How to Shop Ethically on Black Friday

According to the National Retail Federation, the average American will spend around $700 on Christmas gifts this year. For many, the shopping has already begun.

My family made the decision to do Christmas differently this year. We are attempting to make this holiday 100% ethical by shopping fair trade, small business, and USA made products. This year, we’ve tried to be more mindful of the way we invest our money, but we are still very new at this. We’ve found that, in small towns, fair trade shopping isn’t an easy task.

Regardless, we’ve developed a plan to tackle our Christmas list in a way we can be proud of and that won’t break the bank. I’ve decided to share the information here, because, as you’ve heard me say before, the way you spend your money matters. We, as consumers, have a very loud voice. If we all made an effort to shop responsibly and ethically this year, we could change the world.

Without further ado, here are some tips for shopping ethically on Black Friday.

1.) Avoid the mall, if possible!

Many stores you will find in the mall contain brands with very little transparency, meaning it’s difficult to find out who made the products and where they were manufactured. JCPenny, Macy’s, Dillard’s, Aeropostale, and other popular chains don’t appear to care much about the humans behind their products. This does not mean that you can’t find ethical gifts in their stores, however. A quick Google search can go a long way when trying to decide whether or not to make a purchase. Brands that are USA made and/or organic are usually a good bet. Patagonia and Prana both sell fair trade merchandise. Alex and Ani bracelets are American made with love and can probably be found in more than one store in your mall. WigWam and Maglite are two other companies that are American made and readily available at many shopping locations.

2.) Think outside of the box

Your Christmas gifts don’t always need to include soaps, lotions, scarves, candles, and all your other typical gift clichés. Go to your local health food store and pick up fair trade chocolate and tea as stocking stuffers! Hit up your local nursery for a gorgeous indoor plant for your green thumbed friends. Purchase concert tickets, ice skating passes, or spa days so that you can share an amazing experience with your loved ones! For your friends and family who seem to have everything, consider making a donation in their honor. For example, there are several organizations through which you can donate chickens, hogs, bees, and more to families in need. Be original, think outside of the box, and give awesome unique gifts that will be memorable.

3.) Search for online deals

This is how hubby and I will be doing the majority of our shopping. We’ve found several fair trade companies we love and trust and we will definitely be keeping an eye out for Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. Some of these companies include PACT, Mitscoots, Love Your Melon, The Root Collective, Krochet Kids, and Trades of Hope. When searching for fair trade companies online, always click on their “About Us” section to learn more and look for the Fair Trade certified logo, typically at the bottom of the webpage.

4.) Support small business

Our little city is blessed with a plethora of unique and beautiful small businesses. We enjoy supporting our local artists, designers, and entrepreneurs. By shopping small, you can feel good about supporting your local economy … and the area entrepreneurs will appreciate your business because they need cash for Christmas shopping, too! So, instead of fighting the crowds at Bath and Body Works, find some nice handmade soap. Buy an original piece of artwork. Purchase handmade scarves from a friend. Go crazy investing in people, not corporations!


I hope you’ve found this to be helpful! As I said, I am new at this whole ethical shopping thing. Last Christmas, it didn’t even cross my mind to check tags and see where my purchases were made. Please spread the word about #fairtrade!

“Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.”  -Anna Lappe

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