When you shop, you could be helping make a political statement without even knowing it. For example, the owners of Amway donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republican candidates, and in a new profile of Mark Constantine, the founder of Lush, we discover that in the past year alone, Lush has donated more than $1 million to environmental groups.

But these aren't just "hey, um, it would be nice if you would recycle" do-gooders; some are more progressive groups such as Sea Shepherd, a maritime conservation organization that favors direct-action protests. (They've attacked whaling ships, earning support from the Dalai Lama in doing so.) "I hate the criminalisation of the environmental movement," Constantine says. "These people are vilified as eco-terrorists, when what they're doing is a selfless act."

To raise money, Lush has introduced a variety of products to support its causes. It's recently introduced Jungle Soap, a palm-free soap whose proceeds benefit the Rainforest Foundation; 100 percent of the retail price of its Charity Pot body lotion goes to groups that (among other things) create sustainable farming in Mali, support UNICEF's Unite for Children campaign, and send used bikes to developing countries. In general, I prefer to shop at stores that are transparent about where my money might be going; it makes me feel good to know that my purchase could support a cause I believe in. (Conversely, if I found out that a company sends profits to, I don't know, the Campaign for Kitten-Shaving, I'd stop shopping there.) Are you the same way?