Best Eco-Friendly Gifts of 2018

Isn’t it always better to give a gift with a story? We think so!

When you shop with companies that are truly proud of their products, they will want to tell you everything about the product–from sustainable features to eco-friendly packaging. Look for companies that make sustainability part of their mission. Don’t just stop at the words “eco”, “green” or “natural” though, try to find what actually makes their products great for the planet. Are they using organic, sustainably harvested materials, or do they meet fair labor standards? Not only does a sustainable story mean your product is probably better for the planet, but it’s also more enjoyable to share a gift you feel a connection to!

We’ve collected a list of our favorites below. These eco-friendly products come complete with amazing stories that you can share with your loved ones this holiday season! If you’re still looking for the perfect gift by the end, head over to to shop for gifts for her, for him, for kids, for baby, or even shop our top zero waste gifts!

EarthHero - Engraved Copper Shotglass Set - 4pk - 1United By Blue Engraved Copper Shot Glasses

Give a gift with phrases worth toasting to! These 100% engraved copper shot glasses feature classic adventure phrases, including: Made for the Mountains, Roam Free, Adventure Awaits, and Keep Paddling! These four shot glasses are hot-tinned on the inside to reduce corrosion, and finished with a tarnish reducing lacquer–all done by hand.

Plus, when you buy these shot glasses, you remove 1 pound of pollution from our oceans and waterways, thanks to United by Blue!

 

EarthHero - Badger Beard Grooming Kit 1Badger Beard Grooming Kit

Share the gift of self-care with your loved one! No matter what kind of facial hair they’re rocking, they’ll appreciate this all-in-one kit made by a family-owned company in the USA.

While they’re growing your beard out (think first 6 weeks), the organic beard oil uses babassu and jojoba oils to condition and nourish, reducing any itchy or patchy spots. Once their beard is an ideal length, they can use the beard balm to condition the beard, keep stray hairs in check, and add a touch of styling. They’ll appreciate a softer, tamer beard in no time, thanks to you!

 

EarthHero - Sanari Organic Candle Gift Set - 1Sanari Organic Candle Gift Set

Light up your loved one’s day with this heartwarming candle gift set. These natural candles are infused with certified organic essential oils in a vegan coconut wax blend, hand-poured in small batches in Los Angeles, California. Each set includes 3 best selling Sanari Candle scents, each with a different theme. No matter the scent, your friend will love the mini wine glasses left over once the candle melts down!

Plus, Sanari donates a portion of every purchase towards Breast Cancer Research, so your gift goes even further!

 

EarthHero - Stir It Up Bamboo Turntable 1House of Marley Stir it Up Turntable

Treat your audiophile friend to the modern version of this classic turntable.  The streamlined design is made from sustainable materials like bamboo and recyclable aluminum, with a built-in pre-amp that’s compatible with any House of Marley speaker. It features a 33/45 RPM knob, replaceable cartridge, anti-skating control, and belt-drive turntable. Plus, it’s manual, with an auto-start and stop (a big deal in the vinyl world!)

Not only is this beauty made with sustainable materials, but House of Marley plants a tree for every purchase!

EarthHero - Gaby Crumb Breadboard - 2

bambu Gaby Crumb Bread Board

Who doesn’t love fresh baked bread? What isn’t so fun is the mess of crumbs lining the cutting board at the end.

Our go-to gift for our baking friends, this bread board isn’t only a gorgeous addition to any kitchen–it’s super functional, too! Underneath the slotted layer, you’ll find a compartment that traps crumbs, making cleanup after a day of entertaining a breeze!

We love how bambu is transforming homes with their sustainably sourced, durable, and beautiful products, making them a no-brainer for one of our most giftable brands!

 

EarthHero - 4Ocean Recycled Sea Turtles Bracelet 1

4Ocean Recycled Bracelet

Fact: an estimated 16 BILLION pounds of plastic waste enters our oceans each year. 4Ocean is on a mission to stop this with their recycled bracelets. With a cord made from recycled plastics, beads made from recycled glass, and a stainless steel 4Ocean tag, this handcrafted donation bracelet doesn’t just use recycled materials–but actively removes waste from our oceans as well! For every bracelet sold, 4Ocean will remove 1 pound of waste from our seas.

