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Your Guide to Ethical Online Shopping This Holiday Season

Anyone who delights in the in-person holiday shopping experience is understandably feeling bummed this year. 

We’ll have to forego the leisurely strolls down the aisles of our favorite stores; trying on that gorgeous half-price dress; and sipping warm, festive bevvies inside our beloved neighborhood cafe while ticking off our shopping lists. 

Okay, fine—online shopping it is. But rather than jumping on Amazon, you can make your gift hunting way more festive and rewarding by shopping with altruistic businesses across the nation. We’ll show you how it’s totally possible (and simple) to shop ethically online and still find high-quality, gorgeous gifts for everyone on your list. 

An introduction to ethical online shopping 

Hey Social Good should be everyone’s first stop in their ethical online shopping journey. Hey Social Good is powered by HOVE Social Good Intelligence, a social impact tech company that offers consumers a searchable database of the best sustainable and ethical brands for a wide range of products and industries. 

HOVE Social Good Intelligence was founded in 2018 by Business For Good Member Dr. Cindy Lin, an environmental scientist and former employee of the Environmental Protection Agency, where she worked for nearly two decades. 

“So many purpose-driven businesses have a hard time finding the right customer to target,” Cindy said. “HOVE SGI solves that by directly introducing consumers to these thousands of companies that are making a really positive impact.” 

It works like this: HOVE SGI offers social good assessments for businesses on their sustainable and give-back practices in an affordable, accessible way. In turn, these purpose-driven businesses get an inroad to connecting with like-minded buyers. 

HOVE SGI uses a 200-point data criteria assessment tool to evaluate all companies and give them a medal ranking, making it easy to understand how they make a positive social impact. Instead of a complex, expensive, and manual assessment, it’s straightforward and data-driven. HOVE SGI captures every positive activity a business engages in, no matter how small the action may seem. 

“We understand that it takes a very long time for a company to be completely sustainable, so we’re trying to track all of their positive practices along the way,” Cindy said.

“For example, we look at, does the company give back? If so, how? What are some concrete examples of how they’re trying to be better?” she continued. “Even something as ‘simple’ as eliminating plastic wrapping on one of their products is a huge step in the right direction, and shows they are ethically minded.”

Ethical shopping is a win for both consumers and businesses 

Whether you’re an ethical shopper or an ethical business, Hey Social Good is an invaluable platform for you. Check out all the benefits HOVE SGI offers. 

For Consumers

  • No membership or fees required – The Hey Social Good website is totally free to visitors. Bookmark it and visit as often as you’d like.
  • Free educational resources – Maybe you’re just starting out with the idea of ethical shopping and want to learn more before you jump in. That’s cool! Hey Social Good offers tons of free info on the subject including informative and fun films, books, and podcasts.
  • Curated Cause Guides – Hey Social Good Cause Guides directly mash-up socially conscious values with simple “to-do” actions and shopping choices. From Black Equity to Food Justice to Veteran-Owned businesses, you will find comprehensive “best of” guides that align with the cause you’re most passionate about. 
  • It’s a trusted resource for socially good businesses – You’ve probably been marketed to by “socially good” or “ethical” businesses on Facebook, Instagram, or Google. But the problem is, those businesses often don’t have any data-driven teeth behind them to prove they are who they say they are. Hey Social Good weeds out any potential “greenwashing” companies.
  • Easy to Understand Business Rankings – There are over 450 socially good certifications a business can obtain, ranging from USDA Organic to LEED Platinum to B Corporation. But Hey Social Good understands these details can be overwhelming for consumers. Most shoppers just want a quick way to identify values-aligned brands they can trust. Hey Social Good does that legwork for you, and awards each business in their social impact directory an easy medal ranking—platinum, silver, or gold. You can confidently take your pick and know you made a solid decision.

