10 Ethical Holiday Gift Ideas

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. At Alter Eco we are big believers in making purchases that give to more than just our loved ones. If you are looking for ideas on how you can benefit people and the planet this holiday season, here are ten ways you can make your holiday shopping more ethical.


#1 Look for Fair Trade Certified Products to Ensure Farmers are Being Paid Fairly

The Fair Trade movement is a global initiative that is made up of a diverse network of advocates, businesses, companies, organizations, producers and shoppers who are putting people and the planet first. This centers around paying fair wages to the farmers who produce the ingredients we use. In addition to fair wages, Fair Trade also ensures child labor isn’t being used at any point in the supply chain. It's essential when purchasing products like coffee, chocolate and tea that you keep fair trade in mind, as these industries historically have high rates of child labor.


Alter Eco is proud that we have been 100% Fair Trade since our inception, paying 30% above the Fair Trade cocoa price to provide a sustainable, living income to the producers we partner with. We choose to invest only in Fair Trade Certified farmer cooperatives in countries like Ecuador, who have taken initiatives to eradicate the exploitation of children through government mandates.


#2 Support B Corporations


Businesses registered as B Corporations meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability to balance profit and purpose. Companies that belong to the B-Corp community work toward a healthier environment, lower levels of poverty, reduction in inequality, stronger communities and the creation of more high quality jobs with both dignity and purpose. These companies are redefining what it means to do business by working towards a more inclusive and sustainable economy. Ultimately, B-Corps work hard to have a positive impact on their communities, the environment and their employees.

Alter Eco was created with the intention that businesses should make a positive impact on people and our planet. Alter Eco has proudly been a certified B-Corp since 2009 and has scored the “Best for the World” category for the past seven years, which places us in the top 10% of companies of our size. 


#3 Donate in a Loved One's Name

If you are shopping for someone who has everything already, consider donating in their name. Pick their favorite charity or organization. Some of Alter Eco's favorite charities and organizations include:

  • Pachamama Alliance – This organization is on the front lines working to preserve the Amazon and to protect its indigenous communities.
  • Grow Ahead – Near to our heart, this group works with small-scale farmers to help them address climate change.
  • Project Homeless Connect – This San Francisco organization works to provide services for the local homeless community of the city.
  • World Wildlife Org - One of our favorite groups working to preserve nature and Earth’s incredible biodiversity.


#4 Avoid Single-Use Plastics with Zero Waste Gifts and Homemade Wrapping Paper


The holidays are a wonderful time of year, but they are also a time of year when waste is at a high. (We are looking at you single-use plastic packaging and wrapping paper). When it comes to eco-friendly gift giving, look for companies who employ sustainable practices. Consider gifting things like an energy saving coffee pot, bamboo kitchen utensil set, food items in compostable wrappers (like Alter Eco truffles!), reusable water bottle, recycled cotton linens or sustainable accessories made from materials like hemp, leather and recycled plastic. You can also consider wrapping your holiday gifts using up-cycled materials you probably have lying around your house. Forgo holiday wrapping paper by wrapping your physical gifts in brown paper bags, maps, newspapers, old calendars or a reusable bag. You can also place gifts in reusable mason jars with a colorful holiday bow or ribbon.

#5 Shop Gifts That Give Something Extra


During this season of giving, shop products that give back. There are a host of brands and companies that give back, including us! Whether it’s backpacks, glasses, shoes or socks, pick your product and find a brand that supports a mission you support so you can help give back this holiday season. Need some ideas? Check out our holiday gifts! Each holiday gift box sold plants one tree in the Peruvian Amazon. Learn more about the program here.

#6 Keep it Organic

100% of certified organic products are non-GMO and grown or made without the use of herbicides, ionizing radiation, pesticides, sewage sludge or synthetic fertilizers. Not only is purchasing organic better for you, it’s also better our planet. Organic products are healthier because they keep the land and soil safe from harmful pesticides. Organic foods and products have the added bonus of being better for the health of farmers and their families, as it keeps them away from harmful chemicals.

#7 Rainforest-Friendly Products


The rainforests are incredibly important to us and our planet. It's heartbreaking to see such vital ecosystems like the Amazon Rainforest under constant threat from fires and harmful deforestation. There are numerous companies who are actively working to preserve the Amazon (and unfortunately some that contribute to its destruction). Alter Eco depends on the Amazon to provide an ecosystem to grow our cacao and support the livelihood of the producers we partner with. That's why we work in partnership with the farmers of the Acopagro Cooperative to replant the Peruvian Amazon where we grow cacao. While these projects are small in the grand scheme of the world's largest rainforest, but we hope to inspire other companies to think of ways they can improve their supply chains. 

#8 Businesses that Empower Women


This holiday season, look for companies who support women in the workplace. Whether It's through fair wages or women-owned companies, add some of these options to help empower working women this year. Alter Eco is proud to partner with female-friendly cooperatives, like Fair Trade Alliance Kerala in India, which encourages women to pursue co-op leadership positions.


#9 Choose One

“Choosing one” may not be an option you necessarily think of, but when it comes to holiday shopping, make a list of all your gifts and find one ethical store that will work for all of your gift giving needs this year. It may sound small, but by choosing one store, you will reduce your carbon footprint by avoiding multiple boxes and shipping materials from placing holiday orders on numerous websites. The holidays have become synonymous with giving family and friends way more gifts than they really need, so by choosing one, well thought out, ethical gift, you can give a gift that is just as loved as a bunch of random gifts.

#10 Plant a Tree in the Amazon


Still can’t decide what to get your family and friends? How about planting a tree in their name! Alter Eco works with Pur Projet annually to offset our carbon emissions, and they offer the same opportunity to consumers through purchasing trees in various projects. The trees come with 20 years of protection as part of the deal. 

Start a new holiday tradition this year and begin giving ethical gifts to family, friends, neighbors and loved ones. Happy holidays everyone!

Tag us @alterecosf and show us how you give ethical gifts during the holiday season.

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