I avoid Black Friday shopping for the same reason I don’t go to the grocery store on Saturday mornings, Sundays or late afternoon on weekdays: I don’t like crowds, and people in a rush make me anxious.
That said, I do like shopping when I have money to spend. So, I don’t want to be a Black Friday party pooper, but I also want to encourage your holiday shopping to make a difference in the world, not just in your world.
Here are five places to shop tonight, and the rest of the holiday season (and all year long) that won’t leave you feeling guilty and will make a positive difference in someone else’s life.
1. Imagine Goods. I’ve told you before about the fabulous work these ladies are doing. But I’ll say it again. And again. And again. Here, they’re selling clothes, tablecloths, napkins, and aprons made through a trustworthy supply chain by workers earning a fair wage in Cambodia. They’re recycling clothing (and brass from landmines!) into new clothing and jewelry. And they provide a symbol on each of their pieces so you, the buyer, can learn about the person who made your clothing and what this job means to them.
2. Nozomi Project. A Japanese friend introduced me to this beautiful work. Through this project, Japanese women are finding hope and lives restored as they create jewelry from broken pottery left in the aftermath of the 2011 tsunami. The jewelry is beautiful and so are the stories.
3. The Exodus Road. Okay, this one is a limited time only. Ends Nov. 30. This anti-trafficking organization is offering gift packs ranging from $17-$25 that include a book about the organization, bumper stickers and a T-shirt or sweatshirt, depending on the donation. The real gift here isn’t what you get. It’s what you give. Purchasing a gift pack enables the funding of investigations into sex trafficking in Southeast Asia and India. Their goal by the end of tomorrow is to fund an entire year of investigations. Your purchase can help.
4. Restyle. I got a set of handmade cards from this company a few years ago, and they are gorgeous! Not only that, but they are eco-friendly and made by women earning a fair wage in India and El Salvador. (Are you sensing a theme here?) But cards are only a small part of their products. They, too, have jewelry made from seeds, wallets and bags made from recycled tire tubes, and ornaments made, in part, from recycled orange peels. I love innovation and creativity, and these products showcase that. And, again, they provide quality employment for women around the world.
5. Catalogs. When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait for the humongous department store catalog to show up at my grandparents’ house. Then my brother and I would flip through it and circle what we wanted for Christmas. That’s a bygone practice for department stores, but there are a ton of organizations that offer giving catalogs this time of year. In them you’ll find opportunities to give money toward gifts like goats and chickens, milk, mosquito nets, clean water and other life-saving necessities we take for granted but are absent in the poorest countries of the world. Check out organizations like Heifer International, Compassion, and Samaritan’s Purse for starters.
This is not in any way an exhaustive list of how you can give and shop with meaning this holiday season. But if you’re looking for a place to start, these are good options. Feel free to add your own ideas and suggestions in the comments.