An Ethical Gift Guide for the Holiday Season

The holidays are drawing near and people are piling into stores to buy gifts for loved ones. This is a time of giving, but have you ever thought about buying your holiday gifts from companies that give back?

One of my goals is to start thinking more about where the products I buy come from. Yes, it’s easy to pop into Target to buy a gift for my husband, but is easy always the best choice? Don’t we have a responsibility as consumers to support companies that support our values?

holidayI’ve made a commit to use my purchasing power to support companies that are making a positive impact in the world this season. Any gifts that I do not make myself will be purchased from ethical companies. The more we support these companies, the more others will begin to adopt similar programs. Using your buying power to support companies that treat their employees well and give back to the community will go a long way to show other companies what we the consumers want.

Here are a list of a few companies you might consider buying gifts from this holiday season.


TOMS is a shoe and eyewear company that has been gaining in popularity in the past couple years. TOMS has a one to one giving policy that means for every item you buy they help one person in need. They provide shoes to children in more than 60 countries. That means if you buy a pair of shoes from TOMS they’ll give a child a pair of shoes. This is important because shoes protect the children from getting cuts and infections on their feet. Often times shoes are required to attend school, so having footwear allows them to get an education. It also helps build a child’s sense of self confidence.

TOMS has a similar program with their eyewear. For every pair of glasses you purchase, they help one person restore their sight. This can be done by simply providing them with prescription glasses that they couldn’t afford. They also help people get cataract surgery and get treatment for other eye diseases.

All and all I think they are both good programs. I encourage you to check out TOMS online to see if they sell anything that might be suitable for someone on your holiday shopping list and feel confident that your purchase will also be extended to someone else in need. Check out TOMS site here.

logoIf one to one programs are what your interested in, I’d also like to draw your attention to an eyewear shop called Warby Parker. Like TOMS, Warby Parker has a one to one giving program. For every pair of glasses you buy they provide a pair of glasses to someone who doesn’t have access to affordable prescription glasses through partnership programs with organizations like VisionSpring. The programs that they partner with don’t just provide eyeglasses. They also provide entrepreneurship training to help people start companies that sell affordable glasses in their communities. People receive the gift of sight and training to help them become self sufficient. Check out Warby Parker, their glasses, their mission, and their story here.

logosoleRebels is a shoe company with a conscious. Started in an Ethiopian community where many were out of work, this shoe company pledges to pay it’s workers well. The average worker makes more than 200% higher wage than the industry average. They also give their workers other benefits like transportation and access to healthcare. soleRebels shoes are made from sustainable and recycled materials, like old tires. Traditional artisan techniques are used to make these unique shoes. I commend this company for its commitment to improve the area it is headquartered in. Find out more about soleRebels here.

noonday-collection-logoNoonday Collection is a company that sells jewelry and accessories made by artisans from nine different countries. Working with Noonday Collections allows them to make more money than they otherwise would’ve, giving them the opportunity to send their children to school, live in better conditions, and even expand their businesses to employ others. You can find out more about Noonday Collections and their mission here.

logoWe Wood makes unique watches made from wood. I’ve never seen anything like them. The bands and faces are made from wood. They also have a tree planting program to help restore the worlds’ forests. Since 2010 We Wood has planted more than 250,000 trees in deforested and devastated areas. That’s pretty darn good. If you are thinking about getting someone a watch for the holidays definitely check them out. Find out more here.

oop_logo_snow_01I’m a writer and a bit of a book nerd so I’m really into this company. Out of Print sells T-shirts based on classic books. They’ve got some pretty cool shirts that would be perfect for your bookish friends and family. Wait it gets even better. For each product sold, one book is donated to a community in need through their partner Books For Africa. That’s great. Find out more about Out of Print and check out their cool shirts here.

Do you know any companies you’d like to add to this list? Share them with us in the comments below.

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A Challenge to do Less

Technology allows us to do more and more, but lately I’ve been wondering if that really is a good idea. Last week, I sat down to watch a movie on Netflix that I’d been really wanting to see. It was good, but I found myself feeling antsy. I’m so used to being online checking something constantly that it’s difficult for me to sit and enjoy a movie without doing something else at the same time.


Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, and email were all calling out to be checked during that two-hour movie, but I’d decided that I wouldn’t succumb. I wanted to pay full attention to what was happening in the story. There was a time in my life when that would’ve been easy, but now it seemed to be a huge challenge.

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Are the Herbal Supplements You’re Taking a Waste of Money?

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Tom Kha Gai

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Ye’abesha Gomen

I first had Ethiopian food when I was in college in Chicago. Right from the beginning I loved it and I wanted everyone I knew to love it too. Here is a simple Ethiopian recipe for collard greens that I really love. Continue reading

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Dal is one on my favorite things. I haven’t posted a recipe in quite awhile and this is a tasty one that I’ve been making a lot recently. It’s great the first day and even better the second as leftovers. I think the lemon juice at the end is what really makes it fantastic. Continue reading

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My father gave me a book for Christmas. It wasn’t really a Christmas present. People like to give my father things. In this case, he met the author. “I met this lady who writes books. She gave me that for you,” he said motioning to the book on the coffee table. Continue reading

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The Power of Less: An Interview with Leo Babauta

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Aloo Gobi

I love this recipe site, Manjula’s Kitchen. Part of what makes it so great is that she has videos that accompany the recipes. I was looking for a recipe to use the potatoes and cauliflower that came in this week’s vegetable box and I found this one on Manjula’s Kitchen. It’s yummy. Continue reading

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Moroccan Sweet Potato Stew

I made this the other day and it was very good. I found the recipe online and then added some more spices to suit my taste.  I served it with rice, but you can also serve it with couscous or bulgar wheat. Continue reading

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