Shopping to Make a Difference

Shopping to Make a Difference

Buying gifts for friends and family is a big part of our Holiday traditions. It’s a way to show those closest to us know how grateful we are to have them in our lives. Make this season even better by shopping to make a difference. The way to make our gift buying and gift giving even more meaningful is by making conscious decisions about what and from whom we are buying.

Here’s how to make gift buying even more special — when your shopping makes a difference for people and the planet.

There are an increasing number of companies and organizations that are committed to doing good on top of the goods and services they provide. They are part of the impact economy.  These companies are social enterprises and B-Corporations and include many of our favorite brands and soon to be favorites.  (If you’d like to understand more about what is special about these types of enterprises, read our blog, Social Enterprises and B-Corporations Make A Difference.“)

As you shop for the perfect gifts this Holiday season, why not give a gift that makes a difference and delights a loved one? Here are three great options to find that perfect and unique gift. 

Shop small and local businesses to make a difference.

Explore companies committed to being a force for good.

Shop organizations that make the world better.

Shop Small and Local Businesses to Make a Difference

Shopping in your small and local businesses is a great place to get started. The impact on your community is measurable.

Did you know that for every dollar spent in a local store as much as $3.50 goes into the local economy?

Local restaurants bring over twice as much money into the local economy as the national chains.

Small businesses created 65% of the new jobs in the last 17 years, while large companies have reduced the workforce.

Small, local businesses are unique and bring out the feel of the community.

Shopping small and local creates a vibrate economy and community.

Need more reasons to shop small and local businesses?  Check out our Shop Local infographic.

Spend some your gift dollars at your local restaurants, gift shops, chocolatiers, book stores, and farms.


OPL Shop Local Infographic
Shop Companies Committed to Being a Force for Good

We love businesses that balance purpose and profit. There are 3,608 Certified B Corporations and, by making a commitment to this designation, are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment. Additionally, there are social enterprises that are committed to making a positive impact in our world. These leaders are focused on using commerce and business as a force for good. When you can’t find that perfect gift locally, take a look at these great options.

Here a few to get you started:

Reduce plastic in our waterways with a gift from For every bracelet or other gift you purchase, a pound of plastic is being removed from a waterway.

Plant more trees with a gift from For each purchase of a t-shirt or socks, ten trees are planted.

Reuse and recycle books with a gift from They have recycled and reused over 370 million books.

Chocolate with a reduced footprint with a gift from They are focused on sustainable practices and treating farmers well.

Sustainable Paper with a gift for the write from They have unique and sustainable paper products such as seed paper.

Fairtrade and environmentally conscience nuts and dried fruit for a healthy treat from

Sustainably grown coffee with a gift from or These are tw of the many B-Corporations where you can have a cup of coffee and peace of mind.

Apparel and doing good – some options here are, and

Shop from Organizations that Make the World Better

For the person who seems to have it all or who loves doing for others, consider making a donation or membership in their name.  It’s a gift that keeps on giving.

Plant trees with a membership to Arbor Day Foundation ( or a donation to One Tree Planted (

Protect Wildlife by adopting, apparel or donating to World Wildlife (

Protect the planet with a donation to Friends of Earth (, National Resources Defense Council (

Local museums and organizations – look at what is most important in the community of your loved one and get a membership or donate in their name.

For more ideas, we encourage you to check out our Cool Stuff and Who’s Doing Good sections.

We hope this starter set gets you shopping to make a difference. We hope you have fun exploring as much as we do. We love all the options we have for making a difference and finding the perfect gift for loved ones!

Butternut Squash Bisque

Butternut Squash Bisque

Butternut Squash Bisque is a hearty and delicious soup that tastes like fall in a bowl! 

Total Time: 1 hours



1 white onion

1 stalk of celery 

2 chopped carrots

3 cloves of garlic

2 tablespoons of butter

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 box of vegetable (or chicken) broth

1 chopped butternut squash

2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon sage plus more for finishing

a dash of red pepper flake

1 teaspoon of cumin for spice

a dash of oregano 

a dash of thyme

season with salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream (or any dairy substitute)

Butternut Squash

Start with the onion, celery, carrots, and garlic in a pool of olive oil and butter in the pot.  Cook for about 5 minutes and add all of your spices in.

Once fragrant, add the chopped butternut squash and broth.

Bring to a boil and stir for 20 minutes.

Add cream in and stir thoroughly. Let sit for 5-10 minutes before blending.

If you have an emulsion blender, use that!

I do not have that so I used a good, old-fashioned blender.

Top with chopped sage and a little parmesan cheese and enjoy!

Sarah Biddle Image

Recipe compliments of Home Chef Sarah Biddle and OPL Community Member

OPL Plant-rich Recipes

Eating more fruits and vegetables is good for you and the planet.  Find more delicious OPL-recommended plant-rich recipes here.

