Consumerism, Christmas and #FairTuesday

FairTuesday

Ever since posting my Catching Fire post, my heart has been so heavy.  I’m convicted of my materialistic mindset and our culture’s consumerism.  It’s even more apparent this time of year.  I read one statistic that said 11 billion dollars would be spent on Black Friday.  Billion.  I realize that much of Black Friday is actually wise spending.  If you need something and it’s greatly discounted anyway, then go for it.  But much of Black Friday isn’t wise spending.  And much of our culture isn’t about buying what we need.

Please don’t feel condemnation from me here—I just want to share where my heart is.  I’m guilty just as much as anyone.  God has been dealing with me about this for years.  If you’ve followed me for a few years, you’ve been through my Crazy Love moments, my Radical moments, my 7 moments, my blood:water belt moments.  All of these have been steps of letting go of what I “need” and learning to give out of our excess.

I can’t say I have it mastered.  I still buy things I don’t need and my kids are spoiled.  But there’s been progress and this is a journey.

But lately, I feel convicted about the things we do buy and at what expense to others they come.  Tsh’s post about chocolate before Halloween may have been the catalyst.   She explained that much of the chocolate we buy is because of forced child labor.  CHILDREN are working cocoa farms so *I* can enjoy my Reese’s cups and M&M’s.  This is not a movie.  It’s not pretend.  It’s real children in real places being exploited for my personal benefit.

And it’s not just chocolate.  It’s our coffee, our clothes, our shoes, our purses—so many things.  And y’all, it makes my heart so, so much.  My purchases are hurting God’s people.  I don’t care if I never look them in the face or know a name.  My purchases matter.  We hold so much power in our hands as consumers and what is our power doing?  Making slaves of others.  There is no other way to say it.  It’s not being dramatic. It’s not guilt-tripping anyone.  That is the truth.

And so here I am so devastated and Christmas comes along.  Our list is like anyone’s—full of all sorts of things.  And hear me—I so believe in giving others gifts just as Christ is a gift to us.  Christmas is a wonderful time to remember what Christ did for us and a chance to show our loved ones how much we care.  But are we hurting others far away in an attempt to show love to those close to us? 

So here I go, it’s Christmas season.  Tsh posted her ethical shopping guide and today is #FairTuesday where it’s encouraged to to buy ethical, fair trade items.  I’m excited.

But guys? I don’t know how else to say it. Very, very little of what’s out there are viable options to give to our family members.

Most of what you’ll find are scarves, jewelry, tote bags and T-shirts.  While I LOVE most of that stuff, my father-in-law doesn’t.  My male cousins don’t.  My kids don’t.  My aunt doesn’t.  Heck, even I am at my limit of scarves and tote bags.

The big companies that DO offer things that are ethical and interesting to them are so overpriced that there’s no way we could afford Christmas!

I kind of threw my hands up this weekend and concluded that our culture is just simply not there.  We have put ourselves in such a terrible predicament that even when we want to buy ethically, the options are just too slim or expensive.

This morning though, my heart was just aching as I looked over the options again.  Lord, what am I supposed to do?  I was reading over at FairTuesday.com and they are simply asking for one—ONE—gift to be bought ethically and explain how much of a good difference that makes.  One bracelet can provide clean water for TWO MONTHS in Guatemala. One dress can send a child to school for an entire month in India.  So this is how God answered me: Bring me your fishes and loaves and I will make much of it.  From five fish and two loaves, I fed 5,000. I can do much with your small obedience.

I cannot buy every single gift and everything I need like I want, but I can buy something and God can make much of it.   God is in the multiplying business and if I can just make one good purchase, he can multiply the affects far beyond what I can imagine.  It won’t free all the slaves, but it might free one.  And that matters–it matters so much.

So, I conclude urging myself and all of us to get informed.  Understand at what expense your purchases come to others.  I still don’t have a grasp on everything that is “bad” and what is “good.” But if we find something good, even if the change is small, do it and let God multiply. 

A few resources I’ve found are:

Please, I’m just learning–if you have resources to share with me to learn more, do so and perhaps share this post so we can all learn together.

