Alternatives to Amazon: how to shop ethically and sustainably this holiday season

Taylor Burnfield

tburnfie@uccs.edu 

Amazon.com, the world’s largest online retailer, has faced many controversies in recent years. Amazon has a reputation for treating its workers poorly and the company’s business practices have been known to cause harm to the environment. 

     Amazon is also notorious for selling counterfeit products, as well as products with suspicious ingredients.  

     If you are looking for alternatives to Amazon this holiday season and want to buy ethical and sustainable gifts for your family and friends, the following companies are great options: 

The Earthling Co. 

     The Earthling Co. is a personal care brand that specializes in beauty products made from natural and organic ingredients. They also sell home goods made from sustainable materials. All of their products are sold in recyclable packaging. 

     A portion of the profits made from their sales go toward environmental causes. According to their website, “What happens to our planet, happens to all of us. At the end of the day, we are all Earthlings.” 

Parks Project 

     Parks Project is a clothing company that specializes in T-shirts. They also sell hats, camping supplies and home goods. A portion of their sales go toward funding national park projects in the U.S.  

     Additionally, Parks Project maintains sustainable business practices such as using “7x less water than the average for clothing manufacturers” and manufacturing their products in California, thus “reducing transportation pollution and cutting down on CO2 emissions.” 

Life Without Plastic 

     Life Without Plastic is an online store that began in 2006 by Jay Sinha and Chantal Plamondon. They set out to help consumers reduce unnecessary waste by creating products made from recyclable and biodegradable materials.  

     Life Without Plastic sells items such as home goods and personal care products. Their website also offers a subscription box service that introduces new customers to the plastic-free lifestyle.  

     According to their mission statement, “We feel all businesses have a duty to treat their employees, clients and suppliers in a fair, respectful and compassionate manner.” 

UNICEF Market 

     The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is a humanitarian organization that has existed since 1946. In the late 1990s, the UNICEF Market was created as a way to raise money for global issues.  

     The products sold on UNICEF Market are fair-trade, created by artisans from around the world. The profits made from these products go toward providing food, shelter and medicine for children in developing countries.  

     The market sells a wide-range of products, including clothing, jewelry, home decor and more. Each product provides a brief biography of the artisan who created it, as well as information about which cause the profits go to.  

Done Good 

     Done Good has been called the “Amazon of social good” by Forbes.com. Done Good sells similar items that Amazon does, including electronics, office supplies, home decor, clothing, health and beauty products and kids’ toys.  

     The main difference between Done Good and Amazon is that Done Good only sells brands that “make the world better,” according to their website.  

     Their mission statement says, “To us, ‘good for people’ means empowering workers, paying fair wages free of trafficking or child labor and unsafe working conditions. ‘Good for the planet’ means using eco-friendly production processes, using non-toxic, organic, and/or recycled or upcycled materials and taking other significant steps to keep our land, air and water clean.” 

     If you would like to do further research into the companies you buy from, the website Good on You is a great place to start. The website provides a directory of companies and their ratings based on how the company treats its workers and the environment. Now you can holiday shop with more than cheer — you can shop with a clean conscience.  

Photo courtesy of DoneGood.co