10 Grinch Gifts to Avoid This Holiday

Jewelry from Discount and Department Stores

jewelry laid outProblems: Adult and children costume jewelry from stores such as Claire’s, Walmart, Target, Forever 21, Walmart, H&M, and Icing may contain toxic lead and cadmium.  Mining for stones and metals used in more expensive jewelry causes environmental damage, unsafe working conditions, and violent and lethal conflict.

Better Options: High-quality jewelry made by fair trade artisans.

Box of Uncertified Chocolates

box of chocolates - petr kratochvilProblems: Cacao can come from forced child labor and underpaid farmers and workers.  Chocolates most likely contain sugar and soy lecithin that are genetically engineered (GMOs), and may contain unhealthy artificial flavors.

Better Options: Fair trade and organic chocolates

Non-Organic Body Care Gift Sets

body care gift setProblems: Soaps, lotions, etc. contain parabens, phthalates preservatives, and synthetic fragrances, which cause endocrine and hormone disruption, thyroid problems, infertility, and cancer.

Better Options: Products with only nontoxic, safe ingredients.

Toy Guns

Nerf gunProblems: Made of plastic which comes from petroleum and toxic chemicals, often made in sweatshops overseas, and send a violent message to children.

Better Options: Peaceful toys, made in the USA from nontoxic and sustainable materials.

Bella Luna Toys

Down to Earth Toys

EcoChoices Natural Living Store


Barbie Dolls

barbie dollsProblems: Made of plastic which comes from petroleum, made by low-wage workers overseas, and affects young girls and their body image.

Better Options: Positive-image dolls; Fair trade and/or made in the USA out of non-toxic, sustainable materials.

Bella Luna Toys

Wild Dill

Global Green Pals



Gift Cards to Big-Box and “Fast Fashion” Stores

By Ben Schumin (Own work (Ben Schumin)) [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia CommonsProblems: Many products from stores like Walmart, Target, and H&M are made with unsustainable materials, plastic (from petroleum), and toxic chemicals; produced in sweatshops and dangerous working conditions. Big-box retailers also pay some of the lowest staff wages.

Better Options: Fair trade, sustainable, unique gifts.

Conventional Candles

lit candles

Problems: Often made from paraffin wax which is a petroleum by-product and produces soot when burned, genetically engineered (GMO) soy, wicks with lead, and toxic synthetic fragrances.

Better Options: Beeswax and non-GMO soy candles with essential oils for fragrance.

Vance Family Soy Candles (non-GMO soy)

Beehive Candles

Big Dipper Wax Works

Scarves, Mittens, Hats from Department and Discount Stores

mittens and scarves from World FindsProblems: Many mainstream stores such as Gap and Target use sweatshop labor and unsustainable fibers.

Better Options: Sustainable, fair trade businesses and products that are handmade and/or from reclaimed materials.

Handy Candy Mittens

World Finds

Ten Thousand Villages



Virgin-Paper Journals and Cards

Mr Ellie Pooh notebooksProblems: Virgin forests are destroyed to make paper, affecting watersheds, air quality, animal habitat, and climate change.

Better Options: Made from 100 percent recycled paper or non-tree paper.  Even better is non-tree paper that provides a sustainable income and protects animals.

Mr. Ellie Pooh




Athletic Gear/Yoga Mat from Chain Stores

yoga mats - image from mckay savageProblems: Made of synthetic and potentially unhealthy materials, under bad working conditions.

Better Options: Sustainable, fair trade businesses and products.

Senda Athletics

Natural Fitness


  1. I think it’s worth mentioning; “fair trade” should not be confused with the USA Fair Trade Agreement. The Fair Trade Agreement actually has nothing to do with “fair trade”. The Fair Trade Agreement is (what I call a “drug deal”) between the USA government and foreign countries to make/force foreign to buy our beef, which they understandably, don’t want. The FTA is the USA agreeing not to raise import tax on foreign goods as long as they buy our beef; for the most part.

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