Ethical Shopping Guide


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Like to shop? Want to be kind to other people, the planet, and yourself? You’ve come to the right place!

Here are ethical brands and items that I personally use and love. I’ve divided the brands into two categories of ethical commitment: “Ethical Models” are companies that center their whole mission around being ethical and/or sustainable (and meet my criteria). “Better-Than-The-Alternative” brands are more ethical than mainstream choices, but not quite up to the standards of the ethical models. I include them because I think it’s practical (we all buy cheap things sometimes), and it helps us and companies make steps in the right direction.

Brand names link to information about their company ethics. Recommended products may be affiliate links, which help support this blog (when you purchase through them). I only link to products I personally use and would recommend anyway. If you buy, I appreciate your support! But more importantly, thank you for making the world a better place for all of us!

ethical shopping guide - clothing

Ethical Models:
ABLE Get $5 Off (with code HIGHFIVE) • basics • denim
Amour Vert
 • Shop • tees that plant a tree • small-batch prints
Boden • Get 20% off • business casual • outerwear • menswear
Clothes Mentor* • pre-owned basics • maternity • workwear
Everlane Shop • eco-clean jeans • basics • workwear • menswear
Faherty • Shop • flannels • swimwear • menswear
Fair Indigo Shop • organic cotton basics • dresses • menswear
Mata Traders • Shop • hand-blocked prints • dresses
Poshmark* • brand-name pre-owned
Thred Up* • pre-owned basics to formalwear
United By BlueGet $5 off • activewear • outerwear • menswear

Better-Than-The-Alternative:
Ann Taylor / LOFTShop • business casual • sweaters
HanesGet 20% off • basics • underwear • menswear
UniqloGet $10 off • (my favorite) basics • outerwear • underwear • menswear

*Second-hand shopping is actually more ethical than buying new. It reduces garment waste and helps reduce demand for cheaply-made (i.e. unfairly-waged) clothing. It’s also a great way to recycle your clothes by selling them.

 

ethical shopping guide - shoes & accessories

Ethical Models:
ABLE 
Get $5 Off (use code HIGHFIVE) • handmade jewelry • leather bags • shoes
Brave Soles The Amiguita Coin Purse • leather + recycled tire shoes
EverlaneShop • twill and leather bags • shoes
Hackwith Design House Shop • artisan bags, jewelry, and shoes
Just One Silver Chevron Earrings • handmade-in-Africa jewelry
Mata Traders • Shop • handmade-in-India jewelry
Nisolo Shop • leather shoes & bags • brass jewelry
Rothy’s Get $20 Off • shoes made from recycled plastic

Better-Than-The-Alternative:
Etsy Shop • platform for worldwide artists
Toms • Get $20 Off • shoes • sunglasses

 

ethical shopping guide - health & beautyEthical Models: 
Acure 
• Radically Rejuvenating Cleansing Cream
Derma E Firming Eye CreamOvernight Peel
Diva Cup  Model 2 (post-birth) Cup
Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Pure Castile Soap
Ecotools • Foundation Brush
EO Products • Hand Sanitizer Spray
LUSH • Queen Bee Hair Styling Balm • Brazilliant Shampoo Bar • Avobath Bath Bomb
Meow Meow TweetGrapefruit Deodorant Cream • Rosemary Avocado Shampoo Bar
NativeAluminum-Free Deodorant
Olly • Daily Energy Vitamins
Preemptive Love CoalitionChamomile Sisterhood SoapKinsman Activated Charcoal Soap 
Thistle Farms Enriching Body Lotion • Uplifting Bath Soak
W3LL PEOPLEMulti-Use Color Duo

Better-Than-The-Alternative:
Alba Botanica • Hawaiian Oil-Free Moisturizer
Burts Bees (owned by Clorox) • Brow PencilNatural Tinted Lip Balm
L’Oreal (+ the brands it owns) • NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream • Garnier Whole Blends Conditioner
PacificaStellar Gaze MascaraDevocean Lipstick
Physicians Formula Organic Wear • Natural Origin CC Cream • Get 50% off
The Body ShopTea Tree Skin Clearing Clay Mask
Thinx • Hiphugger Period Panties

 

ethical shopping guide - home

Ethical Models:
Barebones LivingCast Iron Skillet
Beeswrap • Reusable Food Wraps
CamelbakWater Bottle
EcoscrapsOrganic Garden Soil
Full CircleTidy Organic Dishcloths
Lunchskins Zip Bag Set 
MethodWaterfall Hand Soap
Mighty Nest Wool Dryer Balls
Seventh GenerationFree & Clear Dish Soap
U-KonserveStainless Steel To-Go Container
United By BlueLunch Bag • Get $5 Off

