The Union Co. is a digital mall strictly for products with a social mission. These bowls are made by female artisans in Kenya.

The makers of these wooden ear buds replace all the trees they use for their products--and if you plant a tree, they will, too.

These necklaces are also made by female Kenyan artisans, giving them a source of income.

These roses are grown in a socially responsible manner that treats the environment and flower workers well.

Bowties sewn by women in rural Kenya.

Half the profits from this necklace go to stop sex trafficking in Los Angeles.

This organic alpaca blanket helps support Ecuadorian workers.

Buying one of these watches provides clean water to a person in the developing world for an entire year.

2013-04-01

Co.Exist

A Clearinghouse For Products That Give Back When You Buy Them

The Union Co. is an online store where every product has a social mission attached, for those of us who want our shopping to mean more than just consumerism.

Like your products to come with a compelling story, other than that it was debuted at so-and-so fashion week or electronics show? The Union Co. is a digital mall strictly for products with a social mission. If there’s a Toms or Warby Parker version of something, chances are you can find it on The Union Co.

The site makes it easy to search by product type, like accessories or clothes, as well as by cause that the product supports—from sex trafficking, to water, to homelessness, to community development. Browse for walnut iPhone cases by Vers, a brand that replaces 100 trees for every one tree it cuts down. Purchase necklaces whose profits are used to fight sex trafficking in Los Angeles. Acquire salad servers that keep Kenyan mothers employed.

This might seem overly precious, but the site’s founders, Benjamin Juhlin and Mitch Ahlenius, put forth a pretty low-key "manifesto" about what they’re trying to accomplish: "We have products that speak to the human experience, that tell stories, because that’s cool, and they do more good than the average product—not because we’re glorifying social good or putting it on a pedestal, but simply because it’s just the way buying things should be."

Elsewhere on the site they discuss the need to "change current paradigms surrounding social good" by encouraging models of giving and supporting communities other than charity. "Charity can be a powerful way to reach people, but if it’s overdone it has the dangerous effect of crippling people’s sense of empowerment," they write.

Check out the products on offer here.

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