencel™ fibers from sustainably managed forests, recycled rubber and a
proprietary biodegradability accelerator that enables biodegradation in 7 years
or less. The company will also take back your old boots, to reuse the materials
Meanwhile, startups from around the world continue to expand our choices for
Proceeds from New York-based regenerative athleisure brand Able
Made’s sustainable clothing and accessories
— made from upcycled fabrics including fruit leather and recycled nylon —
benefit inner city
Alliance offers a
line of upcycled and plant-based sunglass frames and snow goggles.
Taipei-based startup Koup has created a line of
moisture-wicking, quick-drying activewear shirts and
made from recycled plastic — with chemical-free, cinnamon-based odor
Vancouver, BC’s LEZÉ the Label continues to
churn out comfy-as-pajamas, moisture-wicking, anti-wrinkle, business
casualwear made from upcycled coffee
and plastic bottles — Oprah's even included them in her list of favorite things this year.
Mon Coeur makes circular kids’ clothes from fabrics
reclaimed from throughout its pan-European supply chain; the company
also collects used children’s clothes for repurposing into new.
LA-based Swiminista — a new venture from
Rock and Republic creator Andréa Bernholtz — features sustainable,
ultra-supportive swimwear made from recycled fabrics.
With UpWest x ReCircled, apparel
recycler ReCircled converted end-of-life sweaters
from eco-fashion brand UpWest into cozy winter blankets and dog sweaters
— and mittens that will be donated to unhoused people in Chicago this
Image credit: Valley Rose
thinksound’s new, over-ear headphones wrap the
company’s high-quality sound in Eastman’s Trēva™ engineering
— which contains more than 40 percent biobased content derived from
sustainably harvested trees.
For loved ones just dying for a new Macbook, iPhone or tablet, opt
for a certified refurbished one from Back
Market. The site is chock-full of
Apple-refurbished devices (at about half the price of new) that come complete with an AppleCare warranty
— and you can derive extra satisfaction
knowing you’re helping to mitigate
Those looking for a bit of benign bling should check out sustainable fine
jewelry brand Valley Rose, which touts not
4 Cs, but 5 — cut, color, clarity, carat and climate
neutrality. The company’s jewelry is made from fair mined or recycled
gold; ethically sourced, traced & certified natural gems; and sustainably
grown diamonds. Valley Rose recently became among the first to be accredited
to sell Certified Sustainability Rated
through the SCS-007 Standard — the first comprehensive,
multi-stakeholder sustainability standard developed for the diamond sector.
Image credit: Tinggly
Whether it’s wine tasting in Italy, absorbing the splendor of national parks
in Utah or hiking across glaciers in Argentina, experiences make
invaluable gifts. Global experience-gifting company
Tinggly specializes in gift boxes of worldwide
adventures. Each package, designed specifically around a theme, entitles your
chosen recipient to one travel experience in a destination of their choice. And
they have five years to decide when and how they’d like to use the voucher (an
excellent fail-safe, since our travel plans should probably remain flexible for
the foreseeable future). Plus, Tinggly says it offsets carbon emissions and
removes 11lbs (5kg) of plastic from the planet’s rivers, lakes and oceans for
every gift experience purchased.
For less intrepid loved ones not quite ready to return to travel, local
experiences such as wine tastings; walking tours; scavenger hunts (Let’s
Roam offers indoor and outdoor options); or arts,
crafts, language, fitness, music and cooking classes — either online or
in-person — are just a few gift ideas that can help enrich recipients’ lives
without adding more ‘stuff.’ Airbnb, Masterclass and Uncommon
all have a great selection of classes to choose from.
Image credit: Micro Kickboard
Micro Kickboard’s Deluxe ECO
Scooters — made
from recycled fishnets and other marine plastic — come in both Mini (ages 2-5)
and Maxi (ages 5-12), so younguns of many ages can enjoy. Look to Bureo for
other games and gear made from
recycled fishnets — including frisbees, skateboards,
and their own “Jenga Ocean.”
For budding little gardeners, Etsy shop
MyGardenProvisions offers indoor
herb garden grow kits (both regular and dinosaur-themed); Back to the Roots continues to expand its ever-popular line of kid-friendly grow-your-own herb and veggie kits; and kids can help tend gardens with Green Toys’ Kids Watering
made from recycled milk jugs.
For creative kiddos, eco-kids’ All the Coloring Busy
full of non-toxic art supplies including finger paints, hopscotch chalk and
colored pencils; and both
BiOBUDDi offer colorful
building blocks made from sugarcane plastic.
