Mental Post-Its

Thoughts, Notes and General Mental Mayhem


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I’m Buying HOPE, JOY and PEACE This Holiday Season

This is a repost of a blog I did last year about this time because it’s a message that still resonates strongly with me, and I hope it will with you too. May your holiday shopping be full of hope and happiness for all.

 


 

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A few months ago I read Pursuing Justice by Ken Wytsma. I wasn’t expecting the book that it turned out to be, but it was still very good. It sort of turned out to be a Bible study on justice. I would definitely recommend it, and not just for those passionate about the issue like me, but even for the mildly curious. I learned a lot and will be marinating on it for a long time to come.

There were a few things mentioned in the book that stuck with me, but none more than what I wanted to share with you now. Did you know that it costs approximately $21 billion to get clean, safe drinking water to everyone in the world? If you weren’t aware, almost 1 in 7 of the world’s population doesn’t have access to this most basic need. $21 billion. I know, right, it sounds like a lot—like a whole lot! It sounds like scratching our heads and calling summits and raising money and finally reconciling ourselves to the fact that $21 billion is impossible to find in a world drowning in debt. Sometimes it sounds like giving up.

And then I found out…

The National Retail Federation estimates that over $600 BILLION will be spent in November and December this year. I’m sorry, what? That’s just this season. When I think about it, that makes me sick. In fact, the contrast in those two numbers has literally haunted me since I’ve read the book.

I think about people I know that rush around trying to buy gifts, any kind of gifts, for the people on their Christmas list. Mostly those are close family and friends, but usually there’s at least one obligatory gift on there as well. I think of gifts that aren’t bought out of need, but out of courtesy. I think of the stress so many people feel when it comes to the holidays. It seems to be more about putting anything under the tree that caring about what it is, as long as you’ve checked that box.

Something. Has. To. Change.

I love the holidays. I love the chill in the air, and the warm drinks. I love watching Christmas movies. I love decorating my apartment. I love seeing twinkle lights go up everywhere. And I love buying gifts. Gift giving is one of my love languages. It makes me happy to see the look on people’s face when I give them a gift. In fact, the anticipation of seeing their faces when I give them the gift makes me happy! I have always tried very hard, whether it’s a birthday or Christmas, to find the perfect gift that will make the recipient smile. It’s a challenge that I relish.

And, if I do say so myself, I’m pretty good at it. But the last few years, ever since pursing justice myself and learning more about supply chain and slave labor, I’ve tried to challenge myself in a new way. I try very hard to find not only gifts of meaning, but gifts that do good or do not perpetuate slave labor. I’m also an environmentalist, so I try to cut down on packaging and reuse when possible. So, really, I thought I could pat myself on the back from up on my high horse—until I read those statistics.

Now I’m trying to figure out how to do more. I can’t completely give up gift-giving, because I love it so much, but there is more I can do. For one thing, I can help educate you. What if we all started buying differently? What if we started contributing more and consuming less? What if we took a hard look at the real difference between shopping and giving? What if the presents had real meaning, not just for the recipient you know, but those who created it or will benefit from the purchase? What if?

Here is an awesome video by Advent Conspiracy to help illustrate. In fact, they have a lot of great personal and church resources to help you explore this idea. I’m looking forward to reading their book this season.

As I said, I don’t have this all figured out, but I’m trying. I want to contribute, not just consume. I want buy better and think better and live better. And even more, I want that for everyone else. I want it for you, and those you know, and those around the world who don’t have clean water or adequate shelter or who live in fear. We all share this world.

The holidays are a season of hope. Hope, joy, peace—we see those words written on everything this time of year from cards to commercials. What if they weren’t just platitudes? What if we added those to our Christmas list? What if, when we started buying gifts, we kept those three words in mind? Will the things we buy this season promote hope or joy or peace? If not, then let’s not buy them. Find a better alternative. I bet there’s one out there.

Here are a few places to help you get started:

Purchasing on Amazon? Use Amazon Smile

Purchase with Purpose

Free2Work

Not For Sale Store

Better World Shopper

Greater Good

Free to Shop

World Vision Gift Catalog

Fair Trade USA

Ten Thousand Villages

Charity Water

Kiva

Living Water International

International Justice Mission Gift Catalog

Notes From a Thoughtful Life

The Good Shopping Guide

Ethical Consumer

 

There are so many more, though, so keep looking! And if you need to go the department store route, you could even institute your own TOMS-esque one for one model. For example, if you give someone a shirt, donate one as well. Challenge each other to be better, think creatively and give more.

Give gifts that tell stories, and write yourself a new one in the process.

______________________________________

And here’s a great article from the TODAY Show about families who try to put more meaning into gifts and the holidays.

Here is another from LearnVest, a money budgeting site if you’re looking for a more frugal point-of-view.

