| Ford Church

The Better World Shopping Guide

With the holiday season in full swing, everyone is starting to think about that perfect gift. Before you head to the store, jump online, or book your travel plans this season, the Cottonwood Institute would like to encourage you to consider buying from companies that care about people and the environment. We use a book called The Better World Handbook, by Jones, Haenfler, and Johnson as a core text in several of our educational programs. In this book, there is a section called The Better World Shopping Guide that grades various companies based on their human rights, environmental, animal rights, community involvement, and social justice practices to encourage people to vote with their wallet. Below is a list of companies with a letter grade.

This holiday season, please consider buying from companies that have received an A or B and try to avoid buying from companies that have received a C, D, or F and help change the world by voting with your dollar! For a list of companies that the Cottonwood Institute endorses, please visit the Cottonwood Institute Store.


  • A: IKEA, REI
  • B: Home Depot, LL Bean
  • C: Target, Best Buy, Eddie Bauer, Walgreens, Costco, BJ’s
  • D: JC Penney, Maytag, Rite Aid, K-Mart, Sears
  • F: Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club


  • A: American Apparel, Patagonia, Lost Arrow, Maggie’s Organics, Ecolution, Diva Lifewear
  • B: Levi Strauss, Timberland, Liz Claiborne, Cutter & Buck, Eileen Fisher, Reebok
  • C: LL Bean, Nordstrum, Nicole Miller, Nike, Target, Gap, Mervyn’s, Guess, Ralph Lauren, Limited
  • D: Fruit of the Loom, Kmart, JC Penney, Federated, Calvin Klein, LA Gear, Saks, TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, Kohl’s
  • F: Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, May’s


  • A: Seventh Generation, Dr. Bronner’s, Earth Friendly, Ecover, Planet, ECOS
  • B: Simple Green, Sunshine Makers, 3M, Colgate-Palmolive, Murphy’s Oil
  • C: Proctor & Gamble, Hefty, Dial, SC Johnson, Arm & Hammer, Hefty
  • D: Chore Boy, Easy-Off, Glass Plus, Jet-Dry, Mop & Glo, Old English, Wizard, Playtex, Sara Lee, Reckitt Benckiser
  • F: Pine Sol, Tilex, S.O.S., Liquid Plumr, Formula 409, Clorox


  • A: Food Co-ops, Farmers Markets, Whole Foods, Wild Oats, Trader Joe’s
  • B: Supervalu, A&P, Safeway, Vons
  • C: Giant Food, Super G, City Markets, Food 4 Less, King Soopers, Krogers, Kwik Shop, Pay Less, Loaf N Jug, Quick Stop, Ralph’s
  • D: Albertson’s, Osco, Savon, Lucky’s, Thriftway, Winn-Dixie
  • F: Wal-Mart


  • A: Hain, Amy’s, Annie’s, Horizon, Spectrum, Eden, Cascadian Farm, Barbara’s
  • B: General Mills, Quaker, Pepsi, Pillsbury, Colgate-Palmolive
  • C: Campbell’s, Kellog’s, Weight Watchers, Johnson & Johnson, Proctor & Gamble
  • D: Nestle, Carnation, Libby’s, Coca-Cola
  • F: Kraft, Nabisco, Post, Planter’s, Oscar Meyer, Knudsen


  • A: American
  • B: Southwest, Delta, British Airways
  • C: United, Air Alaska, US Air
  • D: Continental
  • F: Northwest, Korean Air

Guiding Question: What will you do this holiday shopping season to reduce your environmental footprint and help make a difference in the world?

Categories: Cottonwood Institute News

Back to Blog

5 Responses to “The Better World Shopping Guide”

  1. Eric Ellison

    Thanks for posting this, Ford! If anyone would like additional information, you can buy a hard copy of the shopping guide for just $10 (free shipping) at http://www.betterworldshopper.com/, or they will even let you download it for your iPod for $5. This may also be a great gift. The guide gives a ton of information with 75 product categories and details on what the good companies and bad companies are doing.

  2. bonnie reese

    One should also consider choosing gifts that do not need to be shipped. Consider a gift certificate at a local restaurant or store if your relatives are not going to be with you for the holidays.

  3. Jennifer G

    This is great, Ford. Thanks for the list! I’d also like to put in a vote for local artists and crafters. Lots of great gifts can be found at DIY holiday markets; the stuff is usually one of a kind, you know who made it, and you’re supporting your local economy.

  4. Paul sanderson

    there do not appear to be any great options for technology…

    should I but a mac from an apple store or best buy?

    is tech just out of the loop when it comes to environmentally friendly options?

  5. Michael Musialowski

    Cool, thanks for posting this, Ford. I’m glad I bought some bamboo serving plates from A-rated Whole Foods. Now I guess it’s time for me to be more proactive about the places I shop and have such a list on me in advance. 🙂 Mikey


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.