Ethical Shopping

The Second Annual Slave-Free Christmas Challenge Begins!

slavefreechristmas13

Last year I challenged myself to shop for Christmas gifts that would help people, not hurt them.  After learning about modern day slavery and all the products we consume that are harvested, stitched, mined, or assembled by slaves, I wracked my brain about what a minivan driving mama like me could do.  I decided to spend all of my Christmas dollars on handmade, upcycled, or fair trade products that would bless artisans and organizations around the world.

I had fun.  Acting as your personal slave-free shopper, I blogged the whole thing here, and you can find the ones from last year in my favorites.  I’ll be adding to the list throughout the month of November, so get ready to hear about phenomenal organizations, talented artisans, and giveaways.

Oh yeah, did I mention?  I’ve found a lot of really cool presents, and I want to share them with you guys.  So stay tuned for each week’s gorgeous giveaway!

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While sprinting through the self-checkout at Kroger the other day, I noticed a Christmas display sporting Christmas dishes, Christmas tinsel, Christmas ornaments, and a big fat Christmas tree.  It was the first week of October.

Let the Christmas cash cow begin.

Every year the Christmas spending spree starts a little earlier.  I’m an early shopper, so I get it.  My goal every year is to have my gifts bought and wrapped before Thanksgiving.  I’ll pause while you gag and throw food at the computer screen……………………………………………………………..Done?  Mkay.

For the last three years, I’ve made two changes in my Christmas spending.  I’ve bought less, and I’ve bought more.  Huh?  Yep, less and more.

First, I’ve bought less, and I mean fewer presents, fewer decorations, and fewer tinsely things to bauble around my house for a month.  I’ve tried to de-Santa and re-Jesus our festivities.  A few years ago, I started getting Christmas chaffage (When something chafes, you get “chaffage.”  Duh.  It’s a word, um, but don’t look it up.  Just believe me.).  I was Cindy Lou Who walking around Whoville singing, but instead of singing “Where Are You Christmas?” I was singing “Where Are You Christ?”  The diva in me hated that my son gave the bearded, cookie-scarfing fat guy all the credit for his awesome scooter, and I realized that a baby in a manger can’t compete with a whim-fulfilling gift guru.  Santa’s still around.  I didn’t remove him from our world, but I reduced him, put him on a Santa Slim-Fast.

Second, I’ve bought more from organizations and companies that support fair trade, through which artisans around the world create quality items and earn a fair wage, sustaining their businesses and their families.  By choosing wisely and paying extra careful attention to where my dollars go, I like to think that I’m spreading some REAL Christmas joy.  J-O-Y.

J – Justice for the oppressed

O – Opportunity for sustainable businesses for artisans

Y – Your gift for Jesus’s birthday

Justice and Opportunity can be Your gift.  As our friends and families unwrap our special presents, families around the world can also receive presents from us – income, freedom, life together.

Ugh.  Every time I walk in a store these days, I just think about slaves.  I feel my cart veering toward an only-a-dollar section and steer back on course, thinking “Slaves!”  Twenty-seven million of them around the world making many of the awesome bargains that we pluck off the shelves.  I DARE YOU to CLICK HERE and find out how many slaves work for you.  After four years of awareness and major changes in my spending, do you know I took this test to find out my Slavery Footprint, and – this is so embarrassing – I STILL have 60 slaves working for me!!!

Today, 27 million men, women, and children live as someone else’s property.  Slaves are making the items that I’m buying to celebrate the birth of my Lord and Savior.  Somehow I don’t think He’s blessed by the blood on His birthday presents.

This year, I’ve challenged myself to a Slave-Free Christmas.  Because so many of the world’s goods contain materials touched by the hands of those in slavery, technically, I should call it a Slave-Reduced Christmas (like how I eat a gluten-and-dairy-reduced diet, because once in awhile I fling caution to the wind, accept the diarrhea with a glad heart, and dig in to the insanely delicious cheesy potatoes at my mom’s house).  The laptop on which I’m typing this post contains materials mined by slaves.

But let’s call it a Slave-Free Christmas, because I sure do love the word “free” coming after the word “slave.”  I pray and hope for a world where every slave will be free.  This Christmas, I’m going to strive for slave-free giving.  Slave-freedom giving.  I’m going to do my research and shop from awesome companies and organizations that support artists and craftspeople and freedom and sustainability and all those cozy words.

Jesus came to bind up the brokenhearted and set the captives free.  On His birthday, I’m going to honor the Prince of Peace with gifts that He’ll like.  Maybe He wouldn’t wear the silver earrings Himself, but He sure loves the woman who made them and He’s sure happy that she earned enough money to feed her kids.

I’ll share all of my yummy finds here, so that all of you can have a Slave-Free Christmas, too.  Do you feel the J-O-Y?  Justice and Opportunity can be Your gift.  Consider me your personal shopper.

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