Not only does each bracelet remove a pound of waste, but they also offer bracelets specific to other causes. Proceeds from this green bracelet shown, for example, allow 4Ocean to partner with the Florida Atlantic University Marine Research Lab in Sea Turtle conservation efforts. To date, thanks to your support, 4Ocean bracelets have pulled over 2,247,704 pounds of trash from our oceans and coastlines to date–and growing every day!

EarthHero - Tea Time Infuser Bottle Earl Grey 4Full Circle Home Tea Time Infuser Bottle

Have a coworker who brings tea to work daily? Treat them to a more peaceful morning with this tea infuser bottle! The BPA-free Tritan and recycled plastic strainer is ready to hold loose or bagged tea, sugar, lemons, or herbs like mint! The unique twist-to-lock lid let’s them enjoy one-handed drinking, with a removable cork grip to keep the glass bottle from slipping from their hands.

EarthHero - Natural Sunshine Bath Soak - 1Bestowed Essentials Sunshine Herbal Bath Soak

Give the gift of peace with this bath soak, made from a blend of magnesium-rich epsom salts and mineral-packed Dead Sea salt. Dried calendula petals are added for a thoughtful touch of color that nourishes the skin, while the epsom salts work to alleviate sore and achy muscles. This all natural bath soak comes in a 100% biodegradable & compostable cellophane bag, plus 10% of every product purchase goes to charities that provide clean water to those in need! Learn more about Bestowed Essentials, and how the founder runs this business from her solar powered van, here!

 

EarthHero - Men's Cannon Vegan Shoes - Navy

SAOLA Cannon Vegan Sneakers

This is truly an eco-shoe to look out for! These shoes are made with outdoor-friendly materials like recycled plastic from water bottles, organic cotton, and even algae–yep algae! Their BLOOM Foam, used in both the insoles and outsoles, is made with algae biomass so it’s lightweight, durable, and awesome for soles! Plus, SAOLA donates 3% of sales to various environmental non-profits that give back to the planet. 

Shop Women’s Cannon Sneakers
Shop Men’s Cannon Sneakers

Green Guru Joyride Roll Top Backpack

EarthHero - Joyride Roll Top Backpack - 1

Give a gift that’s truly unique. This creative backpack is made from colorful upcycled industrial fabrics and reflective street signs, so no two bags are truly alike! Plus, this combination of durable materials and functional design gives this pack the style they’ll want and the technical aspects they’ll need.

Green Guru has diverted more than 517,900 pounds of materials from US Landfills by upcycling materials into bags just like this!

For the Kids

EarthHero - Biobased Building Blocks - 1BiOBUDDi Biobased Building Blocks

Cultivate your little one’s imagination, spatial awareness, and motor skills with these biobased Building Blocks! This set of 40 colorful learning blocks are made entirely from biobased materials (not plastic!), crafted from natural sugarcane plants. The uniquely designed pieces can be stacked to build endless combinations, and easily come apart for simple clean up. Warning: while they’re much more sustainable than your average building block…. these little blocks will hurt just as much as the other guys when they’re stepped on!

EverEarth Bamboo Rocking Horse

Watch them light up when they see their new rocking horse! From its sustainable construction, to its developmental benefits, this traditional toy is a win-win. It’ll improve your kiddo’s balance and muscle development while letting them live out any old-west play scenario. Yeehaw!

EarthHero - eco-dough Holiday Non-Toxic Play Dough

eco-dough Holiday Dough Set

This super safe, non-toxic play dough is the perfect stocking stuffer! Give the gift of creativity this holiday season with worry free playing to keep mom and kids happy. Made from all natural ingredients, this non-toxic play dough is a safe option for building, molding, and sculpting anything they can imagine! Essential oils add a light scent while keeping dough pliable for hours of creative play.

EarthHero - "The Circle People" Children's Book - 1

Conscious Stories Books

Okay, we’re not gunna lie, one of our team members teared up while reading these books. Not only are the illustrations beautiful and the characters heartwarming, but every story teaches a valuable lesson that anyone can enjoy!

Each story begins with Snuggle Breathing, which helps both parents and kids to step into a space of relaxation and concentration prior to reading the short story! The story pictured, “The Circle People”, focuses on helping children find connection and belonging in the modern-day village! Each story then ends with reflective questions and activities to help your little one process the lesson they just learned!