And the grandaddy of kids’ entertainment,
has dramatically upped its sustainability game — the company now boasts a toy
take-back and recycle
Barbies made from ocean
Try and source new and used books from local stores or sites such as
Bookshop.org — which pulls inventory from local
bookshops around the US; or buy from or donate to organizations such as Better
World Books — which matches every purchase
with a book donation to someone in need and funds literacy initiatives
worldwide; or First Book, which is working
to build a path out of poverty through educational equity.
Image credit: Cheekbone Beauty
Here are a few cosmetic and personal care brands whose impacts go more than skin
Botanical — purveyor
of organically farmed essential oils, honey and personal care products — is
bringing economic opportunity and growth to former coal country in West
Virginia by growing lavender on reclaimed coal mine land and providing
Cheekbone Beauty is a Canadian,
Indigenous-owned, sustainable make-up brand that has “promised to forge the
path to true sustainability, in line with the teachings in our Indigenous
roots, creating a perfect circular economy in the cosmetics space.” The
company is also dedicated to increasing both visibility and opportunity for
New Zealand’s Emma Lewisham claims to be
the first carbon-positive, circular beauty brand — the company touts
scientifically active products free from fillers and artificial colors,
fragrances and preservatives; driven by the principles of “refilling,
recycling and regeneration.”
Launched earlier this year, Izzy is the world’s
first fully reusable, sustainable, direct-to-consumer beauty brand. Its
first product launch: the world’s first zero-waste,
Jill Turnbull Beauty is a “blue” beauty brand
offering 100 percent plant-based, ocean-safe haircare, makeup and skincare.
Ornami Skincare is a Black-owned, toxin-free
skin care brand dedicated to highlighting the importance of self care.
Prose is a B Corp- and Climate Neutral-certified
purveyor of customized haircare products and solutions.
Thrive Causemetics — a luxury
cosmetics & skincare brand that donates to women’s health and empowerment
initiatives with every product purchased. The brand’s vegan and paraben-,
sulfate- and cruelty-free formulas are safe for users with compromised
Image credit: Enkay
Here are a few consciously crafted items to help warm your place up this winter:
Enkay’s hand-crafted wool and jute rugs, made by
skilled artisans all over the world, make a beautiful addition to any room —
and its direct-to-consumer model enables the company to pay its makers a
The brother and sister team of Eva Eckerblad and David Bronkie
launched Siblings in an effort to
tackle throwaway culture, starting with candles — conventional candles are
designed to burn quickly, leaving behind glass containers that are rarely
recycled. The siblings’ long-lasting, lovely-scented candles buck the
wasteful trend with their plant-based packaging and natural coconut-blend
For those in warmer winter climes or thinking ahead to next summer,
Agricycle’s Tropicoal Ignition is a 100
percent natural charcoal made from three upcycled ingredients: coconut
shells, palm kernel shells and cassava root; the brand is aiming to
revolutionize the grilling industry by replacing wood-burning charcoal to
Image credit: Hippy Feet
More and more companies are working support for displaced communities into their
Refugees — check out Tent.org’s list of participating
brands and The Good Trade’s list of gift
for companies supporting refugees through education, employment and
Unhoused — Unilever's The Right to
Shower donates 30 percent of profits
from its line of head-to-toe cleansers to support hygiene services for
people experiencing homelessness across the US. Every garment or pair of
socks sold helps Minneapolis-based Benefit Corporation Hippy
Feet provide transitional employment to young
people ages 16-24 who are experiencing homelessness.
Image credit: Wrapp'r
Once you’ve put extra consideration into buying ethical gifts, it doesn’t make
sense to then wrap them in materials that will further clog landfills — most
conventional wrapping paper not only isn’t recyclable or
biodegradable, the glittery stuff can end up polluting waterways and poisoning marine life.
Don’t add to the millions of tons of additional paper waste generated during the
holiday season — get a little creative with alternative
(newspaper, magazines, maps, inside-out chip bags) and reusable materials such
as furoshiki wraps, based on the
Japanese tradition of wrapping items in a single cloth —
Etsy have a
ton of beautiful options.
For even more better-gift ideas, check out Good Carbon
Gifts; and see some of our previous gift
Main image credits, starting top left: AirCo; Ornami Skincare; Birch Bark Coffee; thinksound; BiOBUDDi; Siblings. Bottom row, L-R: First Book; Amour Vert; Rebru; Koup; Shameless Pets; Emma Lewisham; Dragon Alliance.
Published Dec 6, 2021 7am EST / 4am PST / 12pm GMT / 1pm CET