The best gifts that give back: an ethical gift guide

Over chips and salsa last month, a friend and I were bemoaning the fact that it’s just impossible to live our lives as ethically as we’d like. Every time we turn around, it seems like we are stepping on the rights of others or contributing to oppression and injustice. If I only buy fair trade chocolate to ensure that I’m not contributing to child trafficking, but I still use my smartphone which is made from child labor, am I really living ethically?

It’s enough to paralyze any would-be world changer to inaction.

But I believe that if enough people make small changes, the world would be a much better place.

With Christmas right around the corner, we have a unique opportunity in shopping for gifts. With each dollar we spend, we can choose to empower others out of poverty or we can serve our bottom line. We can invest in small businesses, or we can continue to feed the beast of Amazon.

I know that not everyone has the means to pay more for fair trade or for handmade items. I recognize the inherent privilege in this post! But everyone can do something, even if it’s just going to your local bookstore for your next read instead of a big box store or Amazon.

Read on for some of my favorite fair trade items from businesses committed to changing the world:


Sudara is an organization that employs women in India seeking to remain free from sex slavery. I love their loungewear, particularly this Leela print, and they also make items for kids and men!

Bath and Body

Thistle Farms is based in Nashville Tennessee and employs survivors of prostitution and trafficking in a residential program. The women run a local cafe as well as make lovely natural products for bath, body, and home! I have one of their candles and room spray and they both smell amazing.

New Creation VA – A Fair Trade Marketplace

Every sale from the New Creation marketplace goes to rescue, restore, empower, and employ victims of trafficking. What I love about them is that they carry several fair trade brands and so have a wide range of products to choose from! Whether you’re looking for coffee, stuffed toys, bags and wallets, jewelry, or home decor, they have something for you!


Although there are a few different fair trade options for shoes, The Root Collective is my favorite! They partner with local artisans in Guatemala to make high quality footwear. I have these flats in mustard and they make my feet so happy! They also have a great selection of boots and sandals.

Clothes for Women

The Mustard Seed Marketplace is my favorite place to shop for fair trade clothing! They have a nice selection from several brands. I particularly love this cranberry swing dress, this long sleeve tee, and his comfy zip pullover. I already own one of their dresses and several pieces of jewelry from them, and I love it all!

Clothes for the whole family

Pact offers sustainable clothes made with organic cotton. Their shirts are so comfortable! I love the wide variety of clothing they have for men and kids too.


Serrv works in over 25 countries to fight global poverty with fair trade and ethical trade. They carry an extensive range of products, but I especially love their gift baskets for foodies! I’m also drooling over their selection of fair trade chocolate and coffee and tea!

No matter who you’re shopping for, I hope you’ve found something here that delights you! Remember:

Thanks! I can't wait to connect with you!

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Sarah K. Butterfield is an author, speaker, and ministry leader who has a heart for empowering women to grow in their faith and be intentional with their time. She and her husband and two boys live in San Diego, where she writes about pursuing a deeper relationship with God in the midst of motherhood.

7 thoughts on “The best gifts that give back: an ethical gift guide

  1. Ouch. Every dollar casts a vote for the world you want. I can’t say I’ve really considered it on a broad level. There are a few companies that I refuse to buy from because of what they stand for, but I have only made those decisions as something comes to my attention. I have not actively investigated the brands and stores that I use every day.

    Thank you for making me think!

    Liked by 1 person

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