Opportunities for Ethical Giving
IT IS QUIET FOR NOW
Katy Lytal | Ethical Infant
THIS IS MY FAVORITE TIME OF YEAR. The world is quiet for now. Yes, I did just put on my first sweatshirt. Perfection. Part of me loves a good sweatshirt because no one can tell if I’m wearing a bra underneath it or not (tee-hee). But the other part of me realizes that putting on a sweatshirt represents a little bit more. The air is cooling, and season is changing. My thoughts are minimally jumbled as I survey them on my paper. There is a familiar rumble about. I am sure that you are familiar with it. There is the low murmur of excitement, the buzz of impending joy, and possibly a hint of tension. So begins the list making. I look back down at my paper. I examine potential candidates and write a few notes next to each name. Yes, it is that season again- voting season. Of course I am not referring to anything remotely political. I am referring to something potentially much larger.
“The manner of giving is worth more than the gift.”
I close my journal for a moment and read the quote on the front. The quote is from 17th century French dramatist, Pierre Corneille; it says, “The manner of giving is worth more than the gift.” Beautiful, right? But where am I going with this? (At this point you may be questioning my previous statement about my, “minimally jumbled thoughts”, but stick with me.) So, what does a 17th century playwright have to do with the changing of the season? A lot, I hope.
You see, the season that we are rapidly approaching is the gift-giving season. And yes, you are right, I already said that it was also voting season. Could these two seemingly different activities be one in the same? I say, yes. Momentarily it may seem a bit coarse to discuss these two topics, gift giving and voting, in the same arena. However I assure you that it is not. How do these two relate to one another? Let’s take a closer look.
I love the holidays. I love the time with family; wrapping gifts, eating holiday treats and taking part in family traditions. But, I need to confess something to you. Almost every year, around this time, I have a very narrow view of life. I worry about little things. Did I get my mom something that she’s going to like? Did I buy enough for the kids? What should I get the teacher? First-world problems, right? As could be said of many things in my life over the years, my thinking has been completely wrong during the holidays.
I have failed to step back. I have failed to see the greater impact that my gift giving has, or could have. Purchasing is power. There is an opportunity here. There is a voice, or should I say vote. With every purchase that I make, I am reaffirming that which I wish to perpetuate. It’s all well and good for me to wish and hope for the conditions of others to improve. Wishes and hopes are lovely thoughts, but that is all, just thoughts. In a place of such unmatched affluence, isn’t there more that I can do beyond wishing and hoping? Yes, there most certainly is. Gift giving however is an action. When I step back, when I look at what I can do, I am astounded by the possibilities.
Opportunities for ethical giving are all around (thank you internet), and my ability to do something meaningful is real. What do I mean you ask? Well, with every holiday purchase that I make, what if I took a big step back? What if I thought about loving more than just the recipient of the gift that I am giving? What if I thought about giving to others as well? Really, I won’t just be well wishing and sending good thought this year. I will be taking action. It’s truly exciting. Pick a cause, condition, plight, whatever you’re passionate about, and I assure you that you can find a company that is making a positive change that you can support.
On a local level, take companies like Mitscoots. They make beautiful socks and employ those transitioning out of homelessness. For every pair of socks that you purchase, they donate a pair to someone in need.
On a global level, there are companies like Jewel and Lotus. They have created an ethical, global market place. The goods that they offer make it possible for folks around the world to do everything from accessing education, to overcoming poverty and human trafficking.
If you are concerned with the environment, there are companies like Snuggle Me Organic that produce infant solutions using only organic materials.
Really, name a cause. There is someone out there paving way, and making it possible for us to support that which we are passionate about. As I think forward to giving gifts this year, I am inspired to find out about what is important to those that I will be giving gifts to. Wouldn’t it be cool if I could give someone a lovely gift that also supported a cause that they were passionate about?
Yes, it may take a little bit more time to do my shopping this year; so I will start now. My mom has said to me so many times, “Show me where you spend your money, and I’ll show you what’s important to you.” Good old mom. It’s true though. If I am concerned with the availability of organic products for my family, then I should be purchasing them. If I am concerned with animal cruelty, then I should be buying vegan products. So, getting back to where we began. Every purchase IS a vote. Corneille was right, the manner of giving is more important than the gift.
"How then, keeping this new mantra in mind, would our gift buying be different?"
I do love a good Gandhi quote, but from time to time they seem overused. I am sure that you’ve heard, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Maybe it’s time for an update to this quote. Maybe it’s time for something more tangible, something more direct. What if our mantra this year became, “Buy the change you want to see in the world.” How then, keeping this new mantra in mind, would our gift buying be different? In addition to making well wishes and sending good thoughts this year, lets make thoughtful purchases, and lets send gifts that make a positive difference.
Peace be with you this holiday.
Katy Lytal is a Mompreneur, and Co-founder of Ethical Infant: Organic, Fair Trade, Vegan Fashion for Infants. She’s inspired by thoughtful, crunchy living.
“I adore every minute with my little loves. I truly believe that joy and health go hand in had. Most of the time I try not to drive my hubby crazy with crafts, creations, and chaos- he’s a good sport.”
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