Ethical Holiday Gift Ideas

The holiday shopping season is upon us, and if you’re not already in the full swing of it, I’m betting you will be soon. To help you shop according to your values, we have listed some gift suggestions from the stores in our guide. These gifts will brighten the season for your friends or family, as well as for the artisans who produced them in safe conditions for a fair wage. You’ll also find that ethically-made gifts are often comparable in price to conventionally-produced items, so you can give gifts that support your values without breaking the bank!

Deep Krajood Basket from 7 Loaves

This basket made fairly in Thailand is perfect for storing throw blankets on chilly winter nights. $24.95 from 7 Loaves.

Holiday Hedgehog card from Cards from Africa

Cards from Africa has a wide variety of Christmas and holiday cards handcrafted in Rwanda by young people who have been orphaned by genocide or disease. I have a special fondness for the impossibly cute Holiday Hedgehog card. $4.99 from Cards from Africa.

Lavender silk scarf from Dolma Fair Trade

This lavender silk scarf is hand woven in India and colored with natural vegetable dyes. $48 from Dolma Fair Trade.

Black Night necklace from Freedom Stones

Made by women affected by human trafficking and poverty in Thailand, this classic black beaded necklace could be worn to the office or on a night out and comes in two lengths. $50 (short) or $70 (long) from Freedom Stones.

Sunlight earrings from Made by Survivors

These freshwater pearl earrings are made fairly in Thailand and feature an etched silver bead as an accent. $22 from Made by Survivors.

Matangwe tote from NationWares

This bold fabric tote is made ethically in Kenya by graduates of life skills programs run by Caring Partners Global. $28 from NationWares.

What are your ethical gift ideas? You may have noticed that all of the gifts above are geared toward women—how do you shop ethically for the men in your life? We’d love to hear from you!

Biggest List Ever of (Potentially) Ethical Stores

In order to provide the most potentially useful information as possible, we have added a new page to the site called Stores to Be Researched (or StBR for short). This section provides the list of retailers and websites that we plan to evaluate for adherence to our principles. And I’ve gotta say, it’s a heck of a list. We’re talking hundreds of websites. Though we have not yet researched these sites, we wanted to provide them in the interest of transparency, and to perhaps help you find ethical products that we do not yet have listed on our main guide.

The sites and retailers on the list were gathered from several sources: they may have been recommended by one of the other guides on our resources list, mentioned in a book or article, or posted on an eco-friendly website. At some point we heard a claim that the stores on the StBR list may be ethical, but we have not yet verified these claims.

The list was once much longer. We have already screened hundreds of retailers and listed them in our guide, classified them as Fairly Friendly, or rejected them as not being up to our ethical standards. However, we still have a long way to go.

If you are interested, we invite you to explore the StBR list. We hope that it may help you find a specific product you are looking for, or an ethical retailer that reflects your unique personal style. Keep in mind that we have not evaluated the websites on the StBR list and make no guarantee that they adhere to any of our ethical principles.

Shop to Stop Slavery Releases 2012 Holiday Guide

Ethical Holiday Shopping Guide 2012 from Shop to Stop SlaveryShop to Stop Slavery has released their 2012 Ethical Holiday Shopping Guide. This guide features 40 fabulous ethical retailers plus articles about the philosophy and world-improving strategy behind ethical consumerism. Shop to Stop Slavery releases a fresh version of this guide each year, which I love because it ensures that all of the retailers they feature are still operating. (I’ve come across many fair trade websites that look like they were designed in 1998, and I can never tell if they’re still functioning stores or not. This guide solves that problem!)

Shop to Stop Slavery was founded in 2010 as a tool to help inform the public about human trafficking and steps they can take to prevent it and help victims. Their website was one of our sources we used as a starting point when compiling our list of stores to research. It’s a great resource with a regularly updated blog. Posts cover ethical shopping and human trafficking-related tips and news. Definitely check it out!

October News Roundup, Featuring the First Fair Trade Phone

FairPhone's concept rendering of their fair trade phone

FairPhone’s concept rendering of their fair trade phone

I am giddy with excitement over this first news story. FairPhone, a company based in the Netherlands and Great Britain, is working to make the first fair trade smart phone. Long have I been tempted by the iPhone’s sleek look and beloved interface, but I have held off purchasing a smart phone because 1) I just don’t need it and 2) I know smart phones are produced with mined resources that contribute to conflict in Africa, not to mention they are assembled under questionable (at best) working conditions. FairPhone is working to address issues of raw materials sourcing, assembly, and e-waste, and plans to bring their product on the market in the next two years. Ethical Ocean has an interesting post where they suggest that the race to create a fair trade phone has officially begun, with Apple also working to improve the conditions in their supplier factories. (The link also includes a TED video about fair trade phones.) In today’s technology-driven society, this is a much-needed initiative. I’m excited for the day when the best technology is also partnered with the best ethical practices.

Bubbs is a new cause-focused shopping site that directs consumers to products that support one of many various causes, from animal rights to the environment to human trafficking. There is no blanket guarantee that the listed products meet any specific ethical criteria, but under each product image they provide a brief description of the cause supported by that product. Clicking a product takes you to a separate retailer’s website, where you can further investigate their ethics and practices.

