We're entering a season of giving... which concurrently entails a season of receiving.
How do you navigate the holiday season as a conscious consumer?
What do you do when you receive gifts that don't align with your values?
This topic came up with a dear friend today, and I thought it would be timely to share my thoughts about it on the blog.
I've had a few people give me "unethically produced" clothes over the past year and I always accept with a smile. What good would come from denying them the pleasure of a grateful response on my end? Nothing. They've already purchased the item, the money has been spent, and the best thing for me to do is be thankful for the time and effort they placed into giving me a gift.
At the same time, I want to help educate my friends and family about why ethical purchases are important to me. Here's some practical steps that I've taken in my life to help with this...
1. Talk to friends and family about this BEFORE the holiday season. The last thing I want to do is increase stress for my loved ones by springing my decision on them in the midst of their shopping. An easy and gracious way to bring it up is to say something along the lines of, "I've been learning a lot about how our clothes are made and decided to purchase exclusively from brands that treat people fairly. Let me know if you ever want me to share some of these brands with you, they're pretty awesome!"
2. Make it easy on people by creating a wish-list for them to utilize if they want. I have a Pinterest board that I use as an ongoing wish-list for family and friends. Those close to me know that they can check it anytime to see specific items that I'd love. There's never any obligation, but it's just a source of inspiration if they want to use it. Plus they know that anything I've saved to that board is from a brand I support.
3. Do NOT ask if something was ethically-made when it's presented to you. Even if your intentions are good, you can come across as a real ingrate if you ask for specifics on a gift instead of simply expressing thankfulness. I've found that if someone purchases an ethically-made item for me, they'll usually be excited to tell me about the company. If they don't mention it, I can always look into the brand on my own, but it should not affect my ability to appreciate the gesture.
It's dangerously easy to slip towards legalism when it comes to ethical shopping and miss the entire reason you began this journey.
It's all about valuing people over material, right?
People first. Things second. Always.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!