The Good Holiday Shopping Guide

Nov 23, 2021
As life starts returning to normal and more forms of recreation are open to everyone, the idea of “revenge spending” has also started gaining traction. It’s the idea of spending frivolously as a way of taking “revenge” on time lost on shopping.

With the holidays approaching, it really is the perfect time to spend on gift shopping and more. But instead of mindlessly throwing your money at everything you see on sale, how about considering a more considerate way of shopping? Like buying goods that are ethically and sustainably produced.

At World Vision Canada, we advocate for the rights of children and the end of the worst forms of child labour – 3D jobs: dangerous, dirty and degrading. One way we support this movement is by promoting brands and products that do not take advantage of children and their vulnerability and take extra steps to avoid child or forced labour.

For the holiday season, we teamed up with Fairtrade Canada, an organization that aims to root out child labour and exploitation, to share five comprehensive guides to help with your good shopping. Whether you’re looking for supplies to fill your home pantry, gifts to treat yourself or a few more stocking stuffers for family and friends, we’ve got you covered.
  1. The Good Grocery List
  2. Ethical & Sustainable Fashion Guide
  3. Ethical Makeup Brands Guide
  4. Fair Trade Chocolate Guide
  5. Fair Trade Tea Guide

1. The Good Grocery List

Holidays are the best time for family gatherings and get-togethers with friends. Nonstop partying, eating and cooking, in short. But when shopping for groceries, do you take into consideration whether a particular brand is associated with unethical labour conditions for its workers, children or adults?

If not, now is the best time to start.
A variety of festive menus arranged decoratively on a wooden table.

Canada imports $3.7 billion in grocery items that are at high risk of being connected to child and forced labour. This accounts for 10 per cent of all food coming into the country, most of which can be found at your local grocery store. Photo: Laura Reinhardt

Look for products from companies participating in ethical certification systems like Fairtrade. Not only do you get high-quality produce by doing so. You also help advocate for better trade conditions and protect the rights of marginalized producers. Other certifications you can trust include Fair for Life, Certified Organic and Equal Exchange.

Chocolate-coated candies, almonds and dried fruits laid out on a wooden serving board.
Food also makes for great holiday gift ideas and they’re even more special when made ethically and sustainably. Photo: Umano

Where to shop? Discovery Organics works with small-scale growers, agricultural co-ops and family farms across British Columbia. Umano is your go-to zero-waste fair trade grocery store, while Everland is a homegrown brand of organic food products. Refer to The Good Grocery List for more options.

2. Ethical & Sustainable Fashion Guide

The fashion industry is another sector with a laundry list of issues among labour and environmental watchdogs. When clothes started getting cheap and revolving on trends that come and go faster than the change in seasons, the number of exploited workers started rising.

Four women walk on a field under the heat of the sun.
Cotton pickers from Kyrgyzstan, where children as young as four years old harvest 20 to 25 kilograms of cotton, according to the International Labor Organization. Photo: Fairtrade Canada

If you care about ethical fashion a lot and would love your friends and family to do the same, why not introduce them to sustainable clothing brands?

The holiday season is the perfect opportunity to give trendy and sustainably made clothes as gifts. Although this could mean paying a little more, you can be sure they have better quality, and no one was exploited in the process of making them.

A woman in a farm, wearing a white wool cable crewneck sweater and a pair of black pants.
Many clothing brands are becoming more conscious of the human and environmental impact of their products. They source fair-trade raw materials such as organic cotton and even use eco-friendly packaging. Photo: Tentree

Where to shop? The Good Tee, a Fairtrade-certified brand, makes clothes using organic cotton. It also supports slower production schedules and ethical working conditions. Other brands you can check out are Tentree and Malleable Jewellers or this Ethical & Sustainable Fashion Guide for a variety of options.

3. Ethical Makeup Brands Guide

Clothing and makeup usually go hand in hand. So, when we talk about sustainable fashion, we can’t forget to touch on the topic of ethical beauty brands as well. These two are tied so closely that they share the same issues – child labour and animal cruelty being a few.