Plus, these books don’t just teach important life and environmental lessons–they’re made of FSC-Certified paper too, harvested from sustainably grown sources! Make the last 20 minutes of every day special with Conscious Bedtime Stories!

EarthHero - PlanToys Build-a-Robot - 1PlanToys Build-A-Robot

Emotions can be hard to explain–but Build-a-Robot makes it easy. This adorable robot features 4 interchangeable heads (sad, happy, mad, and surprised) to teach emotion and offer different tactile and auditory experiences to help your kiddo grow. The legs are movable for standing or sitting so your child can choose which one best expresses the emotion they chose.

All PlanToys are made from sustainably harvested rubberwood trees that can no longer produce latex paired with surplus sawdust chips that are thermally reprocessed to form a durable wood, and finished with E-Zero non-formaldehyde glue, and non-toxic water-based dyes. From donating resources to a Children’s Museum in local Thailand, to using a portion of profits to reforest nearby cities, PlanToys is sustaining the environment, and the economy, with their innovative rubberwood toys!

EarthHero - Ballerina Mouse Organic Plush Gift Set 1

Apple Park Ballerina Mouse Gift Set

This absolutely adorable gift set combines your little one’s favorite mouse plushie with a uniquely soft teething rattle, all in one adorable barn door style package. Made from 100% organic cotton fabric that’s safe for sensitive baby skin and filled with hypoallergenic corn fiber, this sustainable set lets baby gently teeth while cuddling the night away. Say goodbye to sleepless nights, and hello to Ballerina Mouse!

EarthHero - Red Striped Baby and Kids Long Johns 2

Under the Nile Red Striped Long Johns

Who doesn’t love a new pair of pajamas over the holidays! We love these red and white striped long johns from Under the Nile. They’re the perfect set to get your children in the holiday mood! The snug fit is perfect for keeping your child feeling secure as they drift off into dreamtime.

Janice and Mohamed Mosoud created Under the Nile based on a need for better, cleaner, and safer materials for their own daughters, so you can trust that Under the Nile gifts are safe and sustainable for your own children, too!

 

EarthHero - Birch Tree Bark Recycled Gift Paper 4Wrap it up!

4 million tons of wrapping paper is thrown away annually. Since most traditional wrapping paper isn’t recyclable, we’ve been on a mission to find a gift wrap that we can stand behind!

Meet: Wrappily! Based on the beautiful island of Maui, Hawaii, the Wrappily team work together with local artists to design a beautiful collection of eco-friendly gift wrap.They offer individual sheets of wrapping paper printed with a non-toxic soy-based ink on newsprint and made from recycled content that is easily recyclable at the end of life. The sheets are printed with double-sided designs on idle news press machines that otherwise would have gone unused. We love the fact that this company is woman-owned and has a closed-loop production methodology. It’s the perfect finishing touch for your eco-friendly gift (plus, it’s just so stinkin’ cute!)

Give-Back Friday

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…. to go shopping that is! More than one in three American adults make it a priority to go shopping on Black Friday, with each shopper expecting to spend, on average, $1,007.24 total–with $637 of that going towards gifts alone. And this frenzy doesn’t just last one day–in fact, 30% of annual retail sales occur between Black Friday and Christmas!

Cheap deals and fast shipping may sound ideal, but Black Friday and the festivities around it can create an extreme amount of packaging waste, shipping emissions, and other negative environmental impacts as mega-companies aim to get more customers to buy more products more quickly.

Dubbed “Black Friday” back in the 1960s, back when account books used pen and ink to record the day’s sales (red ink=losses and black ink=profits) this holiday once stood for the success of small businesses. Today, with new times and new shopping habits, Black Friday has become something distinctly different. The sad truth is that Black Friday has become less about the spirit of giving gifts, and more about “how much” for “how little” you can get. That’s why this year, we’re on a mission to do things differently–converting Black Friday from a day of excess, into a day of intention.

This “Give-Back Friday” at EarthHero, we’re offering a 20% off discount–but with a twist. We’re putting the power in your hands, letting you choose what % of that 20% discount you’d like to apply to your order of sustainable products, and what % you’d like for us to donate to environmental organizations. We’ve chosen 3 non-profits that go the extra mile to promote sustainability in three key categories–education, conservation, and policy. After you shop our green gift boxes, sustainable starter kits, and thousands of eco-friendly stocking stuffers, you’ll find a unique option on the checkout page. A slider will allow you to choose exactly how much you’d like to donate or discount, and you’ll get to choose the non-profit you’d like to give your donation to!

