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Shop Responsibly this Holiday

Posted on | December 21, 2008 | No Comments

For many, Christmas has become a commercial holiday. Instead of being a season of giving, we have bought into the media circus and it has become a season of greed and excess. This year tailor your shopping to be a bit more responsible in the items that you purchase. Shopping responsibly doesn’t stop at spending frugally for what we need or want. It is also a matter of global implication. By that, we mean that we look at the people behind the products that we invest our monies into.

For example, let’s say that you wanted to buy a diamond ring for the wife this year. There are several jewelry stores in your area but which is the best one to use? One jewelry store may get their diamonds from a mine in South Africa that employs unsafe practices for workers or pays less than fair wages. By patronizing that store, you are condoning the practices by which they received their merchandise.

Who would ever have thought that buying and selling would come to such a level, but it has. People who do not value human rights are counting on us to let our wants overshadow any responsibility we have to our enslaved brothers or the environment. Eco friendly groups work to inform us about what is going on in the world and how we can make a positive difference.

The biggest way that can happen is through our shopping. We spend billions of dollars during the holiday season for gifts, decorations, and other things. Make the purchases mean something to someone besides just the recipient.

Shopping responsibly leads to helping the environment. Purchase recycled wrapping paper, low energy lighting for Christmas trees, organic cotton for creating clothing, and recycled ornaments and decorations. This supports the recycling industry. All paper that is recycled may not be suitable for paper bags in grocery stores, but it will make Christmas cards, gift tags, and wrapping paper.

Visiting fair trade merchants supports cooperatives and groups working in favor of oppressed and impoverished peoples in countries all over the world. These artisans use recycled goods and natural products like stone and coal to create ornaments, decorations, baskets, utensils, and more to be sold on the open market. 

Fair trade merchandise can be purchased at a variety of stores including Wal-Mart, Target, Harris Teeter grocery stores, Whole Foods Market, and Costco. For a longer list of stores, go to www.transfairusa.org. Put in city and state or zip code to find merchants in your area who are fair trade certified.

Along those same lines, local merchants need your help and your patronage. Consider their wares when looking for unique gifts and decorations this year. Visit local farmers markets, flea markets, and trade shows to see who the local artisans are. Save the planet and prevent waste by making informed choices this holiday season. In the process you will discover a world of new products you never knew existed.

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