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The holiday shopping season is roaring in! If you're like many people, you probably look forward to picking out amazing gifts to give to friends, family, and coworkers. You might also have a little tinge of dread coming over you as you think of the responsibility that comes with picking out meaningful gifts that make sincere statements. Holiday shopping can be especially challenging if you try to live an eco-conscious, socially responsible lifestyle. A few years ago, I started really doing my research to make sure that the gifts I was giving to people in my life represented my principles about how to treat the earth and other people. Are you looking for how to find ethically sourced holiday gifts? Here is your quick gift-giving guide for sharing ethically sourced gifts.

 

Chocolate

Chocolate is definitely one of the most popular gift options. This is a great options if you're looking for stocking stuffers to give at the office or hand out to family members. Of course, it's really important to be an educated consumer when it comes to buying chocolate if giving ethical gifts is your goal. Most of the brand-name chocolates out there are created using what some might consider unfair or unethical trade practices. You'll want to make sure that you're looking for a "Fair Trade" label when shopping for chocolates. This label ensures that the chocolate you're buying isn't made from cocoa that is harvested using forced labor or child labor. It also means that the cocoa was bought directly from a democratically controlled co-operative of small scale farmers. The Fair Trade concept allows farmers and workers to have more control over their livelihoods and enjoy higher percentages of export revenues. Fair Trade chocolate is a great gift idea because you'll find everything from basic bars of dark chocolate to fancy little confections.

 

Coffee

Giving the gift of coffee is a great way to ensure that your friends, family or coworkers can enjoy something warm and delicious to sip in the upcoming winter months. Coffee is a great gift to give alone or add to a festive gift basket. Shopping for ethical coffee is very similar to shopping for ethical chocolate. Again, most mainstream coffee brands haven't been awarded the free-trade label. The good news is that there are many smaller coffee brands that offer Fair Trade options - and isn't supporting a small business a great thing to do anyway? There are almost 500 Fair Trade brands available to buy in North America today. You can choose to gift the people in your life with Fair Trade coffee that's ground, whole been coffee or in K-cup form. 


Jewelry

Thinking of giving jewelry as gifts this holiday season? It's so important to be careful about how the jewelry you pick is sourced. Much of the "fashion jewelry" and "costume jewelry" available from popular retailers are hiding some dark secrets. Much of the inexpensive jewelry out there actually contains dangerous levels of lead and other carcinogens. Even luxury jewelry isn't without its problems. Many diamonds and other stones aren't sourced ethically. Be sure to only purchase stones that are labeled as conflict-free. This ensures that the people sourcing the diamonds are being fairly compensated and retaining some of the profits. One of the best ways to avoid ethical issues with jewelry is to shop from Fair Trade vendors that actually bring jobs and opportunities to communities around the world. In addition to helping others, these handcrafted jewelry pieces make great gifts because they come from very interesting places on the globe and have great stories behind them.

 

Clothing

The holidays are the time of year when many retailers trot out low-priced clothing and accessories. It can be tempting to grab some super-cheap clothes to give as gifts when you're rushing through the mall in search of some good holiday finds. However, it's really important to think of the long-term impact of buying cheap clothing as holiday gifts. There's a good chance these clothes will just end up in the trash in a few days, week, or months - especially when you consider that cheaply made clothing tends to have a very short shelf life. In addition, do you really think the people you give "cheap" clothing to will be all that impressed? If you really want to make a statement and show people you care, not only about them but also about the planet and its people, give some ethically soured clothing. Make this the year you give eco-friendly, USA-made clothing to people. How can you buy clothing made in the USA this holiday season? I'm proud to say that BaliniSports is one of just a handful of brands that makes apparel right here in the America, and also follows strict eco guidelines for dye, pollutants, and water usage during production.

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