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From fair-trade products that support micro-finance in the developing world, to ethical businesses donating a percentage of sales to humanitarian causes, you can make a difference this season by shopping where it counts.
An ongoing Gallup poll study shows that the average spending for Christmas gifts has been between $600 and $900 per family for the last 10 years. There is a positive impact that can be made from focusing spending on gifts and causes that make a difference. With some dedication, we can use this holiday to make a marked change in the way the world looks, and the way people are treated, by voting with our money.
Dr. Ellis Jones is the author of “The Better World Shopping Guide,” a website that researches and reports on the environmental and social responsibility of companies, explains how directed spending correlates to power.
“It follows that wherever large amounts of money collect, so also new centers of power form,” Dr. Jones said. “This power is . . . controlling the fate of millions of people and the planet itself through jobs, resource exploitation, pollution, working conditions, energy consumption, forest destruction and so on.”
If we are using our dollars to vote this season, we are casting between 600 and 900 votes for the kind of world we want to live in.
Voices are good, but when it comes to big corporations, money is louder. Using our money to show what is important to us, as consumers, is the way to make the shift.
We do not need another boycott; we need a long-lasting shift. We need large corporations to see that the money they want is going to fair-trade, slave-free, community supportive, eco-friendly companies. And if they want it back, they need to implement the ethical practices that are worth spending money on.
Large-scale boycotts of some major companies have put on enough pressure to change some policies. For example, the Nestle boycott in 1977 changed things just long enough to cause a re-launch of the boycott in 1988. Our money has to be seen in someone else’s account if the big corporations will consider changing their ways. They need to see that we are willing to spend, just not willing to spend on their unethical practices.
An example of a meaningful business is the clothing company Jedidiah USA. They are dedicating 10 percent of all profits this season to Invisible Children, a non-profit that works with the former child solders of Uganda, and you aren’t getting second-rate clothing from them. Members of the Glee cast, among many other celebrities, have been seen in these stylish threads in their free time. Plus, who wouldn’t want to receive a Bomber Jacket that also helps build education in Uganda? It’s a great gift for a great cause and you will feel good wearing it.
This is the meaning we should put back into the holiday season.
You can also hop down to Pearl Street where you will find MomentuM, a fair-trade store where, “you will discover a world of meaningful things specifically chosen to satisfy your personal style and social conscience.” They are fair-trade, socially responsible and committed to promoting economic, social and environmental justice. Socially conscious clothing is just one quick bus ride away.
For more options, check out the upcoming Shopping for Good holiday bazaars. You can find a list of upcoming events focused on fair trade gift items and local artisans that will help you make all your shopping worthwhile.
With these resources you can get a list of companies and see how they rate as far as human rights, the environment, animal protection, community involvement and social justice is concerned. It is compiled from over 15 years of research and really easy to use. But beware that some of your childhood favorites may be on your next “Do Not Buy” shopping list.
Be part of the holiday movement to buy gifts that go further than just a wrapped box.
Darcie Nolan is an undergraduate student transferring into the CU School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She is also a co-founder of Eye See Media, a recognized “top 7 international venture”. www.eyeseeonline.com.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Darcie Nolan at Darcie.email@example.com.