For Businesses

  • You get a free Hey Social Good simplified assessment + business listing –  Hey Social Good truly wants to amplify your ethical business. That’s why they offer a free simplified assessment and business listing page to any business. “We don’t want there to be any barriers for businesses to join Hey Social Good,” Cindy said. “We have about 3,000 businesses listed with us right now, and we’re working to make it even simpler and easier for businesses to come online with us.”
  • Affordable tiered assessment pricing model – For more comprehensive assessments that dig deep into all the socially good details, Hey Social Good offers businesses a very affordable pricing model that tackles brand messaging and social impact analysis. “The investment is very reasonable, especially when you consider how much it costs to get certified as LEED Platinum or as a B Corporation,” Cindy said. 
  • Lots of exposure – Hey Social Good is growing—big time. Having your business assessed and listed by Hey Social Good opens you up to a huge audience of exactly the kind of conscious shoppers you’re looking to connect with.

How do you become an ethical online shopper?

You (hopefully) wouldn’t try to run a marathon the first day you decide to take up jogging.

Becoming an ethical shopper uses the same concept—commit to the idea first, and then take one small actionable step forward. Here’s the best way to become an ethical shopper, starting this holiday season. 

  1. Just choose one part of your life – Pick only one room in your home that you want to begin revamping with ethical products. 
  2. Then drill down even further – Choose only a handful of items that you’re going to change in the room. For example, say you want to start with your kitchen. “Tell yourself, ‘I’m only going to focus on replacing my cleaning supplies with sustainable and ethical products,’” Cindy said. “What happens when you do that is you feel accomplished, because those actions are doable. But you’re also very likely to start expanding out into other areas of your kitchen soon after. Maybe you start replacing all of your food containers next! It begins an exciting momentum.” 
  3. Be open to weighing costs – Oftentimes people think that buying ethical products is too expensive. But frankly, it’s not. “Home products in particular like trash bags, toilet paper, and cleaning supplies cost almost exactly the same as the large brands,” Cindy said. “They wouldn’t be able to stay competitive if they didn’t. There are so many amazing examples of ethical businesses that still make a profit, have sustainable practices, and pay their employees a decent wage. The difference is that sustainable operations force businesses to be much more efficient, and the people at the top of these companies are happy to take a smaller cut than the big guys’ CEOs.” 
  4. Don’t despair – Remember that if you didn’t “get it right” with your ethical shopping today, there is always tomorrow. “It’s a constant work in progress to become a sustainable and ethical shopper,” Cindy said. “I have to tell you, if you think there’s one perfect, sustainable lifestyle, there’s not. It doesn’t exist. Just do the best you can.” 

Tips for ethical online shopping for the holidays

Those tempting Black Friday and Cyber Monday specials from the “big guys” are already clogging up our inboxes. So many killer deals!

But what if you’re really making an effort to shop ethically and/or support smaller businesses owned by women, BIPOC, or veterans this year? Are you simply doomed to miss out on these awesome savings and products? 

Absolutely not. Use these helpful suggestions to assist you in checking off your gift list in a responsible but affordable way: 

  1. Pause and ask yourself, Is there an alternative brand? Say you come across a colossal Black Friday deal for that 4K TV your partner’s been dying for. Before you click Buy Now, just pause for a minute and take a breath. “My advice is to just take a second to think, ‘Hey, is there another brand out there that might be an ethical alternative?” Cindy said. “Because honestly, we do that all the time anyway with cost. We’re constantly asking ourselves if there is a cheaper brand, a cheaper option out there. Let’s just do that with ‘more ethical.’” And ethical brands have awesome holiday deals, too!
  2. Check out The Best Social Good Holiday Guides on Hey Social Good – Looking for ethical gifts under $50? How about for her, him, or the kids? Hey Social Good has the curated guides to 2020’s BEST holiday gifts to impress and make a sustainable & ethical impact. You especially won’t want to miss their Local San Diego Holiday Gift Guide!
  3. Contact Hey Social Good for even more shopping options – If you can’t find a certain product or service on Hey Social Good, that doesn’t mean they don’t have information on it. “There are so many brands that we’re still working to get up on our website,” Cindy said. “We probably have info on the product you’re looking for right now, but it’s just not ‘live’ yet.” Email Hey Social Good at hey@heysocialgood.com to let them know exactly what you need help finding.
  4. Participate in Giving Tuesday – One of the most ethical ways to gift this holiday season is to participate in Giving Tuesday. On Tuesday, December 1, 2020, identify your gifts, pick a cause that gets you fired up, and give back.

Where you spend your money matters. This holiday season, visit Hey Social Good for all your ethical online shopping needs!

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