55% percent of Americans shopped in stores or online during Thanksgiving weekend (2015, National Retail Federation). Can you imagine if every one of those purchases gave back to our planet, instead of just taking from it? Read on to see what non-profits we’re giving back to this holiday season–and pick which one you want to share in your Black Friday savings!

Friends of the Earth – Policy

Friends of the Earth (FOE) gets directly involved in policies that truly affect our planet. By political action and grassroots movements, they expose those who are endangering our planet’s health for their own corporate profit or special interests. FOE pushes for reforms that are truly needed–not just easy. Over their 47 year history, three guiding principles have shaped Friends of the Earth; being a bold and fearless advocate for positive change, fighting for systemic transformation through strategic reforms, and organizing & building long-term political powers that will prioritize environmental reform in today’s world.

Their specific initiatives include….

  • Defending the EPA and strengthening other regulatory agencies to protect public health from corporate pollution
  • Protecting organic agriculture, with an emphasis on making sustainable and healthy food available to everyone
  • Fighting against trade deals that undermine democratic processes
  • Promoting community-controlled clean energy solutions that alleviate poverty
  • Empowering people globally to hold financial institutions accountable for destroying tropical rainforests and other environmental sites
  • Pushing public institutions to work to improve the lives, livelihoods, and habitats of people worldwide
  • Supporting community efforts to protect our oceans from fossil fuel projects, including export terminals and coal plants

FOE is a bold voice for justice, and for the planet, using policy as a force for good. Through the power of their grassroots members and donations, they were able to encourage the world’s largest garden retailers, including Home Depot, Lowe’s, Walmart, Costco, and 135 others, to phase out neonicotinoid pesticides, which are shown to correlate with declining bee populations. This is just one of many impactful steps in their effort to change policy. If you choose to donate to this forward-thinking non-profit, your money will go towards fueling the fight to protect people and the planet–not corporate profit. Learn more about FOE here!

Sustainable Packaging Coalition – Education

The Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) is the leading voice on sustainable packaging–developing tools, applications, and services to help communities and companies take meaningful action towards sustainability, specifically in packaging. This membership-based collaborative believes that today’s industry is capable of having more sustainable packaging, and uses education to bring tactical solutions to companies that need them. They believe  in packaging that is non-toxic, effectively recovered, optimized for efficiency, sourced responsibly, and low-impact.

Their specific projects include…

  • How2Recycle Label: the SPC aims to make recycling easier with their next-generation packaging-recycling label, which uses clear and concise language to show consumers how to properly dispose of and recycle their products. Because there is no current “standard” for recycling labels, and recycling information can be hard to understand, this labeling system plays a critical role in the recovery of recyclable materials.
  • Online and in-person training courses which focus on the essentials of sustainable packaging and how companies can implement better packaging solutions
  • How2Compost: this standardized on-package label helps consumers know if a package is BPI-certified compostable, taking the guesswork out. They hope that reducing confusion will improve soil health through increased availability and quality of compostable materials, and improve the reliability of compostability claims.
  • ASTRX: ASTRX, or Applying Systems Thinking to Recycling, aims to build up the recycling industry through technological advances, hoping to deliver more high-quality recyclables to the supply chain

When you donate to the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, you support the quest for increased use of sustainable packaging through research, education, and knowledge-sharing. Learn more about the Sustainable Packaging Coalition here!

Ocean ConservancyConservation

Ocean Conservancy works with you to protect the ocean from today’s greatest environmental challenges–creating science-based solutions for a healthier ocean, and planet. By looking at long-term (and short-term) solutions, they hope to enact change at multiple levels, from coastal cities, to garbage patches, and much more.

Since they were founded back in 1972, the Ocean Conservancy has accomplished incredible feats for whales and wildlife, local communities, and of course, our ocean. One of their first initiatives was the Whale Protection Fund, protesting commercial whaling by countries like Russia and Japan. Through advocacy, volunteer support, and investments, they launched petitions and ran ads in newspapers to increase awareness about the whaling industry. In 1982, they succeeded, and the International Whaling Commission banned commercial whaling.

