Looking for Amazon alternatives for ethical shopping? Here are a few ideas

With the end of Amazon’s charitable giving program, AmazonSmile, some people are feeling worse about shopping on Amazon and are looking for ways to shop more ethically.

Through AmazonSmile, which ends February 20, Amazon will donate 0.5% of eligible purchases to a charity of the buyer’s choice. The program has donated over $449 million worldwide, but the average donation per charity last year was only about $230, according to Amazon.

Still, some organizations – especially small ones – say the money has made a big difference to them. Many shoppers using AmazonSmile have taken to social media to express their dismay and shared the program’s impact on the charities they support, with some threatening to stop shopping on Amazon and urging others to cancel their Prime subscriptions fire.

If you’re wondering how to shop more ethically, there are several principles you can follow, says David Weitzner, an assistant professor of management at York University in Toronto.

What constitutes ethical shopping?

“The answers for individuals depend on their policies and other factors,” Weitzner says, but if you understand the company’s business model and principles closely, “and they align with your own values, I would consider that ethically elaborate.”

First and foremost, make sure you understand and agree with how the company makes its money – from the way it treats its employees and sources its goods to the impact of its business model on the environment .

Additionally, Weitzner says that one should prioritize the company’s reputation over its placement on lists of the best ethical companies — some lists require companies to pay for them. Then look at what the company is doing now — not what it’s promising for the future. Finally, shop from companies that prioritize human connection over efficiency.

Aside from our own research as buyers, we should trust our instincts, says Weitzner. If you go to a store regularly and “your gut tells you this is an ethical place to shop,” that’s a good sign, he says.

Armed with those principles, here are some ideas on where to shop next. This is not an exhaustive list, but rather resources for customers looking for Amazon alternatives.

Where to start

Ethical Consumer is an organization that examines the ethical and environmental records of companies, from energy to fashion to food. The guides will not only tell you about the track record of specific brands, but also what to look for and what to avoid when shopping, making it easier to make informed decisions even if you didn’t research a particular brand before taking it to the store have met.


If your primary concern is charitable giving rather than shopping, CharityWatch is a nonprofit watchdog providing information on the efficiency, accountability, leadership, and fundraising of charities. If you decide to cancel your Amazon Prime subscription due to the end of AmazonSmile, it can help you decide where to put that extra money.


Billing itself as the “world’s leading source of fashion brand reviews”, Good on You on its website ranks fashion brands based on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to help consumers understand if fashion brands are as eco-friendly as they claim . The assessments include factors such as greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption, and occupational safety and wages.

However, buying second-hand clothes – and swapping or reselling items you no longer need or want – is the best way to avoid the ethical and environmental costs of the fashion industry. Check out ThredUp, Poshmark, Depop and other resale and thrift stores and websites.


Food waste is incredibly bad for the environment – and your wallet.

To shop more sustainably, check out Imperfect Foods, which supplies foods that are irregular in size or shape, have cosmetic imperfections, or are simply surplus items that would otherwise go to waste.

You can also download Too Good To Go, an app that allows users to buy surplus groceries at grocery stores and restaurants at a reduced price. The contents of the bag you receive will be a surprise based on what’s left when the store closes, but it’s a great way to avoid food waste and try something new in a cost-effective way.


If you’re interested in buying books and finding companies that treat their employees well and are sustainable, you can find vendors on Ethical Revolution’s Amazon Alternatives website, which has a bookstore locator.

Buying used books helps avoid landfill sites, and buying from independent, local stores helps ensure authors are paid fairly. If you want to find an independent bookstore near you, you can search on IndieBound.

Thriftbooks is an independent online bookstore that offers carefully graded used books and works with nonprofit organizations to provide literacy programs, although its products appear on Amazon and other retailers. Better World Books sells both new and used books and supports literacy projects.

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