Makeup and skincare products from Haut Cosmetics laid out in a native basket.
Several makeup brands use mica in their products, a raw material linked to child labour and suffering. Homegrown brand Haut Cosmetics offers a variety of products that are naturally sourced and mica-free. Photo: Haut Cosmetics

For conscious consumers, cruelty-free is the way to go. If you’re looking to give makeup and skincare products as gifts this Christmas, make sure you’re buying from brands that don’t benefit from child labour in the sourcing of their raw materials. Be on the lookout for brands that do not test their products on animals as well.

Makeup products laid out on a round wooden plate, surrounded by flowers and a white cloth.
Makeup and skincare products can be lovely additions to your holiday shopping haul. You won’t go wrong with local brands that are both ethical and affordable. Photo: Pure Anada

Where to shop? Local brand Pure Anada works with suppliers that own their mines and don’t use child labour, while Haut Cosmetics offers an entire collection of mica-free products that work just as beautifully on your skin. Read our Ethical Makeup Brands Guide for more information on good makeup products.

4. Fair Trade Chocolate Guide

Chocolates are always a good idea whether it be something to snack on while you work or as a gift for any occasion. And the best thing about them is that there are plenty of options to choose from depending on your personal preference or current mood.

Assorted chocolate pralines on a table and in a mint green tin box.
About 70 per cent of the world’s cacao bean supply comes from Western African countries such as Ghana and the Ivory Coast. But farmers from these countries are often exposed to unethical labour practices and unfair wages. There are also reports of child labour in the supply chains. Photo: Nguyen Kim Nhan, Nick Ralph

As popular as chocolates are, though, the industry is not free from its own set of challenges. Chocolates are supposed to be sweet, but it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth when we know that some of those we have grown to love are not ethically manufactured.

Fairtrade works with 322,000 small-scale farmers who benefit from the organization’s Fairtrade Minimum Price. This program ensures that cocoa farmers receive a fair and stable payment regardless of market fluctuations. They also offer Fairtrade Premium to partner cocoa farmers, an additional sum paid to them, which they can use for business or community projects.

A small jar of maple-flavoured hot chocolate placed on top of dried maple leaves.
According to the organization’s most recent data, farmers who are part of the Fairtrade Premium program receive more than $68 million in extra earnings per year. Photo: Camino

Where to shop? Among the fair-trade chocolate brands most loved by Canadians are Camino, OMG’s Candy and Whistler Chocolate. If none of their products quite hit the mark for you, you can find more in our comprehensive Fair Trade Chocolate Guide.

5. Fair Trade Tea Guide

Cold winter days are here and there’s nothing better to keep you warm than a cup of your favourite hot drink. For non-coffee connoisseurs, freshly brewed tea is unbeatable, being second only to water in global consumption.

A cup of tea with a Kericho Gold tag. Dried tea leaves are scattered around it.
Try a cup of good and relaxing tea from brands recognized by Fairtrade Canada and the Rainforest Alliance, an international non-profit that promotes responsible agriculture and entrepreneurship. Photo: Kericho Gold

Where to shop? Give your tea-loving friends some thoughtfully curated gift sets from Bridgehead, Kericho Gold and Yupik. You can also check out our comprehensive Fair Trade Tea Guide to know more about sustainably made tea products sold in Canada.

Bonus Gift Guide: World Vision Canada Gift Catalogue

A collection of artisan gifts and apparel for FY22.

At this point, you probably already know how much we value fair trade and artistry at World Vision Canada. In our Online Gift Catalogue, we feature a variety of artisan gifts and apparel. These products are wonderfully handcrafted by artists from communities around the world.

Still have items to check off your holiday shopping list? Maybe you’d want to get a couple of bags of this Fair Trade organic coffee. This wooden olive bowl would also make a good conversation starter, while this heart pendant necklace can give anyone an added sparkle.
Keeping ethical consumerism alive

Four people shopping for fruits and vegetables.
A simple way to help address child labour is by supporting fair trade goods and being more mindful of the products you consume. Photo: Fairtrade Canada

At the end of the day, we purchase products because we want our bodies to feel good about what we consume, what we wear and how it makes us look. So why not take it a step further by going for brands and products that make our hearts feel good as well?

It doesn’t take much to support ethically made and sustainably sourced goods. But it does wonders for the many people working behind the production lines. This holiday season, you can do more by supporting fair trade brands. Every purchase you make brings you one step closer to eliminating child labour once and for all.