This holiday season, we are reminded even more than usual of the ways our spending reflects our values. Let yours shine through with gifts that are made by hand and do good for artisans, the environment, and consumers at each step of their creation. Every gift purchased from a socially-conscious brand is a vote for a more caring and considerate world.
In a marketplace saturated with throw-away products and corporate advertising, it's easy to miss out on the amazing brands and gifts with a purpose out there that are truly doing good for people and the planet. But we know it doesn’t have to be like that. Delight your loved ones and feel good about the causes you support by sharing gifts that give back to the earth and to the artisans that create them.
Here is a simple guide to giving holiday gifts with a purpose. We created it to help make your holiday shopping a little easier this year, and to help amplify your positive impact in the world. Enjoy!
Support brands that respect workers' rights
Though many of us have adjusted to the new normal of remote work, artisans who make goods by hand have likely been working in person this whole time. And their safety is a big concern for ethical brands and conscious consumers. When looking for gifts with a purpose this holiday season, check if brands have implemented health and safety plans to protect their workers, like spacing work stations farther apart, providing masks, and conducting temperature checks. How a brand has reacted to current health risks can tell you a lot about their values.
A company's website is also a good resource to find out more about the causes they support. Brands will usually mention if they are a social enterprise or a worker-owned collective, which can be clues that they are invested in doing good. Do they introduce you to the artisans, who they are, where they are in the world, or an impact the products have in their communities? Ethical brands honor the people who make their products with living wages for meaningful gifts that give back.
There are many principled businesses all over the world, even if they aren't specifically trying to create positive change with their products. But unfortunately, some still exploit workers with poverty wages and unsafe working conditions that disregard health and quality of life. Lurking behind polished marketing campaigns lie sweatshops, child labor and insufficient safety protections.
Fortunately, conscious consumers and ethical brands are speaking up for better wages and working conditions. A gift that is meant to bring joy to a loved one shouldn't come at the cost of an artisan and her family's well being. By uniting to support brands that create gifts with a purpose, we can create an economy that uplifts everyone.
Consider environmental impact
In recent years, it’s become fashionable for companies to talk about their sustainable business practices. But when you scroll through page after page of “green” products, how can you tell which companies are truly working to have a positive environmental impact? All it takes is a little time to make sure you’re investing in gifts that give back!
Look for specific claims about the materials that go into a brand’s products. If a label lists specific natural ingredients the product contains, that’s a better sign than one that just says “all-natural.” Brands that are really committed will often also have pages on their websites that explain their sustainability practices in detail.
If you're unsure about a company's practices, some quick research can ease your mind. And if you can’t find more detailed answers to what you are looking for, you can always reach out to ask “Has your business done anything specific to combat climate change?” Here at Prosperity Candle, for example, we are part of We Are Still In, a coalition of businesses, nonprofits, faith organizations, cities, towns and schools who continue to support climate action to meet the Paris Agreement.
At the end of the day, using clean, sustainable ingredients to make gifts with a purpose is essential for the well-being of consumers, artisans and the environment.
Look for certifications
Ethically made products are designed for positive impact from start to finish, which means your gift will be appreciated for years. And Fair Trade and B-Corp brands often go above and beyond to ensure living wages, good working conditions and low environmental impact.
One way to make ethical shopping easier is by checking for these certifications. Fair Trade certification means you can be sure of a brand's practices because there are strict principles and guidelines companies must follow. You'll be happy to know your gift is supporting dignified employment.
B-Corp certification is similar: a rigorous assessment of social and environmental sustainability. Every 3 years, Prosperity Candle goes through the recertification process, and we're proud to be recognized for our mission to support women artisans who are building a brighter future after resettling in the U.S.
Start looking early
Give yourself ample time to learn about various ethical brands and find a gift that your loved ones will treasure. Keep in mind that handmade gifts, especially ones that are made to order, can take more time to craft than picking something up from a box store. This personal touch is part of what makes ethically handmade gifts especially beautiful and meaningful.
And online shopping makes finding ethical gifts that give back even easier! No more struggling to read the fine print on a label, or trying to google a business’ practices in the middle of a busy store aisle while perhaps balancing a child and maneuvering a shopping cart. More hours at home this year hopefully means you'll have a little more time and better resources at your fingertips to find meaningful gifts with a purpose.
Just remember to order a couple weeks before you need your gift to arrive. Ordering ahead is a comforting gift to yourself - you know it’ll arrive on time - and a gift to the hardworking postal workers who often see a last minute surge of packages during the holidays.
At Prosperity Candle, we've seen how lives are transformed when artisans’ well-being is put before profits. A child receives an education, a family can afford to put healthy food on the table, healthcare is more accessible. We strongly believe that consumers and brands have the power to shape a brighter future, together. Every gift is an opportunity for us all to make a difference.
Let us know how you'll be giving back this holiday season or any gifts with a purpose you've found in the comments below!