Last updated on October 25th, 2020 at 02:40 pm
It’s Sunday morning, and you’re indulging in a bit of relaxation before the upcoming workweek. Or, like most people, you have a laundry list of chores like gassing up the car, cleaning the house, and well, laundry, just to name a few. Fortunately, you can knock off at least one major item without getting out of bed just yet…
How to Shop Organic Online
Finding quality products hasn’t always been easy for those with special diets or sustainable shopping values. A new breed of organic online markets has now made it easier to zero-in on goods tailored for alternative preferences. From fair trade, gluten-free, keto, and of course, certified organic, there are suddenly plenty of healthful options available on the World Wide Web. But which sites should socially conscious shoppers go for healthy food and household items?
In this article we compare three of the top online shops for organic and sustainable goods: Thrive, Brandless, and Honest Co. We take a deep dive into each so you can streamline your shopping without compromising on quality or principle. If you’re eager to see how these three shops stack up, skip right ahead to our head-to-head comparison chart.
But first: Why shop for organics online?
It may seem counterintuitive to shop online for things like organics. After all, isn’t it better to spend locally, on fairly-sourced goods without a ton of packaging, preservatives, and extra pollution?
Yeah, ideally. But the rapid adoption of healthier, more globally conscious lifestyles has spurred an explosion of alternative brands you simply don’t want to live without, even if they don’t come from your local farmer’s market. The distribution of these goods has evolved so much in the last few years, and I’m not just talking about two-day shipping or mobile browsing (often from bed). Several other core features make sites like Thrivemarket.com, Brandless.com, and Honest.com the ultimate way to shop for all the things that keep you healthy and grounded.
- Greater selection: Simply put, there are a lot more options online than you’ll find stocked in a physical supermarket — everything from organic food, to “clean” wine, to all-natural baby formula and even eco-friendly pet supplies. While no one can match Amazon’s selection, discovering the best new products from a vast, unspecialized marketplace is difficult. Thrive, Brandless and Honest tackle this problem head on.
- Better information: As nutritional science and health trends evolve, it’s hard to know how products work, what ingredients they are made from, how they were sourced, and if they accommodate a particular set of dietary restrictions. Thrive, Brandless, and Honest co. educate consumers at the point of sale, often better than the clerk at my local health food store.
- Customizable subscriptions: All three also offer customizable subscription boxes to streamline your purchase. They allow you to order a bundle of curated products on a regular timeline of your choice — weekly, monthly, twice a year or anything in between. The subscriptions are designed to help you put essential orders on autopilot, while discovering new items and reaping additional value (they usually include a free gift or two). Note that you don’t HAVE to buy products in regularly-scheduled bundles, and can always opt for one-time delivery instead if that’s more your speed.
- Lower prices: Finally, online organic markets tend to be the same cost or cheaper than traditional brick and mortar organic competitors. I’ll go into that in a lot more below, so keep reading!
What kind of products do Thrive, Brandless, and Honest Co. sell?
Organic online markets like Thrive, Brandless, and Honest Co. boast a wide variety, but generally speaking there are only a few broad categories: food, baby products, cleaning and home supplies, health and beauty items, as well pet care. You can find everything from standard fare like pasta, rice and grains, coffee, and snacks, to other household staples like diapers, essential oils, and cleaning formulas. I was also pleasantly surprised to find frozen food and wine—both 100% organic of course. Their selection for alternative diets and values like non-GMO, gluten-free, and fair trade are quite impressive.
How do prices compare at Brandless, Thrive, and Honest vs traditional organic markets?
Although shopping online can be a huge time saver, these three markets might also help you save a bit of money versus competing suppliers. Curious to find out exactly how much, I compared the price of several common food items at Thrive, Honest Co., and Brandless to Whole Foods to see how each category stacked up. (Note that Whole Foods’ published prices may vary by location, and that all the items below are organic in-house brands for each retailer.)
