Ethical Holidays, pt. 3

Today is the third blog in the Ethical Holiday series, and today we get very practical.  Today is all about the tools and resources you can use as a guide to help you consume more ethically this holiday season.    This is the "ok, so now what" blog.

Electronics - electronics (computers, tablets, gaming systems, etc) get a lot of attention, during the holidays, in fact, Sony just released its fourth play station and X-box 1 has also just been released.  Of those two, could you guess which is the most ethical?  Would you even know to ask that question?  The truth is, our electronics are made up of different minerals that are mined out of Africa.  When it comes to electronics, your goal should be to buy electronics made from companies that aim at purchasing conflict-free minerals. To help you out with that, check out this buying guide by clicking HERE

Chocolates, coffee, & sugar  - In the next few months we will buy and use more of these products than any other products combined.  Fortunately, these products seem to be the most clear cut when it comes to making ethical choices, here are some good guidelines:

  • Free2Work - click HERE to go to the website.  Take it a step further and download their app to your smart phone, then you can actually scan bar codes at the store and you'll get the company's ratings as you shop.  
  • Dark Side of Chocolate - check out the website by clicking HERE, and if you have about 40 minutes, check out the documentary, it's worth the watch. 
  • Dark Chocolate - for a more informative read and analysis of chocolate, click HERE and download this detailed pdf.  
  • Fair Trade USA - take some time to surf through this website, read up on coffee, chocolate and sugar and learn for yourself why that little fair trade logo is so important.  Click HERE.  
  • Rule of Thumb - okay, what if I forget all of this?  That's a good question, but that's where the Free2Work app comes in.  But just in case, a good rule of thumb is to stay away from store brands like WalMart, Safeway, etc -  if store brands are a must, aim for places like WholeFoods, Central Market, Trader Joes.  Stay away from generics, and big brands alike - Hersey, Nestle, Mars, etc....  Look for that free trade logo, that's your safe place.  Yes it is more expensive this way, however if you are on a budget, the price shouldn't keep you away from buying it, it just means you have to buy less of it - which is not a bad thing, considering our society's love for excess.  

Toys and clothes: Often times the most driving force behind the clothes and toys we purchase for our loved ones, are the gifts that get the least amount of thought.  This is the easy shopping - our child, friend, or significant other tells us what they want, and all we have to do is go to the store and buy it without even giving ethics a thought.  Below is a list that will help you use ethics as a guide.  

  • Free2Work - Again, I'm going to point you to the Free2Work app, click HERE
  • Made in a Free World - take some time to read through this initiative by clicking HERE
  • Rule of Thumb - Stay away from Carters baby clothes, WalMart clothes, Sketchers, OshKosh - there are many others, but these are all popular, so just stay away from them.  Stay away from toys like Matchbox, FisherPrice, Matel, KungZhu, Leap Frog - again there are many more, but these are popular toys.  Stay away from any clothes where they are made in or the cotton is harvested in Uzbekistan. 
  • Alternatives -
    • Local: do your best to buy American made, and if you want to take it a step further, look for things (this applies to food as well) that are made locally - support local business.  
    • Global: Find organizations that sell and make things like jewelry and clothes that actually support international indigenous folks with living wages, like Noon Day CollectionHaitian Creations and Good and Fair - there are many others, if you know of some good ones, I'll be happy to add them to this page. 
    • Experiences - Buy experiences, not stuff.  I get it, we wouldn't even feel like we had Christmas if we didn't have a few wrapped pieces of plastic under the tree, that will immediately depreciate in value and become another dust collector.  But the memory of experiences can't be undone.  Get creative - what else could you do or where could you go if you took all the money you spend on gifts and pointed that to an amazing experience together - for instance, buy some great gear from Kammok and plan your families first camping trip.  
    • Others - Grab your kids, sit them around the table, and discuss how you all could take some of the money you normally would spend in house and point it outward to true needs - let your kids be part of the decision, so they get to be part of the giving.
      • World Vision Gift Catalog, click HERE
      • Survivors of Trafficking - if you live in Austin, you can buy gifts for local survivors of Trafficking, click HERE
      • Adopt a local family - connect with a local church, community organizations, schools that serve low-income populations, etc and find out how your family can take care of their holiday needs and desires.
      • Help One Now's Legacy Project, click HERE