Since then, they have slowly shifted from protecting individual species like whales, seals, and sea turtles, to protecting entire habitats. They called this an “ecosystem based approach” with a focus on conservation. This led to the creation of the International Coastal Cleanup in 1986, which now works with millions of volunteers around the globe each year to tackle ocean and habitat pollution.

Their specific initiatives include…

  • Protecting local communities and wildlife from ocean acidification
  • Promoting funding for and attention towards the ocean in policy
  • Employing their Ocean Future Initiative to further understand the interactive effects of climate change and acidification on our ocean
  • Protecting the arctic ecosystem
  • Restoring the Gulf of Mexico
  • Planning strong, sustainable coastal communities that can live alongside healthy ocean habitats
  • Reducing overfishing and rebuilding vulnerable fish populations
  • Reducing the amount of trash and pollutions in our seas

If you choose to donate to the Ocean Conservancy, your donation will go towards the amazing initiatives above, working to save the ocean from ongoing threats that can impact us all. Learn more about the Ocean Conservancy here!

Now that you’ve heard a bit about the awesome non-profits joining us this “Give-Back Friday”, be sure to share with friends and family how you’re tackling the holidays in a more sustainable way. You can shop all your favorite sustainable goodies, from upcycled headphones to recycled plastic kids toys, and feel good knowing that your purchase was made in a way that gives back to the Earth. Plus, you get to choose just how much to donate–so the power is in your hands!

What non-profit will you be supporting when you shop with us this Black Friday?

 

How-To Host an Eco-Friendly Holiday Party

Plan it Out

It’s that time of year. The holidays are here, and for many of us that means a whole lotta cooking, cleaning, and of course, eating! Whether that means creating entirely vegan meals to trying out the elusive Turducken, we’re here to help you make the whole season a little more sustainable!

Tell Everyone

You’re an eco-friendly superstar; your friends and family just don’t know it yet. Get everyone excited about their upcoming sustainable holiday party by sending out personalized invites. Ditch the wasteful traditional paper cards, and upgrade to our 100% post-consumer paper holiday cards, or send an E-Invite! Your guests will love getting a physical letter in the mail, without the guilt of throwing it away (they’re recyclable!). So shout it from the rooftops, it’s sustainable holiday time!

Shop Local

Your traditional grocery store is probably going to be packed with last minute shoppers fighting over honey hams and canned yams. Don’t join them, beat em’. This year, don’t forget your reusable grocery sacks and veggie produce bags when you head to the local farmer’s market or organic produce store, and buy fresh, pesticide-free fruits and veggies for your dishes. You could even plan your menu around what’s in season, so your meal contains only the ripest, freshest fruits and veggies.

If you can’t make it to your farmers’ market, don’t stress, you can still be sustainable. When picking through produce, go against your gut and don’t pick the pretty stuff (whaaa?). If you’re gonna turn apples into apple pie, select the apples with tiny bruises, or a unique color. These little imperfections often result in produce not being chosen and ending up as food waste before it even leaves the grocery store. By selecting items that look a little funky, you’re reducing waste and still getting great produce for your meal.

Set the Table

You have a 5-star sustainable holiday dinner so far, so don’t fork it up. Say goodbye to all single-use utensils, plates, cups, and napkins, opting instead for reusable alternatives that keep trash from landfills and make your table look great. Go for a rustic vibe with natural bamboo coasters and bamboo utensils

If you have a cabinet overflowing with old cups and plates, instead of shopping this season, go for a repurposed shabby chic look by mixing and match colors and styles. Get old shower curtain holders to use as “napkin rings”, and stick them on your reusable organic cotton napkins for a non-disposable alternative. The conversation should be overflowing–your trash can shouldn’t.

Decor

You want your Thanksgiving/Holiday party to be entirely unique. So why buy mass-produced, disposable holiday decor that only gets used once? Infuse nature into your table decor with everyday items like wildflowers in mason jars, or branches and pinecones placed delicately as centerpieces. Add a few soy-candles or small succulents to the mix, and you have yourself all-natural, sustainable holiday decorations your guests will be gushing over! For a final touch, set the mood with some dinner party vibes with a stylish, upcycled material Vinyl Turntable

The Main Event

Munch Mindfully

When you tell your dinner guests they’ll be enjoying a sustainable meal, you may get a couple grunts and groans from those meat-lovers who haven’t experienced how glorious vegan meals can be when prepared well! If this sounds like your sitch, instead of changing your entire menu, simply substitute one classic dish with a vegan option (like a cashew cream Green Bean Casserole, yum!). When you incorporate more veggies and less meat into dishes, you help reduce water consumption, as a pound of beef requires 100x more water to be produced than a pound of wheat. But at the end of the day, it’s all about steps in the right direction–so the priority is to look for seasonal, fresh, and plastic-free packaged food (when possible!) that you know your family and friends will love. 

