One of the questions we hear a lot is: “How can you really know if a brand is fair trade or sustainable?”

It’s a good question.

At, People Heart Planet, we only include brands in our search results that do right by people and the planet. (That’s why we’re called People Heart Planet.) We personally vet and verify every brand to ensure that they meet the criteria of being fair trade or sustainable. Fair trade brands never prioritize profit over human and workers’ rights. For a brand to be fair trade, it must (at a minimum) employ an overall business model that pays its production workers and suppliers fair wages, provide safe working conditions and never employ slave or child labor.

In the same way, sustainable brands never prioritize profit over environmental impact. For a brand to be sustainable, it must (at a minimum) employ an overall business model that results in a minimal environmental footprint both in terms of carbon emissions and waste. This means examining the entire lifecycle of a product, from design, sourcing and raw material production, manufacturing, transport and logistics, warehouse and storage, packaging and shipping, marketing and final sale, use, reuse and recycling.  

We know that greenwashing and false advertising are real problems. Just because a brand says it is fair trade and sustainable doesn’t mean they actually have the business practices to back it up. That’s why we take the time to research brands and why we tell you what we find out.

Also, it’s worth saying again that we only include a brand if it has overall business model that is fair trade or sustainable, and often times both. If a brand has one or two product offerings or a new sustainable product line, it is never included on People Heart Planet (sorry, not sorry, H&M). If a brand has some fair trade and sustainable business practices but not an overall business model that meets these standards, we again do not include them (sorry, not sorry, Reformation). And, if a brand gives back to charitable organizations (like 1% for the Planet or anti-human trafficking NGOs) but doesn’t use their business model to respect people and the planet, then you won’t find that brand on People Heart Planet.

We hope the time we put into doing this research saves you time and energy and makes it so much easier for you to shop fair trade and sustainable. Shopping fair trade and sustainable is just one more way you can love people and love the planet!

So what is our process for verifying that a brand is fair trade or sustainable?


Step 1: We thoroughly read the company’s website, including their mission statement, history, about us pages and any sustainability or company reports they make public. We look for third-party certifications, like Fair Trade Certified and Carbon Neutral Certified. Sustainable and fair trade brands are not like mainstream brands. They are proud of their mission so they clearly lay out their business model and practices for implementing fair trade and sustainable policies. Because of this, it’s never hard to spot a fair trade or sustainable brand!

Step 2: We use third-party verification tools like Good on You and Ethical Consumer Magazine ratings. These third-party organizations rate ethical and mainstream brands on their environmental impact and treatment of workers and then they assign them an overall score. These tools are a great way to validate our research. And we do the research so you don’t have to!

Step 3: We also reference ethical and sustainable bloggers and the content they make public about brands, including founders’ interviews and behind-the-scenes information about production methods and the like. There are so many awesome bloggers that we love to follow! And again, we take the time to read the blogs so you don’t have to!

Step 4: Last but not least, we reach out to the brands directly. We try to have a personal relationship with every brand on our site. Not only does this help us keep our information up-to-date, it’s a great way to make new friends! The people behind fair trade and sustainable brands are amazing, and meeting people who care about people and the planet just might be the best part of this work!

So how can you know if the brands you are shopping on People Heart Planet are really ethical?


Step 1: Look for the ethical icons. Our easy-to-identify icons let you know which companies are committed to being fair trade, sustainablevegan and organic.

Step 2: Read the brand descriptions. In addition to product descriptions, we always include a description of the brand on every product page and on the brand’s profile page. And if the brand has any third-party certifications (like Fair Trade CertifiedCarbon Neutral Certified or B Corp Certified) or anything else that makes it extra special (like carbon neutral shipping), we always call that out!

Step 3: Click on the brand’s link to be taken directly to the brand’s website. By visiting the brand’s site, you can read for yourself about its mission and philosophy. (Go ahead and check our work; we don’t mind one bit.)

We hope this information helps you shop with peace of mind that the brands you are discovering on People Heart Planet share your values. It can be hard to live out our values of treating people and the planet with respect. We want to make it easier! We're on a mission to give you the tools and information you need to be a better ethical consumer. Because after all, shopping fair trade and sustainable brands is just one more way you can love people and love the planet!