One more from journalist/activist, Nick Kristoff, whom I greatly admire.

 

DID I MISS YOUR FAVORITE RESOURCE? PLEASE ADD IT IN THE COMMENTS SECTION! I’D LOVE TO HEAR ABOUT IT.

 

(Note: Amazon links are affiliate links.)

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Shopping vs. Giving

136159002A few months ago I read Pursuing Justice by Ken Wytsma. I wasn’t expecting the book that it turned out to be, but it was still very good. It sort of turned out to be a Bible study on justice. I would definitely recommend it, and not just for those passionate about the issue like me, but even for the mildly curious. I learned a lot and will be marinating on it for a long time to come.

There were a few things mentioned in the book that stuck with me, but none more than what I wanted to share with you now. Did you know that it costs approximately $21 billion to get clean, safe drinking water to everyone in the world? If you weren’t aware, almost 1 in 7 of the world’s population doesn’t have access to this most basic need. $21 billion. I know, right, it sounds like a lot—like a whole lot! It sounds like scratching our heads and calling summits and raising money and finally reconciling ourselves to the fact that $21 billion is impossible to find in a world drowning in debt. Sometimes it sounds like giving up.

And then I found out…

The National Retail Federation estimates that over $600 BILLION will be spent in November and December this year. I’m sorry, what? That’s just this season. When I think about it, that makes me sick. In fact, the contrast in those two numbers has literally haunted me since I’ve read the book.

I think about people I know that rush around trying to buy gifts, any kind of gifts, for the people on their Christmas list. Mostly those are close family and friends, but usually there’s at least one obligatory gift on there as well. I think of gifts that aren’t bought out of need, but out of courtesy. I think of the stress so many people feel when it comes to the holidays. It seems to be more about putting anything under the tree that caring about what it is, as long as you’ve checked that box.

Something. Has. To. Change.

I love the holidays. I love the chill in the air, and the warm drinks. I love watching Christmas movies. I love decorating my apartment. I love seeing twinkle lights go up everywhere. And I love buying gifts. Gift giving is one of my love languages. It makes me happy to see the look on people’s face when I give them a gift. In fact, the anticipation of seeing their faces when I give them the gift makes me happy! I have always tried very hard, whether it’s a birthday or Christmas, to find the perfect gift that will make the recipient smile. It’s a challenge that I relish.

And, if I do say so myself, I’m pretty good at it. But the last few years, ever since pursing justice myself and learning more about supply chain and slave labor, I’ve tried to challenge myself in a new way. I try very hard to find not only gifts of meaning, but gifts that do good or do not perpetuate slave labor. I’m also an environmentalist, so I try to cut down on packaging and reuse when possible. So, really, I thought I could pat myself on the back from up on my high horse—until I read those statistics.

Now I’m trying to figure out how to do more. I can’t completely give up gift-giving, because I love it so much, but there is more I can do. For one thing, I can help educate you. What if we all started buying differently? What if we started contributing more and consuming less? What if we took a hard look at the real difference between shopping and giving? What if the presents had real meaning, not just for the recipient you know, but those who created it or will benefit from the purchase? What if?

Here is an awesome video by Advent Conspiracy to help illustrate. In fact, they have a lot of great personal and church resources to help you explore this idea. I’m looking forward to reading their book this season.

As I said, I don’t have this all figured out, but I’m trying. I want to contribute, not just consume. I want buy better and think better and live better. And even more, I want that for everyone else. I want it for you, and those you know, and those around the world who don’t have clean water or adequate shelter or who live in fear. We all share this world.

The holidays are a season of hope. Hope, joy, peace—we see those words written on everything this time of year from cards to commercials. What if they weren’t just platitudes? What if we added those to our Christmas list? What if, when we started buying gifts, we kept those three words in mind? Will the things we buy this season promote hope or joy or peace? If not, then let’s not buy them. Find a better alternative. I bet there’s one out there.

Here are a few places to help you get started:

Purchase with Purpose

Free2Work

Not For Sale Store

Better World Shopper

Greater Good

Free to Shop

World Vision Gift Catalog

Fair Trade USA

Ten Thousand Villages

Charity Water

Kiva

Living Water International

International Justice Mission Gift Catalog

There are so many more, though, so keep looking! And if you need to go the department store route, you could even institute your own TOMS-esque one for one model. For example, if you give someone a shirt, donate one as well. Challenge each other to be better, think creatively and give more.

Give gifts that tell stories, and write yourself a new one in the process.

______________________________________

And here’s a great article from the TODAY Show about families who try to put more meaning into gifts and the holidays.

Here is another from LearnVest, a money budgeting site if you’re looking for a more frugal point-of-view.

One more from journalist/activist, Nick Kristoff, whom I greatly admire.


