Welcome to December! ‘Tis the season for many people to celebrate the holidays—but it’s also the time of year where we see more stories of #ConspiracyofGoodness popping up! From donating winter coats to those in need, to volunteering in soup kitchens, to shoveling snow for a neighbor, people everywhere are spreading #ConspiracyofGoodness vibes this time of year.

A big part of the holiday season for many people is the exchange of tokens big and small to show our affection for others. With gift-giving such a popular tradition, this is also the season of consumerism. But this doesn’t have to be a bad thing! We’re here this month to talk about how we can be more conscious with how we consume and make it a little easier for you to start supporting companies that are a part of the #ConspiracyofGoodness with their work!

Hello new friends! If this is your first edition of the Conspiracy Chronicles, this is Ever Widening Circles’ monthly newsletter that takes a look at some of the world’s biggest problems and celebrates the people taking them on. Better yet, we give you ways you can join in on the #ConspiracyofGoodness yourself! Let’s get into it…

The Problem

The world buys a lot of stuff….

Let’s face it, humans like stuff. Indeed when we’re shopping we get a dopamine hit—the chemical in our brains that helps us feel pleasure. And, when we shop online, we get that reaction not just when we make a purchase, but when we excitedly open our packages when they arrive at our door. (The Atlantic) Suffice to say, it’s a recipe that leads many of us to easily get caught up in the frenzy of holiday sales and shopping.

From Thanksgiving to New Years, Americans throw away 25% more trash. (Stanford) In the United States alone, over 16 million tons of textiles wound up in the waste stream in 2015— that’s a 68% increase from 2000! Add to that 34.5 million tons of plastics (a 35% increase since 2000), and you can probably think of a few Holiday gifts and/or their packaging that made it into those calculations.v(EPA)

How can we do better this holiday season?

It’s estimated this year that the average American will spend $920 on gifts this holiday season. (Investopedia) That’s a lot of purchasing power. And luckily, there are great options available for us to do good with the purchases we need to make this holiday season.

This is becoming easier and easier as companies large and small are focusing in on having a positive impact on people and the planet. You may have heard about something called Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). It’s a business model being adopted by companies to help them become more socially accountable. Very often, CSR programs take the form of volunteer efforts, beneficial supply chain practices, and environmental responsibility. (Investopedia) From Starbucks to Ben & Jerry’s to Patagonia, large companies are finding ways to give back to and improve the world with their work.

But doing good for the world isn’t just for big corporations. Look around, or listen to almost any podcast and you’ll start to notice all kinds of businesses who are mission-driven to have a positive impact on the world with their work!

We’re going to introduce you to a few of them!

Our Featured Thought Leader(s) Tackling the Problem

While this is by no means an exhaustive list, we’ve curated eight of our favorite companies into our 2019 Holiday Gift Guide for you to explore this holiday season!

The companies we’ve featured this year include:

Five North Chocolate

Sustainably sourced Fair Trade Chocolate on a mission to make the world better with our snacking!

Bellcate School Dog Treats

Dog treats baked with love! Their organization helps students with special needs learn long term employment skills!

RoHo

Selling beautiful shoes and accessories handcrafted by Kenyan Artisans, their work supports local artisans and helps their children get educational opportunities.

GroFive

Remarkable expanding sandals (Expandals) that grow with your children’s feet! Your purchase helps children who need shoes receive a pair of expanding sandals of their own.

TerrApparel

Outdoor gear made sustainably. They are creating closed-loop outdoor gear made of 100% recycled materials!

Kind Karma Company

Beautiful jewelry giving homeless and at-risk youth in Toronto a chance to grow. Kind Karma Company works with youth to help end the cycle of poverty.

Naadam 

How do you make cashmere affordable and uplift communities? Why not go straight to the source? Naadam creates beautiful clothing by working with farmers to create affordable cashmere goods.

MADI

Make your next underwear purchase matter! For every purchase you make with MADI they donate an equivalent pair of underwear to women in need.

These are just 8 of the many companies out there doing good for the world with their work. You can check out more companies that are driven by a mission to do good in the B Corporation Directory!

You can also check out our full gift guide with more information and some generous promo codes for Conspiracy Chronicles readers by clicking here!

Things You Can Do!

There are lots of ways for you to become a more conscious consumer this holiday season. Indeed, beyond our purchasing power, we also have the ability to shop smarter (and shop much less). These little acts add up over time to help you have a positive impact on the world!

Here are a few helpful tips we suggest to help you become a more conscious consumer this season:

Ask Ahead of Time!

How many gifts have you been given that you haven’t even used? Those gifts are probably sitting around your house right now, being unused because you feel a little guilty that your Aunt Karen gave it to you. It’s a little unconventional, but this year, why not try making a “would want” list. This could be a list of things that you want or need that you either wouldn’t buy for yourself or can’t afford right now. Make a Google Doc or shared document to share with your family and friends (maybe with links) of what you want and let them choose from that, crossing things out as they go! That way, if you are deciding to do gifts, your loved ones can be sure to get you a great gift, and you’ll be sure to get something you’ll use and appreciate!

Buy Local!

This is a great way to spend a little more consciously. If you have a downtown near you owned by local proprietors, go support them! Were you planning on buying a pair of shoes online? Why not see if your local shoe store carries them? Looking for some great books, or stocking stuffers, try out your local shops! You’ll be reducing the environmental impact your purchases have this year and supporting local families and the local economy!

Give Experiences Instead of Gifts.

This is a great one for people who seem to have all the “stuff” they could possibly use. Getting somebody a giftcard to their favorite restaurant, spa, or mini-getaway is a great way to share some love while reducing the amount of stuff you buy this season.

Shop smart!

Looking for a new bag, shoes, clothes, toilet paper, beauty products, socks, kitty litter, or underwear? Do a little investigating before you buy, for all of these—and almost anything else–there are smaller companies hard at work doing good as they provide great products! Whether they are sustainably sourcing their products, have empowering working conditions, or giving back with your purchase, more and more companies are hard at work proving the #ConspiracyofGoodness is alive and well! With just a little more digging, you’re sure to find a way to have a positive impact with every purchase you need to make.

Last up, we have this great little infographic from the Planted in the Woods Instagram, bloggers who share their practical tips and low waste lifestyle ideas.

Keep up with the community!

Tell us how you’re planning on being a more conscious consumer this season. Have any tips you use? Do you have any favorite resources we should know about? SHARE WITH US!

Follow Ever Widening Circles on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter where we will be posting some of our favorite content and accounts with more helpful tips!

Finally, join the #ConspiracyofGoodness Facebook Group to see what other people are up to and share inspiration you come across.

Follow more from #ConspiracyofGoodness!

Every month we put out an edition of the Conspiracy Chronicles. It’s our newsletter that explores a major issue the world faces, and introduces you to one of the thought leaders tackling the problem! Along the way, we also share some great tips with you on how you can make a difference too!

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Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

COO of Ever Widening Circles, Founder of EWCed

Since 2015, Liesl has been a writer, editor, and the COO at Ever Widening Circles. She is a life-long camera-toting traveler, a global story seeker, and an aspiring—but more often floundering—outdoor enthusiast. She can be found on Instagram @Liesl.UV