This evening, I experienced Costco for the very first time. The sheer magnitude of the place is like a cathedral of consumers. The mega carts, the fluorescent lighting, the members so enthused over giant tubs of peanut butter they almost run you down as flat as the mini crêpe samples generously handed out—all made me feel dizzy with consumerism, a tingling sensation of this is our species? our legacy? in my gut as I walked down aisles stocked high, really high, with sparkly plastic cutlery sets.
Of course, the energy at Costco was amplified x a million because of the holiday madness, the rush of gift giving, and all of the empty consumerism this season stirs inside us, and is expected from us.
For the socially conscious, holiday shopping becomes a series of small pangs. We wonder who made the tchotchke we’re gifting our coworker, and how long before it ends up in a landfill? We are conscious of our consumerism and whom it helps, and whom it hurts. In this world we live in, it’s exhausting.
Don’t call me Scrooge yet. Meaningful gifting is a beautiful exchange. A gift is an offering, an interpretation of a loved one’s persona. There’s nothing more exciting than finding the perfect gift for someone you deeply care about. Thankfully, many brands have taken social, economic, and environmental issues to heart and offer gifts that promote what the season is truly about: helping others.
Conscious consumerism starts by shopping locally, or for items that give back.
Here are a few brands with a conscience that should make it onto your radar this year.
WOODCHUCK: Woodchuck is an environmentally-aware brand that designs beautiful wooden accessories, from flasks to cufflinks to journals to laptop skins to wooden maps. Their mission is simple: 1. Bring nature back to people 2. Bring jobs back to America and 3. Bring quality products back to consumers. With each purchase of a sleek minimal design, Woodchuck will plant a tree. They even send a certificate with the coordinates of your tree’s location. Now that’s something to feel good about!
AXIOLOGY: Finally, a natural organic lipstick that offers a burst of vibrancy in Earth-based tones and practices sustainability! Good for the confidence and good for the planet. Each lipstick is free of chemicals and synthetics and their packaging philosophy is nothing short of admirable. Packaging is sourced from a boutique recycled paper store in Bali, Indonesia. This women-run operation collects trash from all over the island, boils it down into a pulp, and lays it out in the sun to dry. And that’s not all of this cosmetics brand’s practiced integrity. Six percent of annual sales are donated to the Orangutan Foundation International. Perfection.
GLASSY BABY: Gorgeous little things. These babies house tea candles and range in rainbow. Ten percent of every Glassybaby will be donated directly to the White Light Fund to give financial and emotional assistance to those in need. Every color coordinates with a specific cause or charity. Gifting with a heart. Done.
BROTHER VELLIES: Founder Aurora James wanted to introduce the world to her favorite traditional African footwear, while creating and sustaining artisanal jobs within Africa. At the workshop in South Africa, a small group of men and women assemble a few dozen pairs of shoes a day by hand, using techniques refined over multiple generations. The workshop was established in 1963 and is an open space that welcomes artisans of all genders, sexual orientation, backgrounds and tribes. Durable and unique shoes (pretty much the ancestor of the modern desert boot) with a sole.
JUNIPER RIDGE: A perfumery with a motive to interact with nature. Juniper Ridge formulates perfume by distilling and extracting fragrance from wildflowers, plants, bark, moss, mushrooms, and tree trimmings that they harvest on the trail. They want to build a new fragrance language of the American West, to get people interested in the surrounding native species to connect with nature. Each perfume is unique to what is available, a conversation with living, wild ecology and has a harvest number stamp that you can look up online to see your perfume’s exact extraction technique. They never use alien or invasive species and are actively involved in native plant restoration projects. Ten percent of all profit is donated to a portfolio of Western Wilderness Defense organizations. And, quite simply, their perfumes smell complex with rich Earth—just amazing.
MATTHEW READY ACCESSORIES: Sophisticated simplicity contrasted with a heavy metal edge, Matthew Ready’s jewelry showcases his background in fine art as a painter and sculptor. He collaborates with traditional craftsmen, local fabricators, and indigenous skilled artisans to execute his distinguished designs. All accessories are made with intention and purpose; his hand evident in every unique piece. Every object is made to last in the USA from the highest quality of mindfully selected materials.
MR. MERZ: Mr. Merz travels the far corners of the world to find textile treasures with cultural heritage. Globalization has cheapened Turkish textiles into factory made inorganic fabric, destroying the integrity of the traditional art. Anti mass production, Mr. Merz has searched for and found the last hand weaving families of Turkey. The collaboration results are luxurious soft towels made of Gaziantep grown G.O.T.S. (Global Organic Textile Standard) certified cotton, natural dyes, and geometrical patterns in warm hues. Mr. Merz’s collection will enliven your space with color, the softest fabric, and well-intentions.
SANDOVAL AROMATICS: These interior fragrances elevate the senses. Each small batch is handmade in California using nothing but ethically harvested therapeutic grade essential oils, absolutes, and distilled water. Each bottle also contains a crystal charged by the full moon to enhance your health and well-being. Pure bliss spritzed into your living space.
SOMA WATER: Soma believes that access to clean water is a basic human right. That’s why they not only design the sleekest, most beautiful water filter systems, but also donate safe drinking water to over 663 million people. Every time you buy a Soma filter, they donate to water projects in developing countries. On a mission to help end the global water crisis—so inspiring! Just looking at their filters online makes me thirsty. Let’s always be grateful for water, the elixir of life.
NEW MOON CIRCLE JOURNAL: New Moon Circle is a gathering of women in Venice, CA with intentions to nurture and inspire healing. The new moon is an opportunity for new beginnings. This is the time to manifest your dreams surrounded by feminine strength. The journal is a perfect house for the language of your dreams. A beautiful goddess ceremony under the light of the moon.
THE SETTING NEW YORK: A super elegant curated studio space dedicated to beautiful accents for table settings. Nothing is more important than entertaining the people you love. The Setting even hosts intimate gatherings and unique experiences in their own studio. Five percent of every sale is donated to City Harvest and their work to fight hunger in New York City. Now that’s chic.