As many of us gear up for the holiday season, purchasing gifts for everyone on our list can be difficult. This is especially true when we would rather not spend our money at Big Box stores that care little about where products are made, how the workers who made them were treated, and other factors that make being a conscious consumer a morally and ethically painful experience.
With that thought in mind, here are suggestions for ways to give that will delight the recipients while also giving back something meaningful to the world at large. This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but it is a good start for those who wish to shop in a manner that has a ripple effect beyond the cash register.
Global Exchange Fair Trade Store: fair trade gifts from around the world
The Hunger Site Store: gifts from around the world. You can also purchase "gifts that give more" such as a high-efficiency cookstove for refugee families in Darfur. Your family member or friend receives a card detailing how the gift given in their honor will feed a family.
Handcrafting Justice: lovely handmade, fair trade gifts
Uncommon Goods: quality gifts wherein a percentage of the sale goes to progressive causes. This organization also has some brick & mortar locations.
Best Friends Wildlife Sanctuary: our favorite animal rescue group who saved over 250,000 animals from Hurricane Katrina. You can sponsor an animal in a loved one's name and create an enduring connection that everyone can feel good about. We support this Utah-based group year-round.
Gifts With Humanity: another fair trade website.
Ten Thousand Villages: fair trade merchant with online presence and some brick & mortar locations around the country
World Widlife Fund: adopt an endangered animal and send your gift recipient a stuffed animal and certificate of adoption. Great for kids.
There are many more sites for such types of gift ideas. Simple type "fair trade gifts" or "fair trade shopping" into Google and see for yourself.
Good luck, and remember that gifts do indeed give more when they have been manufactured fairly, when workers have been treated and paid well, when the environment is not degraded during the manufacturing process, and when we know what our money is actually supporting.
Happy holidays to all.