Saturday, November 26, 2011

For the Socially-Conscious Consumer (Holiday Gift Guide 2011)

It's Small Business Saturday, everyone! I hope that during your pursuit of pretty and other cool things, you'll consider supporting a small business (they, along with working and middle class families are the backbone of America, after all!) today and throughout the year. As you well know, I, like many others, tend to patronize large businesses when I'm doing my shopping. I think this year, though, I'll make a strong effort to spend some of my hard-earned dollars at smaller businesses, so even though today is the actual Small Business Saturday, be ready to see that phrase pop up throughout 2012, as I explore small businesses in San Diego and wherever I may happen to be. Also, if you're a small business owner who thinks our readership might be interested in what you have to offer, shoot me an email. Maybe we can feature you here, in our small corner of 'net.

Until then, here's our next installment of the 2011 Holiday Gift Guide. This time around, we're looking out to give you some suggestions for gifting that socially-conscious and conscientious friend of yours (you know, the one who's always signing online petitions to save endangered species and fight human trafficking, re-tweeting Doctors Without Borders, and coming by to gather your canned goods for the local food drive? Yeah, we know him/her too. ^_^)

For the Socially-Conscious Consumer:

1.  Future:Standard: Most of you have seen my posts regarding Future:Standard before. I love the concept of sustainable and socially-conscious clothing. I'm dying over the dress pictured above (the Mongolian Tweed Cocktail Dress). The Good: shop from this online women’s apparel retail shop that features solely humanitarian and environmentally-friendly brands and give back to 1% for the Planet.

2. Leoluca Handbags: Is it just me, or would that handbag (pictured above) look great with the tweed dress from Future:Standard? The Good: This high-end line of handbags is 100% designed, sourced and manufactured in the USA(which means they're helping support the employment and livelihoods of people who are being paid fair-trade wages, etc) from two California-based best friends.

3. MusiCares: We joke all the time about starving artists - but often forget that it's a reality for many who choose to enrich the lives of others through their art. The Good: MusiCares works to provide a social safety net for musicians and others who work in the music industry. Help a music-lover in your life show their appreciation. Purchase a T-shirt to support the efforts of the GRAMMY MusiCares Foundation.

4. Jedidiah: Some of you may remember when I won a t-shirt from this company via a Twitter contest a few weeks back. I love the tee, and even more, love the fact that all the proceeds of every sale goes to helping partner charities. The Good: Purchase any clothing item and help build an outreach center for homeless youth in NYC through StandUp for Kids. Also, on Black Friday – Cyber Monday, receive complimentary shipping and a complimentary gift with every purchase.

5. The Honest Kitchen: Are you an animal-lover? Do you count a furry, four-footed friend as a member of your family? Check out the range of healthy, high quality pet foods provided by this business. The Good: Purchase holiday treat packs of raw, wholesome foods for your pets and give back to a range of animal-focused charities through their Pawlanthropy program.

6. The Intersection Event: Is there a budding social entrepreneur on your list – or a busy executive who wants to learn how to use their business success to give back? Consider getting them tickets to The Intersection Event at Pixar Headquarters in January, feature speakers such as: actress and UNICEF ambassador, Susan Sarandon; technology expert and CTO of Walt Disney, Greg Brandeau; design connoisseur and CEO of IDEO, Tim Brown; the entrepreneurial founder of AOL, Steve Case; passionate leader and VP of Google, Marissa Mayer; social activist and SVP of World Vision International, Dr. Chris Pitt; computer scientist and President of Pixar Animation Studios, Dr. Ed Catmull and more.

7. GIVEN: Graphic tees are always an easy gift, and here's another source for some that help others while showing off great design. The Good: Purchase a T-shirt and help eliminate famine in the Horn of Africa. Men’s and women’s available. Supports World Vision.

8. The Paradigm Project: You could go to the local big-box store and buy any number of attractive ornaments that are perfectly serviceable for decorating your tree. But imagine one that would actually change the lives of an entire family? The Good: Purchase a Christmas Tree ornament and a stove will be given to a family in Africa, saving $280 of local income, 1,300 hours of time, 33 trees and a 60% reduction of toxic smoke inside their home.

9. Rain Tees: Is there a tree-hugger in your life? Or even a kid who likes to climb trees, play in the shade of trees, or has found refuge in the branches of a tree? Then consider getting them a shirt that stands in solidarity with trees - and the good of all living things on the planet. The Good: Purchase a T-shirt and plant a tree in an area of deforestation.

10. Phoenix Activewear: We all make those resolutions. You can help your friends and family take a step closer to actually fulfilling them. The Good: For the gym-lover on your list, shop this line of activewear that is 100% designed, sources and manufactured in the USA (jobs, jobs, jobs. 'nuff said).

Hope those gave you some good gift ideas (heh, sorry, sometimes I can't help myself). There are lots of other great small businesses working to promote positive change in the world - if you know of one you think people should consider, tell us about 'em below!


  1. Love the Leoluca handbag! For the past few years I've been trying to be more conscious of supporting companies whos goods are made in the USA. It's so important to help keep our fellow Americans in business! Thanks for recognizing the "little guy" cause I'm hoping to be one of them someday!

  2. wow! i hadnt heard of these. i really really like the stove one.

  3. Like the handbag!  Another great local handbag/leather goods company is "Dean" in LA.  Not sure how socially friendly they are, but they are local and they do use old leather jackets to make into some of their bags.
    I'm always a sucker for Patagonia.  While I know that some (much?) of their clothing is made in other countries but not in sweatshops, Yvonne Chouinard (the founder) is such an amazing person and the company is really into corporate responsibility (seems like an oxymoron).
    KIVA is a good gift - my sister-in-law gave us a donation that we could invest and it's a gift that keeps on giving.

  4. Love Kiva. =) And love corporate responsibility too!