How to be a Conscious Shopper

Impakter Editorial BoardbyImpakter Editorial Board

This article is part of an editorial collaboration with BCorporation. The BCorp Series can be found here. The original publication can be found here.


B Corps Help You Vote With Your Dollars and Live Your Values During the Holidays

If you inhale deeply this time of year, perhaps you’ll smell the sweet scent of evergreen, with a twinge of pumpkin spice from a colleague’s latte. With the sights and smells of the holiday season all around, it’s also impossible to avoid the mental litter of mass consumerism that overtakes your mailbox, inbox and social feed this time of year.

That’s where this handy-dandy socially responsible gift guide comes in. With a bit of planning, you really can live your values while you shop for everyone on your “nice list” this year. I hope you’ll enjoy the top picks from socially responsible companies changing the world, one sale at a time.

The Gift of Basic Needs

Gifts that give back are at the heart of this guide, but in particular, we’ve selected a few options that provide life-changing resources with each purchase, including clean water, a healthy meal, and warm, dry socks.

LifeStraw — After the recent floods in Austin, Texas, everyone in the city had to boil their water. As extreme weather caused by climate change increases, more cities will find themselves in similar predicaments. At LifeStraw, each product sold brings a child in Africa safe water for an entire school year. LifeStraw’s water bottles, gravity bag, and universal filtration kits make great gifts for outdoor enthusiasts and world travelers.

Bombas Socks — Did you know socks are the most-requested clothing item at homeless shelters? Bombas is a bomb-ass Certified B Corporation that donates a pair to those in need each time you shop. More than 9 million pairs have been donated so far. Bombas is Latin for bumblebee, an apt name for a socially conscious company because bees live in a hive and work together to make their world better. Backed by innovative sock tech and a 100 percent happiness guarantee, this is one stocking stuffer that won’t disappoint.

Happy Day Brands — The quality of the company’s chocolate, coffee, tea, and superfood oatmeal products is matched only by its founding couple’s big hearts. Recently, they donated 100,000 servings of oatmeal to hungry Idaho schoolchildren and their families, and for every product sold, all year round, the company donates a meal to a hungry person in need. (Full disclosure, Mark and Jeanette Priddy, the co-founders of Happy Day Brands, are among my favorite Oliver Russell clients.)

A Plastic-Free Holiday

This year, the agency where I work decided to take plastic recycling into its own hands after changes to global markets made it impossible to recycle several common types of plastics. We built PlasticWorks with a host of community partners to upcycle the material and create valuable goods rather than single-use items that clog the ocean and other waterways. That’s why plastic pollution has been on my mind and inspired some of my favorite gifts for living a more plastic-free life in 2019.

United by Blue — This sustainable, responsible outerwear and durable goods maker removes one pound of ocean trash for each product sold and is a B Corp. The bag selection is particularly legit with a modern take on the fanny pack for just $28. So far this company—which makes goods for women, men, and kids, and for use on the go, at the campground or at home—has removed nearly 1.5 million pounds of trash from the world’s oceans and waterways.

ChicoBag — It’s one thing to replace paper or plastic grocery bags with reusable totes, but many of us still rely on plastic options to wrap our produce, bulk items, or snacks for the kids. ChicoBag, a B Corp and benefit corporation, offers attractive, affordable alternatives to single-use zip-top bags for produce and snacks, starting as low as $12.99 for a rePETe three-pack of produce bags.

Everlane ReNew — Clothing company Everlane turned 3 million plastic bottles into “outerwear with an outlook.” From fleece pullovers to three durable parka options and six puffer coats for the coldest of winter weather, Everlane has the ambitious goal of keeping new plastic out of its supply chain by 2021. The company practices “radical transparency” in pricing and gives consumers information about employment and environmental practices related to clothing production.

Traveling a Better Path

Cotopaxi — Whether you are hiking, commuting to the office, or just taking the kids to the park, a good daypack is a necessity. All the better when purchasing said pack helps alleviate poverty around the world and supports a benefit corporation. The Luzon 18L Daypack Del Dia is crafted from repurposed ripstop nylon, making it ultra-light for summer adventures. The internal hydration sleeve makes it a great take-along in tropical climates, too. This Salt Lake City-based B Corp was informed by travels abroad and builds its “do good” mission into every product sold.

EO Hand Sanitizer Spray 6 Pack Peppermint + Citrus — Whether you are changing a child’s diaper on a plane or just wary of germs lurking on door handles and restaurant condiment stations, a good hand sanitizer is good to have. This B Corp’s EO version uses organic ethanol, a natural disinfectant that does no harm when absorbed into the skin or the ecosystem. Best of all, it kills 99.9 percent of germs, making it just as effective as the nasty chemical stuff. A six-pack starts at $17.99 and fits in most stockings.

Bodhi Surf + Yoga — A weeklong experiential learning vacation surfing and doing yoga at Bahia Ballena, Costa Rica? Yes, please! This B Corp (actually the first tourism business to become certified in Costa Rica) is ranked among 2018’s Best for the World in the Community category for its treatment of workers, customers, and the environment. The company’s small groups allow for personalized instruction in a pristine, protected marine park, putting Bodhi in a class of its own. They also offer options for families.

Social Impact is Beautiful

Beautycounter Lengthening Mascara — Gone are the days when you could just pick up mascara from your local drug store or grocery. OK, you still can, but know what you’re looking for because you’ll be inundated with options that create that “falsie” look, produce inky spikes, or otherwise conjure images of Chia Pets growing above your eyeballs. If you are after a simple, elegant mascara that does what God intended mascara to do — make your lashes longer, darker, and prettier — this option (from a B Corp) is a winner.

Organic Essence — Changemakers Gail and Ellery West are a husband-and-wife team committed to manufacturing chemical-free products without any plastic in the packaging. Based in Crescent City, California, the adorable couple is obsessed with making the highest quality body butter, deodorants, lip balms, and more. They also own and operate Eco Vision Packaging, which develops patented, renewable, biodegradable, and home compostable product container solutions.

Our Planet Soap — Founder and head soapmaker Chris Rudd learned to appreciate artisan olive oil soap while spending time at her mother’s family home in the South of France.

Chris marries the highest quality natural soap (handmade in her soap factory in Boise, Idaho) with a deep commitment to protecting biological diversity, conserving endangered species, and stopping climate change before it’s too late — which is why I am so proud to work with her at Oliver Russell producing waste-free products. Ten percent of Our Planet Soap profits will go to the World Wildlife Federation this year. Bars of soap are named after endangered animals and start at $14.99.

Go Shop and Do Good

We all know the importance of voting in political elections, but it’s just as important to Vote Every Day with your dollars as mindful consumers. This holiday season, please support companies like B Corps that are committed to making social and environmental change in the world.

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