This month Fair Trade Towns USA ran the Go Bananas Campaign to promote the demand for fair trade certified bananas. Have you switched to fair trade bananas? You can find them at Whole Foods, Sam’s Club in some states, Ahold/Stop & Shop, and various independent grocery stores.

P.S. Halloween is this coming Wednesday! If you’re planning on giving out chocolate, don’t forget to investigate fair trade options. If you live in the northeast, it may not be too late to order fair trade dark chocolate minis from Equal Exchange. Otherwise, check your local fair trade or natural food store to see what they offer!

Amazon Gets Into the Ethical Shopping Game logoYou know that here at the Fair for All guide, we’re all about making ethical consumerism easier for the average Joe and Joanna. Amazon had the same idea. They recently launched a new website full of green and natural products, (Don’t look for the Amazon smile; is run by Quidsi, a separate family of brands owned by Amazon.) investigates the claims of each product it carries to verify that they are in fact organic, energy-saving, etc. While the site focuses heavily on eco-friendly products over ethically-made ones, it does have a Fair Trade boutique that currently lists various Fair Trade Certified teas, coffees, sugars, and a few other products.

Obviously would be more beneficial if it included a human rights dimension as one of its main requirements for products. However, with such a huge retail giant getting into the ethical shopping realm, hopefully more consumers are introduced to the idea and begin to think more about the consequences of their purchases. Plus, it’s a super-convenient way to order Fair Trade sugar (so hard to find in stores!), and they offer free shipping on orders over $49.

Have you shopped at Let us know what you thought about it!

September News Roundup

There were several labor-rights related news items this month. Check out the stories below and some actions you can take to help combat labor abuses and human trafficking.

Over 280 people die in Pakistan factory fire

Petition supporting compensation for victims of the fire (addressed to the prime minister of Pakistan)

9 Ethical Shopping Apps & Plug-Ins

Stitched Together: a short film about the ethical Alta Gracia factory in the Dominican Republic

Petition asking Whole Foods to speak out against child labor in the cocoa industry 

Ask your Senators to support the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act

Remembering Modern-Day Slaves on Labor Day

On the eve of Labor Day weekend, it is only fitting to remember the workers around the world who suffer as modern-day slaves. An estimated 27 million people around the world are victims of human trafficking, either in the realms of forced labor or the sex trade. These individuals are forced to work for little or no pay under unsafe, coercive conditions, without the freedom to leave, organize, or stand up for themselves without the threat of violence.

One tragedy of modern-day slavery is that so many victims are ensnared while attempting to find legitimate work to support themselves and their family. Traffickers prey on the poor and the naive, offering well-paying jobs in a neighboring city or overseas. Instead of connecting people with real jobs, traffickers force them to work without pay in conditions that we would never accept if we saw them in the light of day.

Destroyed factory

In some factories, exits are locked to prevent workers from leaving. This leads to tragedy when fires occur. How would you feel if you were locked into your workplace everyday?

Imagine working 14-, 16-, 18-hour days in a brick kiln or garment factory. The work is repetitive and physically demanding. Your bathroom breaks are timed, and you are not free to converse with your fellow workers. Those who step out of line are beaten or subjected to verbal abuse. At the end of the day, your paycheck is too small to buy enough food to feed your hungry family. Or, your employer informs you that he is applying your paycheck toward your outstanding debt (which is often inflated or completely fabricated), so you have nothing to show for your day of work.

This is reality for far too many people in the world. On this Labor Day, let’s remember the workers around the world who do not enjoy the amazing freedoms we take for granted. The freedom to talk with fellow workers and hold organized meetings. The freedom to go to the restroom at will. Freedom from discrimination, racism, and sexism at the workplace. Of course these freedoms are not respected 100% of the time, but in the U.S. we at least have well-enforced laws to protect the basic rights of workers. Until all workers around the world have their rights protected as well, it is our responsibility to support businesses that treat their workers with respect, and to speak out against businesses that practice exploitation.

Tomorrow, I’m going to enjoy my freedom to kick off work a little early the Friday before a holiday weekend. But when I walk out of my comfortable, air-conditioned office building, I’ll be thinking of the workers in sweltering sweatshops and back-breaking quarries and how much work there is still left to do.

New Ethical Shopping Websites

Two new websites that focus on ethical shopping recently launched. While these sites do not necessarily follow all of the Fair for All guide’s principles, they offer alternative ways for consumers to find products that align with their values. Both sites require an email address and some other personal information to sign up for a free membership.

Screenshot of Ethical Ocean websiteEthical Ocean offers users the option of filtering products by three dimensions: Good for People, Good for Animals, and Good for the Earth Offerings include clothing and shoes for men, women, and kids; accessories; home décor; gifts; beauty and health products; toys; and a random grab bag of other interesting items. Each product page describes how the product qualifies for one or more of the ethical dimensions.


Fashioning Change offers two approaches to ethical shopping. Their “Wear This, Not That” feature matches the styles of specific items at traditional retailers to their ethical counterparts. In love with a shirt from Old Navy? Fashioning Change may list an ethical alternative that looks very similar. This is a great way to demonstrate that fairly-made apparel can be just as fashionable as what you find at the mall. Fashioning Change also offers a more traditional online shopping experience with huge number of filters, including style, price, country of origin, brand, color, and ethical cause. This site focuses on offering clothing, shoes, and accessories for men and women.

Both sites have been added to our Resources page.