Online Organic Grocery Prices Compared
|Extra Virgin Olive Oil||$3 for 8.5oz
|$14.99 for 25.4oz
|–||$7.99 for 16.9oz
|Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce||$3 for 24oz
|$4.99 for 25oz
|–||$2.49 for 25oz
|Rolled Oats||$3 for 6oz
|$4.99 for 32oz
|–||$3.99 for 24oz
|Whole Bean Coffee||$3 for 6oz
|$12.99 for 24oz
|–||$11.99 for 24oz
|Brown Rice||$1.50 for 16oz
|$3.59 for 16oz
|–||$2.99 for 20oz
As you can see, prices are pretty comparable across the board. Honest Co. offers fewer grocery items than Thrive or Brandless, so to throw them more squarely into the mix, I also compared the cost of a few popular baby items — organic formula and eco-friendly diapers — as well as all-natural cleaning supplies. Note that both Thrive Market and Whole Foods also carry the Honest Company® brand formula, somehow for less than on honest.com. See how prices for those household products compare at each market:
Sustainable Baby & Cleaning Product Prices Compared
|Organic Baby Product Prices||–||$30.29 for 21oz
|$32.95 for 21oz
|$30.29 for 21oz
|Diapers (size 4)||$9 for 30
$.30 per diaper
|$31.99 for 108
$.30 per diaper
|$10.95 for 23
$.47 per diaper
|$9.99 for 31
$.32 per diaper
|Multi-surface cleaner||$3 for 30 oz
|$3.99 for 26oz
|$3.49 for 26oz
|$2.99 for 32oz
|Dish soap||$3 for 16.5oz
|$3.95 for 24oz
|$3.29 for 24oz
|$3.19 for 25oz
As you can see, prices for groceries, baby products, and household cleaning supplies at online organic markets are very similar at Brandless vs Honest vs Thrive. They also seem in-line or generally just a tad cheaper than traditional brick and mortar alternatives like Whole Foods. So what exactly distinguishes the three, and which online organic market is best for you? Let’s dig a bit deeper.
Thrive Market: The ultimate store for all things organic?
Right out of the gate, Thrive Market positions itself as a premium supplier, with frozen meats and specialty wines. They offer the largest selection of products by a wide margin compared to Brandless or Honest Company. Unlike the other two, Thrive carries a number of more common brands that you might typically see elsewhere as well as their own privately labeled products. This cream of the crop selection reflects itself in their pricing, where they generally come in a hair more expensive. But overall, it’s a small price to pay for a lot of high-quality options and a delightful shopping experience.
Thrive focuses on customer experience by sending gifts with each purchase. They also provide a ton of helpful resources on the site itself, allowing you to shop by diet (Keto, Whole30, and Paleo, just to name a few) and peruse write-ups and blog posts that answer diet FAQs and link to recipes right at the end of each selection page. This is particularly helpful if you were looking to adapt to a new way of eating, or looking for new food to try that fits your current diet.
Thrive also appeals to those looking to make an impact. For every paid member, they match a low-income family with a free lifetime membership so they can order high quality and organic food too. They also boast carbon-neutral shipping from a zero-waste facility—even more reason to feel good about shopping with them! If you need another, you can save 25% on your first purchase by clicking the image below.
One thing to consider about Thrive is their $60 annual membership fee. After a free month trial, this is required for you to access their goods—similar to how Costco or Sam’s Club charges members to shop in their stores. It’s a steep investment upfront, but they claim that it gives you access to discounts of 25%-50% off retail pricing, which pays off if you shop regularly. Brandless and Honest Co. do not require an annual membership.
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Brandless: The simplest way to shop sustainably online?
Inherent in its name, Brandless offers freedom from premium brand pricing. Their tagline is “Better stuff, fewer dollars” and they strive to eliminate what they call BrandTax™ —i.e. the expensive distribution, middleman markups, and shelf stocking that are often passed on to consumers. By going direct to the source, all of their goods are priced from $1 to $5, with just a few specialty items at $9.
Although Brandless’ selection is basic compared to Thrive’s, it’s by design. For instance, the single bag of coffee they make available is the best they can find, which makes the choice as simple as take it or leave it. For those who suffer from decision fatigue (who doesn’t these days?), Brandless’ simplicity provides a breath of fresh air.
From a sustainability and impact perspective, they also have a lot to offer. They employ sourcing for the gold standard in every category—a philosophy that they call “Just What Matters”. That could mean non-GMO and organic for baby food, gluten-free for snacks, or sustainable for tuna. It’s a more nuanced approach to sustainability than those touted by other socially conscious brands. Brandless also donates a meal for every check out, having donated over 3 million meals to date. That’s something we can all feel good about contributing to.
