Where to buy ethical gifts online

December 3rd, 2010 by Cathy Rust Leave a reply »

I don’t know about you, but by the time December 15th rolls around I usually say something like, “What do you mean Christmas is in ten days? How did that happen?” I am no Martha Stewart when it comes to Christmas and organization. I am a self-admitted last minute shopper even though every year I vow that “next year will be different.” Sadly, it never is. This year is even worse because the kids finish school on December 17th. Yikes! I’ve got to have it all done and wrapped (reused gift bags of course!) and tree-ready by the 17th! ? It will never happen. Here’s another confession, I hate shopping at the best of times — so that might partially explain why I don’t get it done.

This year, however, while no different than any other in terms of timing, I am buying more responsibly derived gifts for family and friends. In the last few years more and more shops and websites featuring fair trade and local crafts have been popping up. They feature crafts, clothing, jewelry and mouthwatering comestibles that will alleviate any guilt about buying items in the first place. These websites feature ethically sourced items and/or locally handcrafted items.

Modavanti (October 27, 2018 Update: Modavanti (formerly Ethical Ocean) is now part of DoneGood, a sustainable fashion website based in New York): This is a shopping website that sources items that are ethically produced in one or more categories. By that I mean the website offers six categories of ethical shopping: eco-friendly, fairly traded, organic, people friendly, animal friendly and social change. A product may fall into one or more of these categories. You can shop by ethic or product category from clothing to cosmetics to home and garden. Ethical Ocean has made your shopping even easier by putting together a Gift Guide for Him, Her, Teens, Kids and Babies. How easy is that? Plus you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your home to shop! I’ve found a few items I wouldn’t mind from the produce bags to the organic cotton towels.  For the energy nerd in the house there’s a page on energy-saving devices including, my favourite, the Kill-a-Watt (a must have for any watt counter out there!).

100 Mile Finds: (Note: this website is no longer available). A wonderful local website that focuses on, you guessed it, crafts and local shops that create and/or sell goods within 100 Miles of Toronto (or, 160 KM if you prefer — but it doesn’t sound nearly as good, does it?). This website is both a place to find local shops as well as an online marketplace. There are a lot of talented people out there and some great merchandise. If I won the lottery I’d ask for a Morris B handbag. Not only are there great crafts, clothing and accessories, but also food and drink items like Soma Chocolatemaker, yum. Note: vendors in “List of Vendors” section with a “$” beside their name sell online through their site.

World Wildlife Fund: A great way to give a child a present and donate to a worthy cause at the same time. When you adopt an animal ($40, $30 of which is tax deductible) you receive a stuffed version of the animal and a certificate of adoption.  My 10 year old daughter asks for a World Wildlife donation every year and chooses a different animal to support. I usually ask for “an acre of rainforest.” This year it will be to preserve the habitat of the Kermode or “Spirit Bear” of the Pacific Northwest coast.

Ten Thousand Villages: A fair-trade website (and store with multiple locations across Canada) that helps people in developing countries sell their work and get paid a reasonable wage. This company has been in business since 1952 when Edna Ruth Byler and Ruth Lederach teamed up to sell crafts made by impoverished women from Puerto Rico at the International Mennonite Conference in Basel, Switzerland. More than fifty years later the company’s revenue is over $20 million annually and it is voted “one of the world’s most ethical companies” by Ethisphere and Forbes Magazine. The site sells crafts, clothing, accessories, jewelry and decorative items.

Have a favourite ethical shopping website? Add it in the comments section to this post.

Next up: Ethical shopping off-line….stay-tuned!

If you know of ethical and environmentally-friendly gift sites, please add them in the comments section below.



  1. terry says:

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