Thursday, December 13, 2007

Socially Conscious Online Shopping Guide: Sites and Sales

Disclaimer: If you're looking to order gifts online, please take a good long moment to consider if you can substitute one of a dozen other ways to give more meaning and less stuff-- which will almost always be more socially conscious than ordering new stuff online.

However... if you're going to end up buying new stuff anyway, there are a growing number of great sources online for gifts that are socially conscious and can connect with your values, whether those values are about the environment, fair trade, local business, etc. Read on!

  • Click here to jump to a list of almost 40 sites currently offering holiday sales, out of the almost 3,000 businesses listed in Co-op America's National Green Pages.
    • To be listed in the Green Pages, businesses must demonstrate that they: "Actively use their businesses as tools for positive social change; Run "values-driven" enterprises that operate according to principles of social justice and environmental sustainability; Are socially and environmentally responsible in the way they source, manufacture, and market their products and run their offices and factories; And are committed to developing and employing extraordinary practices that benefit workers, customers, communities, and the environment." To browse the whole National Green Pages, click here. You can use it to find both websites and brick-and-mortar stores.
  • Click here for sites that focus on workers/producers rights-- sites selling products that are fair trade, union-made, sweatshop-free, made in worker cooperatives, etc.
  • Rather than Borders or Barnes and Noble, why not buy from local bookstores? If you can't do it in person, you can order online at, which links small local bookstores, and even offers a gift card that the recipient can use at any of the hundreds of participating stores. (Or if you really must shop corporate, at least install Rovr so 4%-10% of your purchase goes to charity.)
[FYI: Out of the 50+ links on this page, there are four that I have affiliate codes for, and those links will use my affiliate codes. I hope you don't mind!]

What's On Sale

Justice for Workers/Producers
  • Fair Trade (just a few of many, many options)
  • Worker Co-ops and/or Union-Made (via SweatshopWatch):
    • DeMoulin Brothers is an all-union manufacturer who makes band uniforms, as well as formal menswear, including tuxedo pants, jackets, shirts, and bow ties. Their workers are members of UNITE HERE Local 546.
    • Fuerza Unida was founded by former Levi's workers in San Antonio, Texas. They formed a unique women's sewing cooperative that makes shirts (huipiles), pillows and canvas bags.
    • Fair Trade Zone/Nueva Vida is a worker owned cooperative in Nicaragua, which produces t-shirts and camisoles. You can buy their women’s wear products through Maggie Organics
    • HatCo's workers are members of UNITE HERE Locals 128H and 129h
    • Just Shirts sells “quality thoughtfully–designed clothing produced under sweatshop free conditions.” Just Shirts sources all of their products from a worker-owned cooperative in El Salvador.
    • Justice Clothing is a one-stop shop for union-made and sweatshop free apparel. They are constantly on the hunt for new lines, styles, and manufacturers who meet their strict criteria, and hope to add an expanded line of house ware products in the near future.
    • Kenneth Gordon makes men's dress shirts. All with Made in USA labels are by members of UNITE HERE Local 2647.
    • Leather Coats Inc. is your home for leather outerwear and accessories. Check out the USA Union Made section. Their workers are members of UNITE HERE Local 73.
    • Protexall is one of the only union-made uniform companies around. They also carry a line of casual men's wear, including pants, shirts, and jackets. Their workers are members of UNITE HERE Local 920.
    • Rage Baby, ALL of Rage Baby's t-shirts are made by the Fair Trade Zone/Nueva Vida a worker-owned cooperative in Nicaragua.
    • Sterlingwear of Boston makes Navy style pea coats. All products are union made by members of UNITE HERE Local 1.
    • Traditions Fair Trade is based in Olympia, Washington and sells men’s dress shirts, sneakers and leather shoes made in four worker-run factories in Argentina.
    • Union House sells union-made clothing made in the U.S., and offers hundreds of clothing items, from denim, golf shirts, jackets, overalls, sweats, underwear, to socks. Screen printing and embroidery available.
    • Union Jeans has a wide selection of your everyday needs including denim shirts. Their workers are members of UFCW Local 1099.
    • The Working World sells buttoned shirts, shoes and other products made in democratic cooperatives in Argentina.
Want other options, including a wide, wide variety of eco-friendly, organic, recycled, etc products? Please search Co-op America's National Green Pages. And if you have great recommendations for other sites, list them in the comments!


JP said...

GreenDeals Daily would be another great site to find sales on eco-friendly products as well as money saving environmental tips (my site).

Marti N. said...

Another great site for socially responsible giving is Half the purchase price of every item goes to a charity doing work in Africa. And you can still give a beautiful gift!

Steven said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steven said...

If you are looking for high quality eco-luxury try Not just cool clothes but earth friendly business ideals as a whole. One of my favorite online boutiques.