11 Buys That Make You Feel Like A Better Human

Living a perfectly curated and stylish life (i.e. buying a new wardrobe every season and constantly getting rid of outgrown styles) can feel downright wasteful and costly. But that doesn’t mean shopping has to be a guilt-ridden pleasure; simply being more informed about where products come from can help kick-start a more thoughtful shopping experience.

And ethical shopping isn’t as stodgy or difficult as you may think. Many trendy companies are taking active steps to becoming more environmentally friendly, often committing to transparency about how their goods are manufactured. From indie designers who work with family-run factories to the best new brands adapting the one-for-one donation program to products from The Body Shop made from fair-trade ingredients, consider this guide a primer in socially conscious shopping. Doing good has never looked so chic.

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Fair Trade
Fair trade is exactly what it sounds like: It’s the ethical exchanging and exporting of goods, primarily from developing countries. This means the workers making the products are paid fairly, working conditions are safe and not exploitative, and all parties are transparent about the trading process. It’s a no-brainer, really. New Zealand brand Kowtow, which has a penchant for oversized and structural basics, exclusively uses 100% fair-trade, organic-certified cotton. (Bonus: No fancy dry cleaning required!)
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British brand Chinti & Parker operates on its own “buy better” philosophy, which means cofounders Anna Singh and Rachael Wood only partner with fair-trade factories. This blushing duffle coat is waterproof (!), making it a major score for all the spring showers to come.
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In addition to producing her own collection of whimsical and dreamy home goods, Brooklyn-based designer Aelfie Oudghiri often partners with skilled artisans for truly unique, mind-blowing pieces. Case in point: This one-of-a-kind basket, produced in collaboration with Indego Africa, is handcrafted by Rwandan women. And all proceeds go toward artisans for educational training programs.
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Who says beauty products are only skin deep? This creamy skin soother from The Body Shop puts the power to help others in your hands — literally. The community-trade-beeswax- and hemp-seed-oil-infused formula not only protects your wintry-dry digits, it also benefits the fairly paid farmers who harvest the hemp plants in England as well as beekeepers in Cameroon. And every purchase includes a $2.20 donation to charities that defend human rights, the planet, and marine life. Keep slathering it on to keep the good vibes (and soft, smooth skin) coming.
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Donation Programs
And that brings us to donation programs. The “one-for-one” business model, popularized by the likes of Toms Shoes and Warby Parker (which donate one of their own products for every one sold for-profit), has been adapted by all sorts of lifestyle and fashion brands. For example, for every pair of THINX's period underwear sold, the brand sends funds to AFRIpads in Uganda, which trains women to make and distribute reusable pads.
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After discovering that a million children in developing countries die or go blind every year due to vitamin A deficiency, Article One decided to help. The emerging eyewear brand donates $2 for every pair of glasses purchased to Helen Keller International, an organization that internationally distributes the life-saving vitamin to those in need. Seeing through these rose-colored sunnies now has a whole new meaning.
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Because winter isn’t over just yet (sorry!), pick up a snuggly warm alpaca-wool beanie from Krochet Kids. This nonprofit donates 100% of profits to help women in third-world poverty regions live a more financially secure, educated, and empowered life.
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Environmentally Sensitive
In the world of fast-fashion everything, training your shopper’s brain to seek out “slow fashion” brands instead will make an impressionable impact in the long run. Buy from boutique brands that have a strong mission to operate in an eco-conscious way, minimizing our impact on the Earth. This year, give up on plastic bags once and for all by purchasing a few of these insanely affordable, reusable nylon bags from the Brooklyn- and San Francisco-based Baggu.
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Bona-fide It brand Reformation doesn’t just make pretty clothes. Everything on the brand’s webshop is constructed from carefully sourced recycled or deadstock fabrics. Plus, it's produced using far less waste and water than other contemporary brands.
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When in doubt, support independent designers! Since small businesses operate on a smaller scale (obviously), most products are custom and made-to-order. Take for instance the Brooklyn-based home-goods line Cold Picnic. The brand only works with other small, like-minded factories (that is, if Cold Picnic isn’t able to handcraft the products itself). This feel-good rug may be designed in Brooklyn, but it’s expertly crafted by a family-owned factory in India.
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The topic of diamond acquisitions has long been controversial, but many indie jewelry designers strive to create uncompromisingly stunning pieces in an ethical way. U.K.-based Polly Wales is one of them, using only materials from sustainable suppliers. Rock solid, indeed.
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