When it comes to passing the mashed potatoes, only put on your plate what you know you’ll be able to finish (you can always go back for seconds!). By joining the Clean Plate Club, you reduce the amount of half-eaten food that ends up in the trashcan, and maximize the amount of yummy leftovers! Take it a step further and get yourself a compost bin and bags, so your guests can compost any potential leftovers. 

Get Sipping Sustainably

No matter what you’re sipping, opt for a package free alternative to plastic bottles or aluminum cans. If you absolutely need single-use drinks, make sure you provide a labeled recycling bin for your guests. When it comes to water, give everyone a stainless steel pint glass, or even compostable cups, set pitchers of filtered sink water or homemade soda water out, and everyone will have a refreshing drink in between bites of stuffing.

If “dinner party” sounds a lot like “wine” to you, search for biodynamic wines that are low-impact on the planet. Make sure you recycle those wine bottles though! Plus, keep everyones wine chilled all night with insulated wine tumblers

If your guests prefer a chilly 6-pack of beer, we have a zero-waste way to keep everyone refreshed. Instead of collecting aluminum cans and glass beer bottles, grab a insulated steel growler or two and head down to your local brewery. Fill up those bad boys, then relax and have a drink, cause they’ll keep your craft beer icy for up to 120 hours.

Clean Up Green

Plan ahead

After a long day of cooking, cleaning is the last thing you want to do. Make less work for yourself by setting up recycling, compost, and trash bins with clear labels for your guests. By the end of the night, you’ll have less sorting to do, and more time for post-turkey napping. You can use your compost for a new garden, or simply have it collected. 27% of all American ready-for-consumption food is wasted, costing the economy nearly $48 billion. By encouraging friends and family to take home leftovers and compost the rest, you can help reduce the amount of food that ends up in the landfill!

Go with non-toxic utensils and serving items, made from materials like silicone or bamboo that are machine washable, so you can just toss those in with the rest of your dirty dishes. But before you press start, there’s a green way to machine wash. Skip the pre-rinse, and lower the heat for a more energy friendly clean. For the rest of the house, pick your favorite toxin-free natural cleaner product, and you’ll have a 100% green clean.

Leftovers

Whether you’re giving leftovers to guests that night, keeping them in your fridge for a snack, or having a Black Friday leftover party, you’re gonna want to keep them fresh. For items like soup and gravy, try a stainless steel food canister, vacuum sealed for maximum taste the next day. Cover your bowls, dishes, and pies with Bee’s Wrap, a natural alternative to plastic wrap that also keeps bread and cheese ready to eat. For everything else, toss the leftovers into a molded bamboo bowl, with an easy on and off lid for simple storing and snacking. Our favorite leftover hack? Stasher’s silicone bags. They’re freezer safe, oven safe, sous vide safe, dishwasher safe, and come in a variety of sizes to stash everything from leftover turkey to the smallest of snacks.

You’re bound to have leftovers after cooking, but have you ever thought of making another dish with those leftovers? We promise, it’s simple. As you cut veggies, debone meat, and season stuffing, throw any and all edible scraps into a large soup pot with water, and let it simmer while you continue cooking. After dinner you’ll have a delicious veggie or turkey broth soup with all the flavors of Thanksgiving, and way less food scraps to throw away. Everybody wins.

That’s a Wrap!

The house is clean, bellies are full, and leftovers are ready in the fridge. Another holiday season for the books, but with a green twist! Now that you’ve got the skills for sustainable holiday hosting, share what you’ve learned with friends and family for maximum impact. Together we can  encourage the people in your life to carry the new tradition of sustainable holiday parties to this new year! 

Share some of your favorite ways to make the holidays a little more sustainable in the comments below!

What is a conscious consumer?

Trying to enjoy your favorite tv show? Que advertisement. Scrolling down your social media feed? Another advertisement. Checking your mail to see if your sweet grandma sent you a nice letter? BOOM… advertisement!