Better-Than-The-Alternative:
Green Works (owned by Clorox) • Multi-Surface Cleaner
IKEAShop
Pottery BarnGet $25 Off
Target* • Shop
West ElmShop

*Although Target has been on Ethisphere’s “Most Ethical Companies” list for several years, I still hesitated to add them to this list. Most of their brands are not on par with the rest of this list, and Target also has a iffy history with its own employees and unions. However, because their brands are held to a much higher standard than competitors like Walmart and Amazon and the company has made steps towards sustainability, I do recommend Target as a more ethical choice for cheap home goods.

 

ethical shopping guide - food & drink

Ethical Models:
365 by Whole FoodsOrganic Staples
Bark Thins Snacking ChocolateDark Chocolate Almond 
Bob’s Red MillAlmond Flour • Coconut Flour
Clif Bar & CoChocolate Chip Clif BarLemon Zest Luna Bar
DangToasted Coconut Chips
GT’s Living FoodsOrganic Raw Kombucha
King Arthur FlourGluten Free Flour Mix
LärabarCoconut Cream Pie Bars • Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bars
MadhavaOrganic Coconut Sugar
Newman’s OwnNewman O’s Cookies
Numi OrganicJasmine Green Tea
Oregon Chai Chai Tea Latte Concentrate
Simply OrganicSpices & Seasonings
So DeliciousDark Chocolate Cashew-Milk Ice Cream 
Stash TeaMojito Mint Tea
Traditional MedicinalsOrganic Echinacea Tea
Women’s Bean ProjectShop
Yogi TeaHoney Lavender TeaEgyptian Licorice Tea
Your local Farmers’ Market and CSA

Better-Than-The-Alternative:
Aldi
DaiyaDairy-Free Cheese
Hy-vee
Jimmy Johns
Panera Bread
StarbucksFrench Roast Coffee

 

ethical shopping guide - kids

Ethical Models:
Bella Luna ToysCrinkle CutterWooden Paddle Boat
California BabyNatural Bug Repellant
CamelbakKids Water Bottle
Earths BestOrganic Formula
Green ToysRecycling Truck
Hape Toys • Pound and Tap Bench with Xylophone
Imagine ChildhoodBird BingoButterfly Kite
Once Upon a Child • Find a Store
Petit CollageConstruction Puzzle
SquizRefillable Pouches (unfortunately hard to find in North America)

Better-Than-the-Alternative:
Aden + AnaisOrganic Swaddle Blankets
BabyganicsMineral-Based Baby Sunscreen
Burts Bees (owned by Clorox) • Baby Shampoo & Wash
Hasbro GamesCandy LandScrabble
H&MShop • we bought most of J’s shoes here
Toms of MaineNatural Children’s Toothpaste
Touched by NatureOrganic Cotton “Home Grown” Bodysuit
UniqloShop • Get $10 Off • basics • coats • pajamas

 

ethical shopping guide - methodology & resources

In the spirit of transparency, I only include brands and products that I have bought and use myself. I wouldn’t recommend a brand I hadn’t tried to a friend, and so I won’t recommend it to you.

For a brand to be considered for this list, they must demonstrate strong success in at least two of these areas:
• Use of ethical labor / fair wages
• Locally made or strong oversight in overseas production
• Ethical sourcing of ingredients
• Use of consumer and employee-safe ingredients
• Use of environmentally sustainable ingredients
• Environmental sustainability in manufacturing and/or business practices

I also consider:
• Recyclable or sustainable packaging
• Company transparency
• Certification by (or use of materials certified by) B Corps, USDA Organics, Fair Trade, LEED, Leaping Bunny, the Non-GMO Project, Rainforest Alliance, or the Forest Stewardship Counsel
• Ethical treatment of animals
• Commitment to charitable giving / volunteering
• Products’ durability and ability to reduce waste (i.e. replacing disposable items)
• Empowerment of women and minority groups

For questions or concerns about this list, please contact me.

 

Resources:
B Corporation
Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database
Ethical Consumer
Ethisphere’s “World’s Most Ethical Companies” List
Fair Trade Certified
Forest Stewardship Counsel
Good On You App
Leaping Bunny Certified
LEED Certified
Rainforest Alliance
Selflessly Styled blog
Style Wise blog
The Art of Simple blog
The Good Guide
The Good Shopping Guide
The Non-GMO Project
The True Cost film 
USDA Organic Certified