The start of the new decade is just weeks away, and its imminence has me reflecting on the last year and creating resolutions for the next one. Over the past few years, I’ve tried to challenge myself to be more intentional with my money and my impact, from buying fair trade and secondhand clothes to looking for ways to cook, store food and live more sustainably. On paper, the changes can seem life-altering, and in some ways they are. Yet the key to making lasting change is to do it incrementally.
At the end of 2020, I want to look back at my year and acknowledge with pride the impact my dollar made on moving the needle a little bit closer to a more compassionate and equitable world. I’m resolving to stretch my budget where I can to buy better and to choose, whenever possible, to buy goods that are fair trade certified, sustainably sourced, made by workers earning a fair wage or created locally. Here are just a few of the brands using commerce to make a social impact across industries. This year, I’m committing to following them and others like them. Are you with me?
I Resolve to: Buy Better Toys
From baby showers to birthday parties to gifts for my own children, the toys I purchase arrive wrapped in plastic and produced by labor I’m not proud to endorse. Fortunately, there are brands taking a more thoughtful approach to how they can use kids’ stuff to make a better world. For example, Finn + Emma’s organic toys, furniture and pajamas are forged from non-toxic, eco-friendly materials, and many of the products come from a women’s artisan collective in Peru. Similarly, For Purpose Kids offers subscription boxes for children to introduce them to purpose, kindness, doing good and helping the earth and its creatures while Creative Action Network sells sticker sheets to fund organizations such as the National Parks Conservation Association.
I Resolve to: Buy Better Beauty Products
The beauty industry has made headlines for the tons of plastic waste it produces. Organizations like LXMI are doing something about it: in addition to transitioning its packaging from a jar to a tube for a smaller carbon footprint, LXMI partners with other companies committed to creating sustainable jobs and maintaining an ethical business. Through its certified organic and fair trade skin care products, LXMI employs women in the Nile River Valley. Equally notable are the efforts of Made by DWC, which sells soaps, bath salts, and more to train and mentor homeless women in L.A.; Soapbox Soaps, which, through soap purchases, donates soap and provides hygiene education; and Thistle Farms, which provides safe habitation and employment for Nashville women recovering from trafficking and addiction through product lines that span from jewelry and essential oils to body products and apparel.
I Resolve to: Buy Better Groceries
Buying better groceries begins at my local grocery stores and food cooperatives, where I can find organic milk, cage-free eggs, and grass-fed beef. Yet national companies can help consumers like me (and you!) make a switch to more sustainably sourced dry food. The toasting good guide holds an arsenal of goods for hosting or gifting while making a serious impact with every purchase.
· Coffee? Central City trains and employs moms to provide them with a path to self-sufficiency.
· Tea? Storehouse Tea, a certified organic and fair trade tea source, provides accessibly-priced tea and employs refugees from Rwanda to do so.
· Soup? Snacks? Check out Women’s Bean Project, which has served over 1,000 women through its holistic women’s employment program.
· Vino? Gifts for Good sells wine (as well as bags, tech, and many other corporate gifts) and supports a total of over 40 nonprofits with every purchase.
Beyond food and gift ideas, the toasting good holiday gift guide can be a good place to start on your 2020 journey to better buying. I am swapping out one product at a time, one purchase at a time, slowing my consumption where I can and putting my money where my passion is. Regardless of where you are on your sustainability journey, may you approach the new annum feeling empowered by the small but powerful ways your dollar can help forge a better world. Cheers!
Curious about some of the products mentioned in this article? Here are a few we think you’ll absolutely love: