25+ amazing ethical alternatives to Amazon

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The big list of ethical alternatives to Amazon.

Because for some, Amazon is a necessary evil that gets them the things they need. But for most, it’s a tool that aids overconsumption and the exploitation of people and planet.

I get that Amazon Prime is easy. And that the one-stop-shop aspect makes its so convenient. But all that ease just breeds an ethical nightmare.

Do we really need to be able to have near-instant access to any whim that flits across our mind? (Our planet and the people being exploited by Jeff Bezos’ greed would certainly say no.)

Ideally, we’ll be purchasing as little as possible. Replacing one unnecessary item with another is hardly a sustainability win.

But when you have a need for something, rather than supporting Amazon as a default, use it as an absolute last resort. Let me help with this big list of ethical alternatives to Amazon.

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Need a run-down on why Amazon’s so awful? Here’s a comprehensive post.

Some of these links are affiliate links, meaning I earn a small commission if you purchase something through them – at no extra cost to you. That’s just one way you can support this site!

All-purpose shopping

Ethical alternatives to Amazon are hard to find because of the site’s all-encompassing convenience. These sellers are here to fight back.

  • eBay. eBay seems to have gone out of style for a lot of people but it’s an amazing place to find new, like-new, or gently used items of any kind. Obviously, ymmv on how ethically-sourced these products are. eBay’s especially good if you’re not looking for something super specific and have the time/inclination to browse.
  • Etsy. Etsy is an incredible resource for supporting small businesses – particularly if you’re in a place where there aren’t many sustainably-minded small businesses. I particularly like Etsy for purchasing handmade linen clothes, sustainable jewelry, or cool vintage fabric for sewing projects.
  • Uncommon Goods. They have a big range of unique gifts that are made by small businesses. Each item also has a range of badges on the info page, denoting Handmade, Black-Owned, Women-Owned, Made in the USA, and other designations you might like.
  • Natural Collection. Natural Collection offers a curated range of all sorts of ethical and sustainable products from clothes to home goods to kid’s toys. UK-based.
  • DoneGood. DoneGood curates a list of unique goods that are made in a way that’s good for people and planet. I like that there’s a large selection of goods that have already been audited once – it makes my own research much less difficult.
  • Official Black Wall Street. If you’re looking to support a Black-owned business this is the site, although this directory isn’t specifically curated for ethical/sustainable businesses though they’re certainly there too. Tons of businesses in all different categories that you can also search by location!
  • Small Business Saturday. While I can’t speak to how sustainable these companies are, the American Express (ugh) Small Biz Saturday site has a curated list of local businesses to support.
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The big list of ethical alternatives to Amazon - Books - PollyBarks.com

Books, ebooks, & audiobooks

Kindle and Audible have a hold on the market, but there are ethical alternatives to Amazon when it comes to books. Note: AbeBooks is owned by Amazon.

  • Alibris. Alibris is an online marketplace for independent sellers of books, music, and movies. While you won’t be guaranteed to find everything you want, the selection is incredible.
  • Biblio. This site offers local bookstores global reach. It’s a 501c(3) non-profit that also seeks to provide books to communities in need. Win-win.
  • Better World Books. Better World Books not only sells books, but is a Founding B Corporation that helps fight poverty through education. Every time you buy a book from them, they donate a book to someone in need!
  • Overdrive. Ebooks, audiobooks, and magazines from libraries around the world.

Need some books to put on your reading list? Check out my zero waste book recommendations!

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Food

Avoid Amazon and its subsidiary Whole Foods when possible by supporting these companies.

  • Thrive Market. Thrive Market offers a range of organic goods at very reasonable prices. They’re not all zero waste friendly, but there is some decent selection.
  • Azure Standard. If you’re looking for organic bulk goods, this is it. Big bags, minimal plastic, and a ton of great options. I wrote a full blog post all about Azure Standard and buying bulk online if you want to know more.
  • Misfit Market. They sell produce that normally wouldn’t be sold in stores in a subscription box service and – unlike most other boxes – actually deliver to my area! If you want to get 25% off your first order (and cut me a sweet 25% off my next order), use code COOKWME-RV4FIL.
  • Market Wagon. If you’re looking to connect with local farmers (Midwest only), this is an incredible option! Just enter in your zip code and see who’s selling. I’m not sure how it is in on the farmers’ end, but for consumers it’s a great way to get farm produce without having to search too hard. Best of all, free delivery if you can make it to a local pickup spot!
  • Thrive Market. Thrive Market offers a range of organic goods at very reasonable prices. They’re not all zero waste friendly, but there is some decent selection.
  • Azure Standard. If you’re looking for organic bulk goods, this is it. Big bags, minimal plastic, and a ton of great options. I wrote a full blog post all about Azure Standard and buying bulk online if you want to know more.
  • Misfit Market. They sell produce that normally wouldn’t be sold in stores in a subscription box service and – unlike most other boxes – actually deliver to my area! If you want to get 25% off your first order (and cut me a sweet 25% off my next order), use code COOKWME-RV4FIL.
  • Market Wagon. If you’re looking to connect with local farmers (Midwest only), this is an incredible option! Just enter in your zip code and see who’s selling. I’m not sure how it is in on the farmers’ end, but for consumers it’s a great way to get farm produce without having to search too hard. Best of all, free delivery if you can make it to a local pickup spot!
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The big list of ethical alternatives to Amazon - Clothing - PollyBarks.com

Clothing

I didn’t even realize people bought clothes there, but there are endless ethical alternatives to Amazon in the fashion space!

  • Pact Apparel. Is it TMI if I tell you I’m wearing their underwear as I type this? Pact offers sustainable cotton basics – perfect for the undergarments or basic tees/tanks for everyday wear.
  • thredUP. The perfect online alternative to thrift shopping. There are tons of almost-new clothes available at deep discounts. Plus, thredUP always ships with zero plastic packaging, which is a nice bonus!
  • For Days. If you need simple basics, these are them. For Days offers a closed-loop system AKA they’ll take back your shirts when they’re tattered, reuse them, and send you a new version at a discounted rate!
  • Organic Basics. I have and love some of their very comfortable bralettes. I like their style, ethical business sense, and that they have a fund that supports “grassroots activists and organizations that address our environmental crises”.
  • REI. I like that REI not only has incredibly high-quality goods, but is a consumers’ co-op (basically, owned and governed democratically by consumers). They’re also working hard to go fully-green energy, carbon-neutral, and zero waste in 2020.
  • Patagonia. Patagonia considers itself an “activist” company – yes! They give 1% of all sales to environmental groups, are a Certified B Coropration, and donated $10M they received from Trump’s tax cuts to environmental groups in 2017.
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Home goods & cleaning supplies

While I’m a big proponent of DIY-ing what you can and using what you have, sometimes thrifting or DIY cleaners aren’t enough.

  • Mighty Nest. I’m not a huge fan of the subscription box model since it can lead to the consumption of things you don’t need. But Mighty Nest has some great products for the first-time zero waste enthusiast and the low cost of their first box is worth it. For $3 you can choose what you get in your first box, like 3 dryer balls or 5 produce bags.
  • Hippie Haven. Run by a zero waste advocate and an all-female team, Bestowed Essentials offers a large range of carefully created and selected cleaning goods.
  • TJ Maxx. I am not a big fan of the TJ Maxx model AKA tons of super random, adorable stuff that you really think you need… but you really don’t. But. Their home goods section is stocked to the brim with random, discounted items to help in your zero waste journey if you can’t source them second-hand.
Read more:  The ultimate guide to zero waste thrift shopping
The big list of ethical alternatives to Amazon - Toiletries - PollyBarks.com

Makeup & toiletries

Ethical alternatives to Amazon in the makeup & toiletries space abound.

  • Credo Beauty. The site has a massive collection of clean beauty products at all different price points. I’m not sure who’s buying makeup from Amazon, but if you are… Credo Beauty is a good alternative.
  • Lush. If I had the money to play around with, I’d definitely be all Lush, all the time. Unfortunately, it can be a bit pricey but literally every product I’ve ever tried there was absolutely lovely.
  • The Detox Market. A curated list of green beauty products (hair, skincare, makeup, etc) that focuses on pure ingredients with cruelty-free formulas. I suggest you do additional research on any of the brands listed for more specifics on their sustainability records.
  • I have a whole list of zero waste makeup brands you can check out. I tried to rank them all by budget and different options like vegan, zero waste packaging, etc.

That’s it for now! If you’ve got businesses or sites you’ve personally supported and can recommend, I’d love it if you drop them in the comments so I can add them to the list of ethical alternatives to Amazon.

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49 thoughts on “25+ amazing ethical alternatives to Amazon

  1. anne

    Libo.fm is another alternative to Audible. I don’t know if they’re “ethical”, but they’re better than Audible. They partner with bookstores (indies) and redirect money to your choosen bookstore or community.

  2. Evan

    Would really love to see the company I work for, Honey, included on more of these lists. Our free mobile app allows you to shop 650 different stores in a single place. You can check out with a single shopping cart no matter how many different stores’ products are in there.

    1. Polly Barks Post author

      Hey Evan, is that like Honey, the browser extension? I didn’t realize they had an ethical/sustainable bent – what does that look like? Thanks!

      1. Ana

        Beware! Honey is owned by PayPal and sells the data the collect on you. That is how they can afford to give out “rewards”.

  3. Adrienne Catone

    Have you looked into FaeriesDance.com? They have a huge ethical, sustainable clothing and accessories collection. It’s a woman-owned, family run business and they’ve been around for 15 years.

  4. Barbara Fankhauser

    You should also check out Imperfect Produce for sustainable fruits, veggies and more delivered to you every two weeks.

  5. JL

    Just a heads up for anyone who is opposed to MLMs (multi-level marketing): The Body Shop runs a multi-level marketing arm of their business (called “The Body Shop at Home”) in addition to their standard brick-and-mortar stores and online retail. Their parent company is a cosmetics MLM who recently acquired Avon as well. Obviously it’s up to the individual to decide if and how that changes their stance on purchasing from the company, but I wanted to put it out there.

  6. Peter

    This is a well-meaning list but in its specifics could be a whole lot better. Books, for example–why not list Indiebound and Bookshop? They both support indie booksellers. I think you’re on the right track but a deeper dive into alternatives would benefit all.

      1. Rhoda Mack

        This list is an exciting start. With so many eager comments, the updated list will be even better.

  7. Anne Macha

    thank you for this post, as my neighbor and I were just discussing how we wanted to ween ourselves off of Amazon, so I was happy to find your post and to see vetted alternatives.

  8. Jenn

    The Body Shop is not ethical. The have a pyramid scheme MLM division for their products that targets and victimizies people looking for work.

      1. Marla

        Thanks for supporting the Nestlé Boycott, Polly. I have been avoiding products from them and their subsidiaries since 1977, but I did not know about their Body Shop connection. You are providing a great service with all this information.

  9. Jennifer

    Libro.fm for audible books – you can select a local independent bookseller as the “seller” of your audiobooks.

  10. claire

    OK. these are not shops but don’t forget freecycle.org. They offer a giving/donating/asking platform for anything so that it does not end up in the landfill.
    Unlike the other areas that sell things this one is completely free.

  11. Kathy

    Love your post!
    Where I have shopped lately:
    Prana (Yes, they’re bigger but…
    Like their philosophical model. Sustainable/organic sourcing. Stand behind their products. Donate returned items to those in need-maybe Native American reservations?)
    Innerspaceyoga.net (Small business that makes beautiful homemade yoga props)
    Onzie (Small, women-run yoga clothing business out of Venice Beach, California)
    Natural Grocers-Philosophy-I have seen their standards list for why they will not carry certain items-such as those from dairies. All of their produce is organic, and they are decent humans.
    I also joined a local organic farm co-op, and I’m thrilled to purchase produce, plants etc. from a family that also employees community members.
    Healing Gardens Store-Fort Collins CO
    thehealinggardens.org
    Not only does it sell supplements, etc., but the owner also has her own natural line of natural skin care products. (Sacred Skin) that I’ve been using for years. They ship.
    Kineticwise-Fort Collins, CO. The owner produces her own line of high quality, essential oils. Kineticwise.com
    She ships.
    Would also like to know if anyone knows much about Lucky‘s market.

  12. Tina Shelton

    Love the list! Thanks for all the work put into it. I have always steered away from Amazon and therefore find it easy to do what I’ve have been doing all along, such as big online retailers like lands end, vitacost, and others like it, but I really appreciate the ethical angle you have compiled here. Kudos!

  13. Leora

    Love nuts.com for everything from hard to find flours, all kinds of yummy snacks (I like the dried fruit And organic chocolate), bulk herbs, spices and cooking supplies (the powdered cheese is great for homemade Mac and cheese), And of course, nuts (and a lot more). Friendly people, good prices and quality goods. And, no, I don’t work for them. Just a happy customer.

  14. Barb Stephens

    Although you don’t always get lots of choices, Costco continues to be a place I support due to how much they pay their employees (good pay plus benefits) and their attempts to provide reasonable prices as well.

  15. Heather Barnum

    A great alternative to audible or Kindle? The public library! Most public libraries are very much in need of community support right now, and also open for business with very creative service models.

  16. Chris Marie

    Not Etsy. A lot of artists are now moving away from that platform due to price gouging. Etsy takes a very large percentage of sales, and in some cases will take more than what the artist made that month. A lot of artists are now requesting people buy from their other sites or even just to message then and ask what works for them.

    1. Polly Barks Post author

      I don’t disagree, but it is a solid foundation for finding artists who otherwise might not be seen. Always best to buy direct when possible!

    2. Faith

      What site would you recommend in stead of Etsy? I’m just thinking about selling my jewelry again after a 4 year hiatus and would love an alternative to Etsy.

  17. B

    Hi there! This is a great list. For food, consider adding that someone can look into their local Community-Supported Agriculture, or CSA, as well. I get a weekly box delivered to my house and it makes sure the money stays in the region on high-quality produce that is sustainably farmed. Just google “CSA [where you live]” and that should get you started!

  18. Lynda Lea Chung

    Note from Polly: AbeBooks is owned by Amazon.
    There is also AbeBooks which is a platform (not sure of the right term because I’m not that techno saavy!) that has many independent booksellers (including Better World Books) at their site. They have UK options as well. I am not sure of their environmental policies and so on but I like that I can access independent used book sellers of all shapes and sizes and support them. I did notice some of the companies ship in plastic but it is minimal to the size of the books beingshipped (not sure how Better World shipped, I thought they did mostly plastic as well but again to fit the size of the book).

    Other favorites of mine online are: Powells Books new & used & they buy used books from customers (based out of Portland Oregon) I found the physical store when I lived on the West Coast & Moe’s Books in Berkeley CA (near UC Berkeley-their website is a bit odd to navigate but I like to at least look!).

    There are also some catalog companies where they have discounted new books. Hamilton Books (any size order ships for 4.00 & their shipments are in boxes with paper. You can order on line(by printing up your order & mailing it in. Checks only. Or from a catalog manually. Daedalus books originally in catalog/online out of Maryland & had one store there. Recently sold to a midwestern company. They ship in paper & paperboxes. They have a low 7.95 shipping as well. Have some music, DVDs. And then there is Bas Blue whichis more spendy but has some unique offerings in “all things books”. Again not sure how Daedalus & Bas Blue is on environmental or helping others, etc.

    Hope this was helpful to you!

  19. Lynda Lea Chung

    Ohh just reading back in the info and see that Abebooks is owned by amazon had no idea. I heard about them years and years ago (just never accessed until last few years) so they must have been bought up by Amazon since I first heard of them

  20. Mandy

    Localharvest.com is a good way to find many different food sources in your area. Check out the Community Supported Agriculture movement, a way to buy food in reasonable quantities directly from nearby family owned farms. Small farms profit and you get just harvested produce, local honey and other goodies. The one I buy from will even bake bread, cakes and cookies for you if you’re feeling lazy.

  21. Jennifer c Swan

    Hi and thank you so much! Does anyone know of an ethical online vendor for medicine, a pharmacy perhaps. I could use costco – I’m talking tylenol/generic, ibuprofen, etc. Thanks so much.

  22. JacqueKDeliz

    It is truly a nice and helpful bit of info. I’m happy that you shared this useful information along with us. Please keep us updated like this. Thanks for sharing.

  23. Brandi

    I use thriftbooks.com for books and bandwapothecary.com for personal care. Thanks for the list, its awesome!

  24. kate kowalsky

    Good information. Lucky me I recently found your site by chance (stumbleupon). I have bookmarked it for later!

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