I can get into quite a state thinking about how gift-giving may be hyper-consumeristic and sometimes supports not-so-shining industries. I try to use this season as an opportunity to tweak gift-giving. I like to do it right under the Christmas tree and in the kitchen too. It is important for me to buy an organic, free range turkey because I feel sick preparing an industrially-produced one. I buy organic and fair trade sugar and chocolate. It disturbs me to think that we are eating and celebrating with chocolate that might have been picked by a child (see Carol Off’s Bitter Chocolate).
If I am not going to make things for others, I try to consider my options as to who can do it for me. This is where gift shopping comes into play. There are many ways of approaching this tradition that do not necessarily cure consumerism, but will make a small difference. Some of these gifts are fair trade, some of them involve making donations to good organizations. Hannah Sung of the Globe and Mail calls into question the scope of such strategies in Philanthropic shopping: to give and to get. Do we really need to get and give so very much? Maybe not. Can we actually redeem consumerism by tweaking it a bit? Yes, I believe so.
Some DIFY Ideas.
- Local artists and Etsy are great options.
- Go global and consider the fair-trade gift shop Ten Thousand Villages. (list of stores in Quebec).
- Items at the David Suzuki store are really cute and support the work of one of the most important Canadian icons working for environmental sustainability.
- Kiva is an organization that loans money to others and helps to change lives. It also happens to be chosen as one of Oprah’s Favorite Things 2010.
- ethiquette.ca highlights some great businesses in Quebec.
Tammy Schmidt, Montreal.
*In the coming days, we will post some Green Christmas Tips from a few of our friends: Brooke McCartney Langdon, Julie Webb and Jodi Hildebrand!