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Purchase With Purpose

You may be surprised to learn that I’ve done more this year than be sick, but it’s true. 😉

Over the past few months, a few Not For Sale Georgia friends and I have been working on an ethical buying guide called Purchase With Purpose. It’s definitely been a labor of love—a three-month labor that felt like the full nine! It started earlier this year when I learned more about the problem with child labor in the chocolate industry. I then wanted to make sure I was purchasing chocolate that was free of slave labor. From there, I wanted to expand into other areas of my life. I felt convicted to make sure that as many of my buying choices as possible reflect my values and concern for modern-day slavery. This trek wasn’t new to me as I had previously worked in the environmental sector, and had already made “green” a priority. Luckily for me, these worlds overlap in many ways.

But then I began to think about my friends and family. I wanted to help them make better choices. Even though this cause wasn’t theirs, I know many people who would do good by making safe buying choices; they just needed to be educated to do so. Think about it for a moment. If there were two pair of jeans, about the same price, style and quality, but one had a safe supply chain one was questionable, which would you buy? Many people I know would by the ones from a company who was doing good things. It’s the reason we all own TOMS shoes. You buy them not just because their cute, but a child in need receives a pair of shoes. Easy decision. I own four pairs!

I then approached my Not For Sale state directors about the idea. What if we created a buying guide that gave people a list of companies with safe supply chains? (A safe supply chain simply means that the items you buy were made without slave labor. From the raw materials to the finished product, all workers were treated fairly, paid a livable wage, and not forced or coerced to perform their job. Sadly, with over 30 million slaves around the world living today, you may find yourself surprised to know the reality of how your chocolate, clothes, soap, lamps, toys, electronics and anything in-between came to be.) And to build on that idea, what if we focused our fall quarterly meeting around the idea of buying ethically for the holidays?

They were both on board, and the project was given the green light. I’d seen some other buying guides, so this wasn’t a revolutionary idea. However, I wanted to help create one that 1) didn’t focus a lot on niche brands which most people didn’t know and didn’t have much access to, and 2) included local businesses. I wanted to make it approachable for the everyday consumer. And I wanted to reward and recognize local businesses who were going good.

A few others jumped in to help, and we began in late August. It’s been a wild and crazy couple of months. We unofficially debuted the guide at Not For Sale’s annual conference, the Global Forum, a few weeks ago. This was particularly exciting because the NFS main office became interested in what we were doing, and also very supportive. In fact, Emily, my partner on the project, and I were asked to speak at the event on our guide and how consumers can become more engaged in the issue. Our little audience responded well to what we had to say, and many gave us their email addresses to receive a final copy of the guide! That was definitely a highlight for me, as it was exciting to share all this research we’d been doing. And I wanted people to understand that, in reality, this wasn’t that hard. Since then, we’ve been invited into Not For Sale’s conversations on supply chains.  They have an excellent resource called Free2Work that I recommend if you want to learn more about forced labor and safe supply chains. They are able to do much more extensive research than us, and always adding to their list of reviewed companies. Additionally, F2W just released a report this week on ratings in the apparel industry. It’s good stuff. We are really thrilled to be a part of this conversation with them.

However, tonight was our big night! This is the night we’ve been counting down to. We officially debuted the Purchase With Purpose guide tonight at our NFS GA quarterly meeting! It seemed to be a big hit, and if it helps people buy better, then it’s done it’s job. All I wanted in the beginning was a tool to help the people I know buy better. I wanted my dollars to make sense. And I am proud to say I’ve done that.

Along with the guide announcement, Emily conducted a panel featuring speakers from several ethical companies: Foojee, Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee Co., Noonday Collection, Socialvest, Ten Thousand Villages and The Learning Tea. These folks were great! They educated and inspired the audience, and I truly believe they helped change some buying habits tonight. It was fantastic company to be in.

I’ve gotta say, I am still kind of amazed at how much this project has grown. I was hoping for the guide to 100 companies—we ended up with 250+ local, regional, national and international brands. And we still have plans to expand it. There are talks about making it an e-book or a website. Someone at the Global Forum even asked us if we were going to start writing or petitioning legislation on the matter! At this point, though, who knows. I just want it to be a resource for people like me, people who want to do good in the world. I think there are a lot of us out there. In fact, I think it’s the future of business. If you look closely, you are seeing it all around. As I saw with the eco-friendly movement, I believe supply chains are the next big issue in retail. More and more people care about what corporations do with their dollars. They want to support companies who have heart. They want to be a part of something that matters. And if they can do that by buying better toothpaste, then why not?

Start small. Start somewhere. Start today. Purchase with purpose.

 

To grab your own FREE copy of the guide, visit http://bit.ly/purchasewithpurpose. You can view and download it from there.

And if you’d like to connect with Not For Sale Georgia, text “NFSGA” to 50500.