21 Feel-Good Gifts from Brands That Give Back
This holiday season, many of us want to give not just to our own friends and families, but also to find ways to keep our consumerism earth-and-society-friendly, too. That’s why we’ve put together a guide that will help you shop for everyone, based on from businesses on Aspiration’s 2018 AIM “Nice List”. AIM is a rating system that uses thousands of data points to give companies a rating for their strong showing in areas such as energy efficiency, employee pay, and workforce diversity—so you can know that who you’re buying from (and what you’re buying) is doing good for your loved ones and the world this year.
Target consistently ranks as a top brand with a positive impact. The company has a strong commitment to ethical business practices—like voluntarily upping the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2020—and environmental stewardship—like reducing 10 percent of their water use and diverting 70 percent by 2020.
With half of its 1,800+ locations run by female store managers, Target has also shown great initiative as an advocate for diverse and inclusive leadership. CEO Brian Cornell has committed to advancing women in leadership in hopes that “our next generation of leaders won’t remember a time when it was unusual for women to lead at all levels.” For Target, this commitment is becoming a reality, with women making up more than 46 percent of the company's senior officials, and their racial diversity among leadership exceeding industry and national averages—making the store an all-around great place to pick up feel-good gifts.
Think finding a gift that supports local businesses is impossible at a national chain? Not at Target. The SpaFinder gift cards can be used at a variety of spas and salons nationwide, many of which are small businesses.
Price: $25 to $100
For any host or hostess with the mostest, this monogrammed beer or wine flight made from sustainable bamboo is an awesome gift (and way to say, “Hey, thanks for letting me drink all your booze!”). Pair it with some sustainable beer to be the greenest life of the party this holiday season.
When you’re clutching your hard-won, crazy good holiday deals at Best Buy this year, take solace in the fact that you’re supporting a corporation with impressive initiatives in sustainability, responsible sourcing, and carbon reduction.
Best Buy is also committed to bridging the tech education gap in America--their goal, by 2020, is to prepare 1 million teens from underserved communities for careers in tech each year. The company is setting up Teen Tech Centers across the U.S., creating safe places for kids to learn employable skills like coding, cybersecurity, and information technology support. By 2020, Best Buy hopes to have over 60 Teen Tech Centers open in communities that are not only underserved, but also hit hardest by natural disasters, such as Houston and Puerto Rico.
Ever wished you had Find My iPhone for your keys, wallet, TV remote ... and just about everything else? That’s the idea behind Tile, the attachable Bluetooth device that lets you track anything. Plus, Tiles are 99 percent recyclable and use only one battery per year.
Like a FitBit for your pet, the Poof Pet Tracker doesn’t just let animal lovers track their pets’ location—it also records activity, calorie intake, exercise, sleep habits, and more. Plus, the company donates 100 percent of its profits to animal welfare organizations.
This is a great gift for anyone, but especially anyone who loves spending time in the great outdoors. The solar-powered portable bank makes it possible to charge any of your USB-connected devices, like your phone, without leaving a carbon footprint.
Use your hotel points this year to buy gifts from Marriott’s proprietary online store and know your brand loyalty is doing good. Marriott consistently ranks on industry lists for their commitment to environmentalism, diversity, and ethical business.
Marriott’s #LoveTravels campaign has promoted inclusion for LGBTQ travelers, and as of this year is expanding to include their Beyond Barriers movement. Celebrating “those who are actively leading unique strategies to promote inclusion, equality, peace, and human rights,” this next phase of the #LoveTravels campaign will see $500,000 worth of grants from Marriott International provided to groups breaking down barriers that prevent inclusion and safety for travelers. Since its launch in 2014, the campaign has spearheaded a movement within hospitality to highlight diversity and support inclusion.
This is a cool gift for any hardcore survivalists or doomsday preppers in your life. The BioLite consists of three fully solar-powered that can be kept for emergencies, brought on the road, or used every day in outdoor settings like a garage or backyard.
Himalayan salt lamps are said to produce negative ions that positively impact your health by purifying the environment in your home. True or not; they’re definitely a pretty addition to all kinds of home décor styles--and they’re sourced by skilled workers from a mine in Pakistan with almost infinite access to the mineral, so you can give them as gifts guilt-free!
Feeling generous? Give your points directly to a loved one, and they can use them toward flights or hotels for a trip. Bonus points if they plan a sustainable vacation!
Tech giants in Silicon Valley are supposed to be committed to improving the world, but that isn’t always the case. Apple stands out as one company consistently challenging itself to do better, whether among its retail employees and corporate leadership teams or for the supply chain workers in other countries providing parts.
Apple's data centers, retail stores, and corporate offices are run by 100 percent clean energy. In addition, Apple has 23 suppliers also committed to 100 percent clean energy. The company's renewable energy projects have cut greenhouse gas emissions from its global facilities by 54 percent since 2011. One of their bigger projects? How about the new headquarters in Cupertino, California, which gets most of its renewable power from on-site solar panels and biogas fuel cells. As one of the largest companies in the world, Apple's move toward sustainability not only leads to major long-term cost savings for the firm, but sets an example for the rest of world that 100 percent clean energy is achievable.
Apple sells more than just iProducts! The SmartHalo Bike System is a fitness tracker for when you’re on two wheels. Not only does it track your movement, it also doubles as a navigation system and theft alarm. Get one for everyone on your list to help them cut down on their carbon footprints together!
