Valentine’s Day is right around the corner! And while the focus of the holiday is love, it comes with a side of consumerism. Did you know that the average consumer spends $116.21 on Valentine’s Day? That’s over $13 billion each year. Don’t get us wrong: Consumers keep companies in business, and companies can do a lot of good. But as a consumer, it's up to you to make purchasing decisions that have a positive impact.
Here’s what you need to know to ensure you’re shopping consciously:
Whenever you’re making a purchase, look to buy fair trade. Fair trade goods are those produced by workers who have been fairly compensated according to wage standards within their local context. The fair trade movement is focused on bringing goods from developing countries to developed countries, and supporting those companies that compensate their employees at locally competitive rates. In some contexts, fair trade also means ensuring safe working conditions and helping to provide sustainable livelihoods for communities.
Here are the best ways to ensure that you’re purchasing fair trade products:
- Consult the Fair Trade Federation’s guide of fair trade stores or Support Fair Trade’s directory
- Shop small business and ask local retailers for production details
- Check out GreaterGood.org’s Gifts That Give More for gifts that benefit specific causes
- Ensure that goods you’re purchasing weren’t made with slave labor with the Slavery Footprint survey or the Free2Work app
Need some ideas to get started?
For some Valentine’s Day gift givers, jewelry is top-of-mind – especially diamonds. If you plan to go that route this year, it’s so important to choose a conflict-free rock. According to Amnesty International, conflict-free diamonds are those that were not sold to fund armed conflict and civil war. Diamond-fueled conflict is devastating; one of the most well-known diamond wars in history was the Sierra Leone Civil War, in which nearly 10,000 children were forced to serve as child soldiers. But you can take it a step further by seeking out diamonds that are deemed “beyond conflict-free.” “Beyond conflict-free” diamonds are those that have been mined without the involvement of violence at all, regardless of whether that violence was associated with a civil war. Be aware of this classification for other gemstones and precious metals as well.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
As you may know by now, we’re big fans of social enterprise and the concept of doing well by doing good. The social enterprise model allows those who want to have a positive social impact to do so sustainably, while making a profit. Some of our favorite social enterprises are retail-focused, selling a product created by, or in benefit of, a third party in need of support.
Often, a portion of the proceeds from each purchase or a similar product goes back to the third party. So no matter what kind of gift you’re looking for, you can also support someone in need.
Here are a few ideas:
For more ideas, check out our 2014 Holiday Gift Guide!
Whether for Valentine’s Day, or any other day, it doesn’t take a lot to ensure that your purchases are having a positive impact on the world. Just take a few extra steps, and feel good about the gifts that you give.