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Comments

  1. Such a great post. This has been on my heart over the last year as well and I am trying to make better shopping choices this season. It won’t be perfect and it won’t be all the gifts, but like you said, it’s somewhere to start. I started reading this blog recently: http://www.letsbefairblog.com/. Some good ideas there.
    Carly recently posted…December Photo Project: Day 2My Profile

  2. Love this, Amy! Great post–to just do ONE thing. It’s not something one person can carry, but together we can make a difference. I love http://www.karamagifts.com/–they have home stuff too for grandparents, aunts, etc. And http://www.groundtocupcoffee.com/ has great coffee for gifts! And here’s another awesome link: http://www.sixtyfeet.org/givingtuesday/ Apparently Amazon can give to charities of shopper’s choice too! I know I get a lot of my gifts from Amazon. : )

  3. Emily Wright says:

    Thanks SO much for this post. I had no idea that fair trade tuesday was a thing! I am so uninformed about where I buy from. Using your link FairTradeTuesday.com, I went to beadedhope.org and bought some SUPER cute ornaments to gift this year. They are even 50% off today! I can’t wait to browse more!

  4. This is a tough one to navigate, indeed. I struggle with the tug-of-war between how-many-scarves-and-bead-necklaces-do-me-and-my-friends-really-need and the cost and the fact that my husband doesn’t want a scarf or bead necklace ;) …but still desperately wanting my purchases to be harm-free, conscious and God-honoring! Oy.
    Do you know Hayley Morgan of the Tiny Twig? She hosted an awesome guest blogger a few weeks ago who talked about “shopping with ethics”. She shared a good list of links to check in on your fave brands, brands that are eco- and social conscious, etc. Check it out: http://www.thetinytwig.com/2013/11/12/shopping-with-ethics-a-5-step-guide/
    I love the quality versus quantity idea and I’m working on it, slowly but surely… again, baby steps :)
    Jessi recently posted…7 out of 31My Profile

  5. Great post, Amy! Thanks for all the good links to check out!

    a
    ohAmanda recently posted…Unto You…My Profile

  6. I just love this, Amy. So well said and articulating what so many of us are thinking. I found this very encouraging and not condemning at all – we each do what we can and God fills in the rest! Thank you for sharing this!
    Erin @ Home with the Boys recently posted…The Family That Runs Together…My Profile

  7. This is so well written! Thanks for sharing! I read the book Kisses from Katie this summer and it completely changed my mind set regarding the blessings God has given me and my family. I was so inspired I signed up as a Compassion Entrepreneur with Trades of Hope. You can check out our artisans products at http://www.mytradesofhope.com/kariseibel
    Guy items are really tough to find! I know we are working with our artisans to get more of a selection that will appeal to males.

  8. I totally think that you nailed it in this post. I think we get overwhelmed with the feeling that we have to do EVERYTHING and forget that we can just do one thing or something to make a very big difference.

  9. Also, this is just me, but most guys like music. How about finding bands that do the right thing and supporting them. :)
    Katrina recently posted…Pollyanna & The New Comment PolicyMy Profile

    • That is a fantastic idea! Love it. It reminds me of one of our favorite gifts to my father-in-law–a one-time cooking class at Johnson & Wales. I think experiences are a great gift and all this talk about “stuff” made me forget. Thanks.

  10. Amy, you really speak my mind! After my trip to Haiti and Honduras and reading about different causes, my wants have become less and less. My giving with what I can, have increased. For past few Christmases, I have been depressed and I do not know why. It could be the stress from visiting 4 families within 2 days and crashed from all of the busyness. I have decided to do something different this year. Instead of giving my material Christmas wish list, so I’ve asked them to help me to give. I have asked my family to buy something from different organizations to help them like a bracelet from Sasa Designs made by Deaf women (in Africa), a purse from Joyn India, and/or help me to give sponsor to a Deaf girl in Honduras. I have finally found the joy of Christmas in giving and helping instead of wanting and buying thing we do not need. It is liberating and fulfilling that it made me long to do more to give and helping.

    • Four families in two days?? Wow. That would stress anyone out. I do think you’ve nailed it though–being the gift is the way to go!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Consumerism, Christmas & #FairTuesday :: Amy J. Bennett And it’s not just chocolate. It’s our coffee, our clothes, our shoes, our purses—so many things. And y’all, it makes my heart so, so much. My purchases are hurting God’s people. I don’t care if I never look them in the face or know a name. My purchases matter. We hold so much power in our hands as consumers and what is our power doing? Making slaves of others. There is no other way to say it. It’s not being dramatic. It’s not guilt-tripping anyone. That is the truth. [...]

  2. [...] that our budget was out of control already because of Christmas and on the heels of posting about Fair Trade Tuesday, I wasn’t comfortable with the thought of buying anything from there, unsure of what we would be [...]

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