This cool toy is for the techie family on your list. It comes with physical block toys and a plinth that connects to any Apple device. As you balance the shapes on the plinth, you simultaneously build a virtual 3D world on your computer, Apple TV, or iPad. Pretty cool stuff, and a great way to encourage a love of tech and imagination among kids.
For clothes and accessories, Gap and Athleta give you easy options for knocking out your gift list at B Corp companies, or those that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental impact.
By 2020, 80 percent of Athleta's products will be made of sustainable fibers (recycled synthetics, organic cotton, and using more efficient fabric dyeing and finishing techniques). By using recycled fabric for certain products and less water for dyes, Athleta helped divert the equivalent of 14 million plastic bottles from landfills. Athleta is also one of the largest apparel companies to become a certified B Corporation by B Labs, a nonprofit that serves a global movement of people using business as a force for good.
For travelers and campers alike, this packable blanket is a game changer. It’s incredibly lightweight and compresses easily to a 16-inch square when it’s folded up. But it’s also toasty warm, so it’s a lifesaver on chilly airplanes or as an extra layer on a sleeping bag.
It might seem weird to head to the grocery store for a holiday gift, but Whole Foods Market stocks a ton of awesome stuff. Plus, their mission is on point—they’re on the front lines of sustainability (beyond the organic food movement), and each store has a “Take Action Center” available to educate shoppers on pressing local issues.
Whole Foods, long a champion for sustainable and healthy foods, uses their Eco-Scale rating system to similarly rank cleaning supplies sold at their stores based on natural ingredients and “green cleaner” standards. The company has consistently opted to sell only cleaning supplies free of ingredients with significant environmental or safety concerns like phosphates, chlorine, synthetic colors, and more. The Eco-Scale label found in stores conveniently labels products as either orange, yellow, or green, with the best mark describing supplies derived from plant and mineral ingredients and free of petroleum-derived ingredients, as well as full transparency of ingredients verified by third parties.
Whether you want to cap off a gift, avoid arriving to a holiday party empty-handed, or take the edge off family stress, wine is a convenient extra to have on hand during the holidays—especially the fancy-but-affordable kinds. Whole Foods goes out of its way to make wine accessible for the average person.
The coffee industry is incredibly fraught when it comes to sustainability and ethical employment. It’s also a common gift, especially paired with a cute mug or a nice espresso-maker. If you’re grabbing some fancy beans to add to a gift, the best place to get them is Whole Foods, which goes out of its way to stock fair trade varieties.
Membership-based wholesaler Costco is actually a great option if you’re planning to make a big (or small) purchase for one of your gifts. The company offers charitable grants to programs that benefit children, education, and health and human services.
Costco is also well-known for its company culture and treating employees fairly. And for good reason. Costco pays its workers a true living wage and has a track record of promoting individuals within the company. The company just recently announced a new minimum wage of $14, almost double the current federal minimum wage. And according to the company website, "over 70 percent of their warehouse managers began their Costco careers in hourly positions."
If you have the means to really splurge, you might be considering planning a surprise trip for a loved one. Booking through Costco’s travel services means you can coordinate cruises, hotels, rental cars, and even the small stuff like travel immunizations all in the same place. So, you’re not just supporting a quality company, but you’re giving the gift of convenience, too!
A laptop could just be a nice upgrade for someone who’s working with outdated tech, or it could be the thing that empowers them to start a business, write a thesis, become an activist, or organize a movement. The sky’s the limit.
There are a lot of places to pick up your self-care essentials, but the best source for ethical beauty supply is Sephora. The company’s corporate social responsibility mission, Sephora Stands, is specifically committed to supporting “entrepreneurs, communities in transition, Sephora employees, and our planet.”
Launched in 2016, Sephora Stands is the company's broad social impact strategy to inspire confidence and fearlessness among women. "Even in the beauty industry, where most customers are women, female founders are still underrepresented. We see a unique opportunity to draw from our history of working with entrepreneurs to build a supportive community for early-stage female founders,” said Corrie Conrad, head of social impact at Sephora. Another initiative, Clean at Sephora, includes over 2,000 products free of chemicals like oxybenzone and coal tar. In addition, all brands under the Clean at Sephora seal will have less than 1 percent synthetic fragrances.
Candles are another super-popular holiday gift, but not all candles are created equal. Voluspa’s candles are sustainable, eco-friendly, pesticide-free, and never tested on animals. They’re also completely sulfate- and phthalate-free, substances that are harmful to people and environments when burned.
It can be hard to shop skincare without knowing exactly what skin type your intended recipient has, which is why the Kiehl’s Head-to-Toe kit is a great option, since it’s compatible with all skin types. Kiehl’s is also committed to sourcing only sustainable ingredients for their products.
Fragrance manufacturing can often involve the use of harmful chemicals to get just the right scent. Versace is committed to investing in low-impact and energy-efficient technology, in an effort to conduct their business in a way that preserves the environment and minimizes pollution.
The Aspiration Nice List is based on data from Aspiration Impact Measurement (AIM), a revolutionary offering from Aspiration that, for the first time ever, allows Americans to see their personal sustainability scores and make shopping decisions with a conscience every day. AIM allows customers to see their own personal sustainability scores within Aspiration’s mobile app, based on their debit card transactions. AIM scores are calculated using a proprietary algorithm that examines more than 75,000 data points including diversity, employee pay, energy efficiency, carbon reductions and more.