12 Days of Giving, Day 6: Ethical Gifts for the Ones You Love

I think there are very few of us who would say Christmas shopping is our #1 favourite activity at this time of year: the crowds, the cost and the traffic are just a few reasons why it can feel more like a chore than a gleeful expression of holiday cheer.

A few years ago I decided to switch almost exclusively to online shopping for the holidays, which was wonderful for stress reduction, but got me thinking about a whole different kind of dilemma: where my presents were coming from. The collapse of a massive sweatshop in Bangladesh that supplied multiple big chain stores in 2013 was the beginning of a much more wide-spread conversation about the conditions in which our cheap consumer goods are made. 

Suddenly, ordering from big retailers - even from the comfort of my own home - didn't feel so stress free. In particular during the holidays, the definition of a thoughtful gift needs to expand to include who it's made by, where and how it's made, and what it's made from.

If your blood pressure's starting to rise, don't fret -  there's no need to brave the mall, do a ton of research or travel well out of your way for the only ethical retailer in town. Many ethical products can be found online. Below you'll find my top three suggestions... but act fast so you can get your gear in time for Christmas!

(One quick disclaimer: I'm not associated in any way with these brands, nor do I receive any kind of kick back for these products. I'm simply a fan.)

Image: Tentree Clothing

Image: Tentree Clothing

Ethical Gifts Idea #1: Tentree Clothing, for the Environmentally Conscious

Tentree is the trifecta of ethical clothing: it's cute, it's made from environmentally sustainable fabrics, and every item sold equals ten trees planted. 

This is a company that seriously walks the talk: they're committed to be both environmentally and socially conscious, while also producing great quality hoodies, t-shirts and other items.

They're also a certified B Corporation, which means they meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability.

A tentree hoodie will be the most comfortable you've ever owned (physically, and for your conscience!).

Image: Ten Thousand Villages

Image: Ten Thousand Villages

Ethical Gifts Idea #2: Ten Thousand Villages, for the Fair Trade & Social Justice Warrior

Rather than one brand, Ten Thousand Villages brings together hundreds of individual artisans and makers from around the world. Their online and in-store marketplaces sell beautiful goods, and their structure ensures that the makers of said goods get the pay out they deserve.

This company is way above-board and impressive in their size and reach. Also, the size of their inventory means you can find gifts for everyone in the family.

Special holiday bonus - they're currently offering free shipping on holiday purchases.

Image: The Little Market

Image: The Little Market

Ethical Gifts Idea #3: The Little Market, for the Feminist

Believe it or not, this company was founded by Lauren Conrad of The Hills fame. The former reality-TV star pursued a career in fashion, only to find a gaping hole in the market: that of fair trade products made and sold by women.

The Little Market is a non-profit entity that works with female artisans in different countries, offering them fair compensation for their work and spurring forward women-based economic development. 

Plus, Conrad's impeccable taste means that everything sold on this site is pretty lovely.

Steph Bowen