We can’t seem to go anywhere or do anything without being told to shop here, buy that, or consume this. It’s the status quo of our society, to buy, buy, buy–without considering the impact of our purchases. Luckily for all of us, there is a global movement happening called conscious consumerism.

With conscious consumerism you can still shop–but in a way that is a whole lot kinder on the planet. We can all do better when it comes to shopping, so to help you out, we’ve come up with some handy tips to lead you down the path of righteousness. Read on to learn about the movement, and how you can become a conscious consumer!

What you’ll learn:

  • What a conscious consumer is, and how to contribute!
  • Understand the tools and third-party certifications necessary to identify ethical & sustainable products
  • Ways to implement being a conscious consumer into your everyday life

What is a conscious consumer?

Recent studies show that 67% of Americans believe that progress on social and environmental issues will slow down without government regulation, and their confidence in national organizations to act on environmental issues is low. As a result, 43% of consumers believe that individual action has the greatest potential to solve social and environmental issues.

Despite this fact, in recent years, our global consumer culture has continued to accelerate towards a relentless focus on quantity and convenience–wanting the most products, for the least amount of money, delivered in the quickest time frame. While it may seem like more = better, when it comes to our impact on the planet, the status quo for how we currently consume is taking us down an irreversible path (animal extinction, more toxins, more waste, and yes, global warming!)

But don’t panic. A new wave of consumers have been taking the global markets by storm, calling themselves “conscious consumers”, aka “agents of change who consider the social, environmental, ecological, and political impact of both buying and boycotting products.” Simply put, they ask the question: “Can my individual actions make a difference?” and believe it or not, the answer is “YES!”

Price vs Cost

Look back 150 years, and you’ll see a very different picture of global trade. Almost all countries were responsible for making their own products, and those they were unable to make required time and labor intensive practices to be sourced from another country. Flash forward to recent times, and most large factories (think Nike) have been moved into lesser developed countries–often with different currency rates and costs of living. This makes it difficult to accurately judge what price is fair for an item made in another country–leading to huge disparities in the amount paid to overseas workers, and the cost of a particular product back in America.

EarthHero Conscious Consumerism

No matter who you are, instinctively, you will always look for the cheapest price–it’s just human nature. But being a conscious consumer means taking the time to consider what kind of negative impact that price could have had on the lives of those who produced it, and the planet. A cheap price is almost never a fair price when you take the time to look at every aspect of sourcing and production.

Transparency in Technology

One of the biggest barriers to becoming a conscious consumer is companies’ unwillingness to share the information needed for you make an ethical shopping decision. All businesses want you to feel like you’re making a positive choice, using buzzwords like “organic”, “natural”, and “fair-trade” to convince the consumer, with one glance at the packaging, that their product is an ethical one. But, the truth is, when you start asking questions, it becomes clear that there’s so much more to being a conscious consumer then just browsing the labels.

EarthHero Conscious Consumer Blog

Technology is breaking the barrier between what brands tell us, and what we can truly learn about their products. From ingredients, to materials sourcing, and even the initiatives the company is involved in, technology and the internet is making it easier for consumers to find out about what’s really going on with a particular brand or product. Educate yourself with environmental blogs, books, and other tools–like the Better World Shopper App!

While there’s tons of resources out there to find companies that are doing good for the planet (shoutout to all of our brands!), the internet is also an awesome place to encourage companies who aren’t meeting the mark to do better. You can write to your local politicians, CEOs, or other representatives, encouraging them to change for the better–or even give them a shoutout on social media. Businesses want you to want to shop with them, but sometimes they just need a push in the right direction!

How-To Be a Conscious Consumer

Did you know that only 1% of our purchased products are still around after 6 months–meaning that 99% of what we buy, we throw away in less than half a year. Ease and convenience has become our guiding principles, and it’s killing the planet. But how can your everyday purchases help turn this around–before it’s too late? Check out some of our favorite daily actions to help you become a conscious consumer!

1. One Step at a Time

Take baby steps! Just being aware of what you buy is a HUGE start! When you first start paying attention to the products in your life, you’re going to feel overwhelmed with how much truly isn’t sustainable. Instead of throwing away everything in your house, make a game plan for what needs to be transitioned immediately, and what you can continue to use for a while before finding a more ethical option. While tossing all your polyester clothes and replacing them with sustainable alternatives sounds like it would be a good move for the planet, it just creates more waste than if you just wore what you already had until it needed to be donated–then replacing it with an ethical version.

