Shopping While Conscious: A Gift Guide 2018
If you inhale deeply this time of year, perhaps you’ll smell the sweet scent of evergreen, with a twinge of pumpkin spice from your 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 Oliver Russell’s handy-dandy socially responsible gift guide comes in.
With a bit of planning, we’ll help you live your values while you shop for everyone on your “nice list” this year. We’ve changed it up a bit from last year's, where we suggested gifts for specific types of people, to be more keeping with our agency’s focus on the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals. We hope you’ll enjoy this year’s top picks for socially responsible companies changing the world, one sale at a time.
Gifts that give back are at the heart of this gift 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.
After the recent floods in Austin, 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 a great gift for outdoor enthusiasts and world travelers.
Did you know socks are the number one 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 since bees live in a hive and work together to make their world better. Backed by innovative sock tech and a 100% happiness guarantee, this is one stocking stuffer that won’t disappoint.
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 our most favorite clients.
Regular readers of our blog may know about PlasticWorks, the upcycling factory we built this year with a host of community partners. Learning about plastic pollution, especially about how to repurpose the material to make valuable goods rather than single use items that clog up the ocean and other waterways, inspired our favorite gifts for a more plastic-free life in 2019.
This sustainable, responsible outerwear and durable goods maker removes one pound of ocean trash for each product sold and is a Certified B Corporation. 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, kids, camping, and around the house, has removed nearly 1.5 million pounds of trash from the world’s oceans and waterways.
It’s one thing to replace the paper or plastic grocery bags with reusable totes, but many of us still rely on plastic options to wrap up our produce, bulk items, or snacks for the kids. ChicoBag, a Certified B Corporation and legal 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 3- pack of produce bags.
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 too.
A good daypack is a necessity, regardless of whether you are hiking, commuting to the office, or just taking the kids to the park. All the better when purchasing said pack helps alleviate poverty around the world and supports a public benefit corporation. The Luzon 18L Daypack Del Dia is made from re-purposed 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 certified B Corporation was informed by travels abroad and builds its “do good” mission into every product sold.
Whether you are changing diapers on the plane, on the road, or just wary of germs lurking on door handles and restaurant condiment stations, everyone needs a good hand sanitizer. The EO version of this must-have uses organic ethanol, a natural disinfectant that does no harm when absorbed into skin or the ecosystem. Best of all, it kills 99.9% of germs, making is just as effective as the nasty chemical stuff. A six-pack starts at $17.99 and fits in most stockings with Certified B Corporation goodness.
A weeklong experiential vacation learning surfing and doing yoga at Bahia Ballena, Costa Rica? Yes, please! This Certified B Corporation (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.
Gone are the days when you could just pick up mascara from your local drug store or grocery. Okay, you still can, but be prepared with a plan 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 Certified B Corporation) is a winner.
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, CA, this adorable couple is obsessed with making the highest quality body butters, deodorants, lip balms, and more. They also own and operate Eco Vision Packaging, which develops patented, renewable, biodegradeable and home compostable product container solutions.
Founder and head soapmaker Chris Rudd learned to appreciate artisan, olive oil soap while spending time at her mother’s family’s 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 biological diversity, conserving endangered species, and stopping climate change before it’s too late (which is why we are so proud to count her among our clients at Oliver Russell.) That’s why 10 percent of Our Planet Soap’s profits will go to the World Wildlife Federation this year. Bars of soap are named after endangered animals and start at $14.99.
Whether you are gifting yourself, your loved ones, or even your colleagues and neighbors this year, we hope this gift guide helps you align your values with your dollars spent. Happy (conscious) shopping.