Social Enterprises and B-Corporations Make A Difference

Social Enterprises and B-Corporations Make A Difference

In today’s society, it’s not only about what you purchase but who you purchase from that makes a difference in our world.  Social enterprises and B-Corporations believe in the social responsibility of business.

We have many, many choices for how we spend our money.  In a lot of cases, we have multiple choices when it comes to the brand of cereal we buy for breakfast, the shoes we wear, and even the plumber we call to fix that pesky leaky pipe. The good news for all of us is there are a growing number of companies that are committed to doing good on top of the goods and services they provide.  

Enter the social enterprise and the B-Corporation. What do these terms mean, and how can you understand how their work benefits society and the environment?

What is a social enterprise?

The term social enterprise is hard to define; basically,  a social enterprise is an organization that has specific social objectives that serve its primary purpose, which looks to address a basic unmet need or address an underlying social or environmental problem. It can be in the public or private sector and can address these issues in a variety of ways.

First, a social enterprise often employs people with significant barriers to finding traditional employment. A well-known example of this is Goodwill. Though many think of thrift stores when they think of Goodwill, the company’s mission is actually to help give job skills to those who might not otherwise have access to them — such as veterans, the disabled, and people with criminal backgrounds — who can then go on to find more traditional employment.

Next, a social enterprise can create transformative products and services.  One example is Benetech — a software company that creates software for social good — with projects including the Route 66 Literacy Project, Martus, a human rights abuse reporting system, and Miradi, an environmental project management software. Terracycle is another example that collects and repurposes hard-to-recycle items, from personal care packaging to complex laboratory waste, with the mission of sending nothing to landfills.

Finally, many social enterprises donate a portion of their profits back to non-profit organizations that directly address unmet needs. Eyewear company Warby Parker donates a pair of glasses for every pair sold. Skincare brand Tatcha donates a portion of every purchase to Room to Read, which helps keep young girls around the world in school, leading to healthier and more prosperous lives.

There are several different networks for social enterprises to join such as the Social Enterprise Alliance, which helps like-minded companies stay connected.

Companies and organizations looking to take things a step further can register as a B-Corporation through B-Labs.

What is a B-Corporation?

Founded in 2006 with the first group of B-Corps certified in 2007, the goal of B-Labs is to create a new kind of economy, a “B Economy” in which businesses compete to be the best for the world, for people, and the environment. To achieve this, they created a new type of business that balances purpose and profit, a B-Corporation. Data gathered by the Harvard Business Review suggests that verified firms believe “the major crises of our time are a result of the way we conduct business,” and they certify as a B-Corporation to “join the movement of creating a new economy with a new set of rules” and “redefine the way people perceive success in the business world.”

Those interested in becoming a B-Corp must go through a rigorous certification process, starting with the B-Impact Assessment, which evaluates how a company interacts with its workers, community, and environment. Sample questions include how much paid time off employees get, which underserved populations the business targets, and if the business has taken any steps to make their facilities more environmentally friendly.

Once the assessment is complete, the company then goes through a review process with the B-Labs team.  If awarded a score of 80 or higher, it can complete the B-Corporation certification process.  This includes updating its legal framework to ensure that its commitment to doing good is baked into the fabric of the company while also protecting the company as it grows as well as retaking the assessment every three years to make sure they are still meeting the standards.

Today, there are more than 3,600 registered B-Corporations around the world, a directory of which can be found on the B-Labs website (, spanning all sectors, from services to manufacturing, wholesale, and agriculture. Each directory listing includes the date of certification and the B-Impact Assessment score, which is further divided into the impact area scores: governance, workers, community, customers, and environment.

Some of your favorite companies might already be registered B-Corps. Take Ben and Jerry’s for example, clocking in with a total score of 110, 30 points over the required minimum! The delicious ice-cream company ranks particularly well in Community, with a high score in supply chain poverty alleviation and Workers, scoring well in compensation and wages. Other familiar names include Patagonia, Allbirds, Bombas, Eileen Fisher, and Stonyfield Organic.  A couple of our favorites are Simply Straws, etee, Ecoenclose, Ecobags, and Greenfield Paper Company.

The directory of B-Corporations from B-Labs is a powerful tools to change the way that we spend our money. You’ll also find more companies that care for people and the planet under Market.  

Imagine that you need a new pair of shoes. Instead of buying from a big-box store, you could find a social enterprise or Certified B-Corporation that sells shoes and supports a company that you know treats its workers fairly, serves its community, and those in need, and helps the planet. 

It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved, so be sure to consider a social enterprise or B-Corp on your next shopping trip, and feel a lot better about the pint of Ben and Jerry’s stashed in your freezer!



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