The Honest Company: The ideal market for conscious parents?
Out of the three, Honest Co. has the smallest selection of organic items; only 14 in total, and only infant formula would count as food. What they truly specialize in is diapers and baby toiletries, which may not be organic, but are made responsibly with the earth and sustainability in mind. They also offer beauty, wellness, and cleaning products with their own private label. Unlike Thrive and Brandless, you can actually find their own brand in other stores too, including brick and mortar retailers across the country. Honest Co. also gives back by donating diapers and cleaning supplies to underserved communities, with over 18 million items donated so far.
Now that you have a flavor of each new organic online market, check out this chart that summarizes their core advantages.
Thrive Market vs Brandless vs Honest Co.: Organic Online Markets Compared
Top Organic Markets: Thrive vs Honest Co vs Brandless
|Specialty||350 low-price private labeled products curated with “Just What Matters” philosophy, including organic.||6000 premium goods that cater to specialty diets and shopping values, primarily organic.||Eco-friendly, safe, and sustainably sourced baby & cleaning supplies, plus vitamins and beauty products.|
|Social Impact||Donates the monetary equivalent of one meal to Feeding America for every purchase.||Gives free membership to low-income family, and all items are shipped from a zero-waste facility.||Donates diapers, personal care, and cleaning products to underserved communities. Uses recycled materials in packaging.|
|Shipping||Free over $48||Free over $49||Free over $50|
Every 2 to 8 weeks
Every 3 to 6 weeks
What are consumers saying online about Thrive vs Honest Co. vs Brandless?
Among organic shoppers, reviews of Thrive, Brandless, and Honest Co. are generally pretty positive. The selection, convenience, and access to information at the point of sale appears to be winning consumers over for the most part. Here are a few candid thoughts about each market from real customers:
Shoppers found new healthy favorites from Brandless.
Parents love the convenience of never running out of cute, all natural, eco-friendly diapers from Honest Co.
Thrive’s customers love their selection of hard to find specialty items.
The Verdict: Thrive Market vs Honest Co. vs Brandless Review
Overall there are two major reasons these so-called organic online markets are thriving. First, the selection of new speciality products, curated for a specific diet or shopping value, makes it easy to make more intentional, healthful choices. Second, subscription boxes and helpful health tips at the point of sale make shopping super convenient for items that otherwise wouldn’t always be easy to find and understand. (No more battling traffic only to realize you grabbed the wrong kind of almond butter!) Thrive, Honest Co. and Brandless are ideal for socially-conscious shoppers with a special diet or a busy lifestyle. In this day and age, a lot of people often fall into at least one of those groups.
With the most selection, Thrive seems like the clear winner in terms of diet customization. It’s a great option for anyone looking to discover the newest sustainable goods. They have two premium categories (frozen food and wine) that neither Brandless nor Honest Company offers. They also carry other brands that you may already be loyal to. So if you’re following a specific diet and want to make sure you have all the things you need to stay on track, Thrive seems well worth the $60 membership.
Brandless is a great starting point for anyone who has just recently become more conscious about their shopping choices, or simply prefers a more curated experience. You can sample organic food and toxic-free cleaning products in smaller quantities to see how you like them. They’ve carefully chosen each item in their selection repertoire, so you can trust that the quality is high without requiring additional research. Plus if solving hunger in America is your call to arms, then voting with your dollars at Brandless is kind of a no brainer.
While the Honest Company’s may not be the best choice for organic grocery shopping, it’s the top stop for globally-conscious parents. There’s definitely value in their diaper subscriptions for busy parents who want the very best for their infants. Throw in some infant formula, vitamins, and cleaning supplies — all of which are of course non-toxic and safe for kids. When you’re operating on two hours of sleep every night, it’s helpful to have one less thing to worry about!
Overall, organic online markets and their subscription offerings are definitely a positive answer to our modern, increasingly health-conscious consumer preferences. Thrive, Brandless, and Honest Co. help you free up time and headspace—which seems like healthy choice in and of itself. Of course you should always do your own research before choosing where to spend your hard-earned dollars. Doing so will make you feel even better about where you shop, and if you choose an online organic market, hopefully afford you more slow Sunday mornings in bed.