Why buy for a greater cause this holiday season?
As we set to go on our shopping sprees for the holidays we may want to consider products that go beyond a simple purchase. There are many wonderful conscious e-commerce stores that are working to do more with the products they sell, than just sell a brand or a product. They have integrated the making or manufacturing of goods as means to promote work, create long-term sustainability, and combat income disparity.
Shopping is changing. People want to shop for items that have more meaning; linked to a greater chain of good. With so many different representations of social good brands, we urge you to think about the sustainability that you are injecting along with your purchase. Sometimes it just takes a little forethought and planning.
Generally we all want to do good and if we can make our money do more than just buy a product, we would consciously choose those products over others. So how will you know what brands are doing good in a sustainable and long-term manner, without exhausting your time in research? We have two easy tips:
- Shop to give work or business not to give charity. Unless you're donating for natural disaster relief, charity that gives things away free of charge can cause dependence and the colapse of local economies (For more details See Poverty, Inc, the documentary). Avoid shopping brands that focus on one-for-one. Buying one and giving one free is a business model that has proven to have negative impacts on small businesses and individual entrepreneurs' livelihoods. Simply put, it's difficult or impossible to compete with free.
- Choose social good / conscious commerce businesses that are transparently working from the grassroots to create sustainable means of trade. Some characteristics to look for:
- The company seeks to provide consistent work and consistent sales for small to medium-sized (yet, largely unknown), highly skilled makers / artisans from places all over the world.
- They may be both for-profit and non-profit alike, as long as their model aims to have a more equitable distribution of wealth; paying makers sustainable wages or adequate prices for their products.
- They focus on hardworking, small makers, skilled in a traditional craft such as making furniture, jewelry, handbags, knitted goods, housewares, or other innovative handmade products, etc. The products they bring to market are unique, top-quality, and made to last. They are essentially creating jobs / work. They are more "slow-fashion" or paced commerce oriented.
- They sell at sustainable prices to pay the maker well for their products and keep their conscious business infrastructure improving and growing. When you consider the intricacies of creating a business, even an online business, to import, ship, travel, design collections, create sustainable work and market the products in the tight space of product sales, the only way that the business can survive and commit to good wages for all, is to charge appropriately. Prices may be on the higher end, but must be so, for businesses to remain sustainable for all stakeholders.
- Brands who significantly promote, with their sales and/or profits, the conservation, revival and growth of maker traditions, entrepreneurship, ongoing education, financial independence, self-dignity and value for well-made craftsmanship and well-earned livelihoods.
With these guidelines we can better trust that the brand or social business we are purchasing from is promoting independence for the makers/artisans of the products and also investing in a long term economic resurgence for the communities involved.
Maybe the thought of searching for greater knowledge and impact seems daunting. After-all we are a busy bunch and we need to get our shopping and giving done quickly. That's perfectly reasonable. So we hope this helps to narrow down your search time.
So this season, instead of giving your $1000 to charity or buying from regular retailers, buy goods from conscious retailers committed to improving income disparity and working to keep handmade, skilled traditions as viable sources of income. Your purchase will be valued, will promote work from the makers to the marketers and you'll know that you used your own, hard earned income in a wise manner.
There are several fair-trade, conscious commerce, social good businesses doing it right. Online and brick and mortar retailers that are bringing back to our markets, much nicer quality, unique products, made with passion and love. You sometimes can almost feel the hands of the makers.
By the way, to purchase from these conscious outlets you will want to plan ahead. Because most of us work with small makers, there are capacity limits and there are longer delivery times. TheMakerWorld.com makes this process a little more tolerable by providing you with a complimentary "IOU" card for you to send your loved one while they wait for their product. We have both an all-occasion card and a holiday card. We also provide a chance for your gift recipient to set up a time to view their product being made by their product's maker. A wonderful way to feel, value and love the product even more.
May your giving always be Conscious, Blissful, and Sustainable! Thank you for spreading the word about conscious, paced e-commerce and sustainable impact brands. Happy Shopping!