If you have plastic products in your life, use them–don’t toss them! Then, when it’s ready to hit the recycling bin, swap it for a better alternative. It’s all about taking small steps, and in no time, you’ll be impressed with just how much has changed thanks to conscious consumerism!

EarthHero Conscious Consumer Blog

2. Third-Party Certifications

It can be hard to trust what a company says, especially if you’ve never heard of the claims they’re flaunting. That’s where third-party certification groups come in–awarding Sustainability Certifications based on rigorous national standards for environmental and social responsibility. This sets a more level playing field for conscious companies, as they can apply for these certifications as a way to prove to the customer their claims are correct–no greenwashing involved.

From certifications around material and ingredients quality, like USDA Certified Organic, GOTS Certified (for organic cotton), and NSF/ANSI 305 (for personal care), to certifications around production such as the OEKO-TEX Standard for chemical-free production, third-party certifications are making it easier to be a conscious consumer.

Some brands are even going the extra mile (well, like EarthHero) and are labeling each product with the third-party certifications they’ve been awarded, alongside other important values–like whether it has plastic-free packaging, or gives back to charity. But whether you’re shopping with the EarthHero community, or just browsing at the mall, keep an eye out for recognizable certification labels!

3. Budget for it

We hear all the time that shopping sustainably and ethically can get pretty pricey, especially for families or anyone on a budget. And we totally understand–while it can cost more to live an ethical lifestyle, it doesn’t necessarily need to be. Why? Something to consider when shopping sustainably is that while it may be more expensive at first, over time it should become less expensive, as you begin to replace single-use products with reusable counterparts.

For example, on average, an American consumer will spend $100 a year on water bottles–while one stainless steel water bottle that will undoubtedly last for several years only costs $25 to $30–and can be filled with free or minimally expensive tap water. In addition, as you become a more conscious consumer, you will tend to simply buy less. Strangely enough, when you ask yourself, “Do I really need this?”, a natural tendency is to just lose interest. In addition, as more conscious consumers speak their piece, and vote with their dollars, the market will shift to reflect more accessible prices on ethical goods.

So, where to start? Our solution for this is budgeting! You may balk at the idea, but once you get into the hang of it, budgeting makes shopping each month easier–and less stressful. Think about what you’re currently spending money on, and split it up into sustainable and unsustainable expenses. Begin to tackle the unsustainable expenses: how can you rebudget your grocery trip to include more organic produce and fewer processed snacks? What expenses can be minimized? Can you reduce your gas expenses by biking or carpooling? Make a monthly plan, and then a yearly plan, for how you can begin transitioning away from certain activities, and leave extra cash aside for the sustainable swaps you’ll be moving towards.

4. Reuse, repurpose, respect!

A conscious consumer is always conscious… but doesn’t always have to consume. One of the most important ways you can be a conscious consumer is simply by not consuming. It’s all about reusing and repurposing what you have, not replacing it with new products. Even the most sustainable product will be less sustainable than using the thing that’s already been sitting in your cabinet waiting to be used. Take it a step further, and utilize what you can in your backyard, town, neighborhood, and city!

Does your city have a bulk store for either food or personal care products? This is an awesome way to be a conscious consumer–without breaking the bank. Just bring your own produce bags and containers to the Whole Foods or other bulk store, and shop plastic-free. Are you located near a community garden, or have a big backyard? Try your hand at growing your own produce or herbs!

You Got This

At the end of the day, being a conscious consumer may take a little extra forethought–but can have some serious impact on the products that come into your life, and the impact those products have on the planet. Plus, it just feels really good! Ethical brands want to show you how truly ethical they are, so utilize the tools they provide you: like third-party certifications, online resources, and the information provided by the companies directly.

There is no better time to get started down the path of being a conscious consumer than now. Not only do we have the holidays coming up, undoubtedly one of the most wasteful times of the year due to product packaging and excessive shopping, but the culture of our country is changing faster than ever. From your daily trip to the supermarket, or all of your holiday gift shopping, there is a sustainable solution out there! All of our EarthHero vetted brands are a great place to start shopping like a conscious consumer, or our Green Gift Boxes!

How do you take the time to be a more conscious consumer? Share your tips and tricks with us below!