This year, I am trying to remember: I support what I pay for. Holiday shopping doesn’t have to feel like all your hard-earned money is only benefitting the top one percent in America.
This time of year is often a scramble, as people aren’t getting their goods until the last minute. If you are someone who meticulously plans their shopping months in advance and then spends this time of year watching the rest of us undergo chaos, I envy you, and I also salute you. Well done.
But, for the rest of us, after an especially exhausting, consumerist Pride month, I am trying to remind myself that intentionality has to be something I hold myself accountable for. By being more conscious of where we spend our money this season, we can reaffirm our power in supporting companies making an impact—rather than companies just making a profit.
Sure, we can all opt to hand-make gifts or decide to just show up and be present with our friends and loved ones, which is debatably the best gift of all.
But, sometimes, nothing can get us into that holiday spirit like gift-giving. We have nearly made it through the last four years of our current presidency—I’m just saying, there’s a lot to celebrate this year. Even if it’s the potential end of a very, very real nightmare.
As we quickly approach the weeks where gift-giving reaches its peak, let’s try our best to prevent companies from funding their problematic agendas and consequently profiting off our poor souls. I know; I know; when did letting people know we care become so complicated? But, being socially responsible is worth it. I promise.
In doing some research behind the brands and stores we love, we can start to traverse this capitalist minefield. Who’s really donating to organizations in need? Where are goods being sourced from? And, are those in charge accepting of all individuals?
I’m talking: pro-gay, pro-queer, pro-trans, pro-indigenous, pro-black, pro-elderly, pro-disabled, pro-choice.
There’s no gray area when it comes to business mission statements. Either they are in support of marginalized communities, or they’re choosing to not take a stand on this topic, which speaks for itself. Buying from brands and businesses who care about their customers cannot be the last thing we consider as we rush to buy our friends and loved ones’ gifts.
Of course, this is overwhelming. How can we possibly oversee the vast multitude of companies whom we give our hard-earned money to everyday? It’s a huge task, and at the end of the day, we cannot reprimand ourselves too harshly.
I am trying to be a responsible consumer. But, I am also trying not to be too hard on myself for not attending to every problem, all the time. When I get caught up in every single way I may contribute to problematic businesses—from talking on the phone to the toothpaste I use each night—I begin to melt under the realization that this problem is too big.
But, the issue gets smaller when each one of us can reorient our approach to buying even the smallest things, like holiday gifts. It’s November, and stores have already lined their shelves with Thanksgiving and Christmas items. We all become witness to this every year. It’s not just the season of giving—it’s the season of buying.
So, if we’re all buying gifts anyway, why not strive to understand what businesses are making ethical decisions with their profits this year?
Obviously, socially conscious goods tend to cost more, and often, this feels like we are placed in a double-bind: either we pay rent and buy goods that may be problematic, or we don’t pay rent and we buy those damn overpriced mittens.
However, this year, I am striving to remember that even if I buy the smallest gift from an ethically sourced company (that allows me to still pay my bills and get groceries), then I am making a small impact.
No matter how inconsequential our influence may seem, we should all wake up after New Year’s feeling like we: a) refused to give money to an anti-LGBTQ company b) made the people in our lives know how thankful we are for them, and c) we supported the businesses who support us in return.