5 Companies You Should Definitely Avoid This Holiday Season

With people’s shopping habits in high-gear during the holidays, it’s important to remember that every dollar is a vote for the type of society we want to live in. Now, more than ever, it’s vital for consumers to stop supporting companies that embrace dangerous political agendas, damage the environment or disregard the rights of their workers. This includes the companies to whom you turn for gifts as well as those who supply the ingredients for your favorite holiday foods.

Keep reading to discover some of the worst offenders, as well as more ethical alternatives to support with your dollars this holiday season.

Nestle

One of the world’s largest food, pet and personal care product companies, Nestle is responsible for some of the world’s most well-known brands, including  PowerBar, Gerber, San Pellegrino, Stouffers, Purina and L’oreal. Over its long and storied history, however, the company has been criticized for child labor, unethical promotion, manipulating uneducated mothers, pollution, price fixing, mislabeling and most recently, the declaration that “water is not a human right, and should be privatized.” In fact, “Nestle extracted 36 million gallons of water from a national forest in California last year to sell as bottled water, even as Californians were ordered to cut their water use because of a historic drought in the state,” the BBC reported in May of 2016.

The Gap Inc.

In 2013, the dilapidated Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed, killing approximately 1,000 people, most of whom were women under the age of 20. The factory in question supplied clothing for some of the world’s largest Western retailers, brands that people in the UK and America wear every day. In response to worldwide criticism, trade unions and labor rights organizations drafted the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement. The agreement would “establish an independent inspectorate to oversee all factories in Bangladesh, with powers to shut down unsafe facilities as part of a legally binding contract signed by suppliers, customers and unions.” Shockingly, The Gap Inc. (which includes Old Navy and Banana Republic) refused to sign, with a spokesperson for the Gap saying the company did not want to make itself vulnerable to lawsuits and did not want to make a financial commitment to help with safety upgrades.

Here in America, things aren’t that much better for Gap employees. “Workers don’t receive benefits along with those higher wages, and Gap is one of many retailers guilty of ‘on-call scheduling,’ in which workers are only ‘notified the night before or a few hours in advance [about] whether they need to come in,’” explains The Daily Dot

As if it’s dubious stance on worker safety and wages weren’t upsetting enough, the Gap is also associated with the clearcutting of redwoods in California.

Conagra Foods

It’s hard to know where to start when speaking to Monsanto-owned Conagra’s sins against humanity and the environment. What’s even worse is, like Nestle, the multitude of popular food brands that are controlled by this grocery behemoth. Conagra has been criticized for its horrifically unsafe slaughterhouses, union-busting practices, numerous pollution fines, wastewater permit violations and anti GMO-labeling lobbying.

Amazon

For those who love the convenience of online shopping and free 2-day shipping, this one might sting a little. Amazon has been at the center of many scandals, including inhumane labor conditions in its American distribution centers and even dodging taxes. If that weren’t bad enough, Amazon’s environmental impact has also earned it fierce criticism, as the company has continually refused to release information about energy consumption at its massive data centers.

Mattel & Hasbro

In 2015, the Institute for Global Labour And Human Rights released a report titled, “Dirty Toys Made In China” [PDF].  The report skewered Hasbro, Mattel and other popular toy brands for the harsh and abusive conditions that exist in the Chinese factories where their toys are made. ”At the Dongguan Zhenyang Wanju Limited factory, young workers [many of whom are just 16 years of age] are forced to toil 12 to 13-plus hour shifts in near freezing conditions, earning as little as $1.36 an hour and sleeping in crowded dorms on narrow wooden bunk beds…In peak season [aka the holidays] shifts run 12 to 13 ˝ hours.” 

Bonus! Boycott Trump With This App

This particular holiday season, many shoppers are looking to express their disagreement (and disgust) with the recent general election results by boycotting all Trump-owned brands and the retailers that choose to carry them. The Democratic Coalition Against Trump recently launched the official “Boycott Trump” app for iPhones which allows users to easily access and search through a database of over 250 businesses to see their connection to Trump. Not on an Apple device? No worries. Grabyourwallet.org is a virtual treasure trove of Trump-connected companies that consumers may want to avoid when shopping.

So Where Should You Shop Instead?

Now that you know the companies to avoid, let’s talk about the ones who are worthy of your money. While I recommend shopping local whenever possible, the TheGoodShoppingGuide.com, Fair Trade USA shopping guide and EthicalConsumer.org have lots of information about how to support companies that make our world better, healthier and safer.

Image via Thinkstock

233 comments

Christine J
Christine J6 months ago

Very disappointing. To believe that water isn't a human right and that it should be privatized is just shocking. What's next, air?!
I agree that it's a good idea to support small, local businesses where what you see is what you get.

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Marie W
Marie W10 months ago

TYFS

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Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla10 months ago

Agree, avoid big corporations!!

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Olga Troyan
Olga Troyan11 months ago

Thank you for this useful info, I'll avoid these companies.

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven11 months ago

thanks for sharing.

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Elizabeth O
Elizabeth O11 months ago

Thanks for the article.

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus C11 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Sandra Vito
Sandra V11 months ago

Thanks

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Virginia B
Virginia Belder11 months ago

Tyvm. Merry Christmas...xx

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Renata B
Renata B11 months ago

We do use Amazon, but to be honest, normally we buy from companies on Amazon, and not Amazon itself. All the others, either they are not known in the UK or we avoid them like hell (see Nestle).

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