Holiday without the hurt: Ethical shopping for the holidays

It’s that time of year when we put aside our differences and contribute to the oppressive corporate capitalist machine that only serves to further the degradation of human dignity to make money.

Such fond images are presented these days of chestnuts roasting over an open fire, families coming together to celebrate the holidays, and people being trampled for toasters and televisions in a scene reminiscent of the work of Norman Rockwell. The holidays are about giving to loved ones and bettering the world, so why are we shopping with a ruthlessness and carelessness for whom we give our money to?

Ethical buying is the name of the game. Avoid companies linked to the abuse of humans, animals and the environment. This is a big step to make, but living ethically is a great step to make, especially in the true spirit of the holidays. It doesn’t seem right to give money to a company or organization that doesn’t promote goodness in the world, and it is especially wrong to do so in the name of “holiday spirit”.

“The holidays have been lost in a blur of capitalism, and I don’t feel good buying gifts for my friends that I know hurt someone else, or the world in general,” Adelaide Muller ’17 said.

The Salvation Army is one example of a charity that does not live up to the holiday spirit. Having a long history of anti-LGBT*QIA policies and procedures, the Salvation Army is not the shining beacon of love and charity it makes itself out to be, and is not an organization that should be donated to. To read more about this click here. With their official motto being “fire and blood” I am not sure what else I expected.

A donation to National Public Radio (NPR) (public broadcasting matters!) a local museum, or shelter in a loved one’s name, could all be a lovely gift to give. Companies like LUSH, Lego, The Gap or Toms are great places to purchase a gift as well.

LUSH makes cruelty free cosmetics, and is committed to fighting animal testing. LUSH gives a quarter of a million euro prize every year to a person or group that has made progress in ending animal testing. They also sell a lotion called “Charity Pot,” where 100% of the proceeds go to help over 600 grassroots organizations that help humanitarian, environmental and animal rights initiatives. Other cosmetic companies, like Too Faced, Wet n’ Wild, ELF and nyx, are also cruelty free and can make a cute gift this holiday season, without harming a helpless animal.

Legos, for the children and children at heart, are an ethical brand to buy from, though they aren’t without problems. While they pledged to promote human rights, labor rights, environmental rights and anti-corruption laws, they haven’t lived up to their pledge in one area. They still print the Shell oil logo on a few of their oil tanker figures and this is problematic. In light of the recent oil spills, climate change, and need to save the earth (it is the only one we have!), Lego’s continuation to print the Shell logo on some of their toys sends a carelessly anti-environmental rights message.

That being said, for a kids toy company they are still pretty ethical.

Two clothing companies that are ethical for giving this season are The Gap and Toms. The Gap has recently made pledges to end their use of sweatshop labor and angora wool, meaning that no human or animal cruelty go into the purchase of a gift from The Gap.

Another charitable and ethical company to buy from is Toms shoes. Well known now for their “one for one” motto, Toms shoes are a great way to give and give back.

A final great place is Half Price Books. It is wallet and earth friendly. Half Price Books sells a lot of great books, with a selection rivaling most bookstores, at a great price without killing trees. When buying a used book, the author still receives royalties, and it’s a recycled gift, so you won’t be deforesting the earth this holiday season!

Another earth and wallet friendly gift idea is to hand make a gift. This way, you know for sure that there was no cruelty inflicted (I hope) in the making of the gift. Paint a portrait, knit a scarf or mix a homemade shower scrub (recipes can be found online really easily). The possibilities are endless.

Overall, being aware of where you shop and to whom you give your money is important. Whether it’s for the Holidays, or in your daily life, be critical of the world you live in and be aware. Happy Holidays, Katies. It has been a pleasure writing for you this semester!

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