Last I checked, July is too early for back to school shopping.

I was shopping in Target this weekend and found two shocking occurrences in the store. (And, no, one of the shocking occurrences was not that I left the store with only one item. Let’s be realistic here.)

Summer items were on clearance, and back to school items were taking over a large part of the store.

It’s July. Barely mid-July. In Maine, summer has just begun. We’re just now getting used to regular warm weather and frequent visits to the beach.

Do you know what our winters are like? We endure those winters in order to live in Vacationland during the summer.

The last thing I want to see in July are binders and pencil boxes.

G’s backpack is used to bring swimming gear, sunscreen, a water bottle and lunch to summer camp.

welcome back sign

This photo is from a Wordless Wednesday on 9.5.12. September. Not July.

Is it just me or is this back to school stuff early this year? It’s like seeing a giant blowup Santa in October.

Maybe I need to stay out of the stores for a while. I’m clearly not going to find any of my summer needs there.

Are you even thinking about back to school shopping yet?

Philanthropy Friday: Ethical Shopping

Each Friday, the another jennifer blog shares stories of those who incorporate philanthropy into their everyday lives – personally and professionally – in a creative and unique way. If you have a story you’d like to share, please 
contact Jennifer.

You may remember a past Philanthropy Friday where I featured the fair trade company, Jolica. I’ve kept in touch with Jolica and have been corresponding Ingrid Heinrich Pauls, who handles public and media relations for the Canada-based company.

When you talk with Ingrid, her passion for fair trade is obvious. She shared with me an editorial she recently wrote in response to the way we, as consumers, make our shopping decisions. Certainly, a timely subject to be thinking about. I thought it was worth sharing because I think we need to be more aware of how and where we spend our money.

Following is the editorial, which was also published in the Toronto Sun and Fair Trade Federation.

Reflections: Christmas shopping, garment fire, knock-offs

Just as many of us began our most intense shopping weeks of the year, news broke about a garment factory fire in Bangladesh. One hundred and twelve workers died because they could not escape. A week later we heard that $3 million worth of knock-offs, including toys stuffed with dog fur, were discovered here in Canada. We were collectively appalled and disgusted. How could our retailers buy products made by people working in such poor conditions? How could they try to sell us products that are potentially dangerous?

Will we just wring our hands, say that something should be done, and then continue making our shopping decisions according to price & brand names?

If we make our consumer decisions based on brand names and price, why would retailers spend time and money on work that is anything but as cheap as possible? Why would they prioritize ethical trade practices and hold people in their chain of production accountable?

Every time we make a purchase we are supporting that retailer and its trade practices. Our outrage alone will not inspire change. Only our consumer decisions have that power.

Fair Trade and Ethical Trade are ineffective if they are only supported in theory – they need sales.

It is possible, even easy, to find great products that were produced ethically. Fair Trade jewelry and personal accessories, clothing, home furnishings, flowers, sports balls, coffee, and food products can be found on-line, at home sales, community events, and in shops across the country.

Christmas really can be about spreading peace on earth and goodwill toward mankind. 

Ingrid Heinrichs Pauls

December 6, 2012

IngridIngrid joined the Jolica team in 2012, working  in public and media relations, and continuing her long history of advocating for Fair Trade. 

For many years while raising her children and working as a maternity nurse, Ingrid volunteered for a large, non profit, Fair Trade organization. In 2000 she left her nursing career to manage Ten Thousand Villages stores in NJ and Ontario, and eventually took on the role of Education and Media Coordinator. 

Ingrid lives in Oakville, ON with her husband.  She has 3 children and 4 grandchildren, all of whom live in Ontario. Family, Fair Trade and the family cottage are her passions.

How much thought do you put in to the products you buy? (I know I’ve been thinking more about this topic a lot lately.)

Philanthropy Friday: An App for Social Impact

social impact appEach Friday, the another jennifer blog shares stories of those who incorporate philanthropy into their everyday lives – personally and professionally – in a creative and unique way. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact Jennifer.

When I travel and am looking for a place to eat, I usually take out my iPhone and open Yelp. The app tells me my options, gives me reviews and directs me to the restaurant that fits my needs. I’ve found some great places through Yelp that I would have never found otherwise.

I guess that’s why an article on GOOD caught my eye the other day. It talked about a free mobile app that’s like Yelp for socially-conscious people. Social Impact uses the GPS feature in your mobile devices to display retail social enterprises that are close to you.

The app was developed by Rolfe Larson Associates and includes close to 700 businesses.

Much like Yelp, you can search social enterprises in various categories, and the app will show you on a map where those businesses are located. Social Impact allows you to search restaurants, catering, coffee & tea, arts & crafts and more. You can even shop online if you don’t find any social impact near you. You can also suggest a social enterprise business to be included in the app.

I love this concept because I’ve become much more aware of the impact I can make in my community and beyond by paying attention to what I buy and from whom I buy. It’s becoming easier and easier to make socially-minded purchase decisions and, frankly, we need to think more about what we are consuming.

My only complaint? There aren’t any social enterprises within 40 miles of my house. I might need to change this.

Download the Social Impact app and tell me what you think

Philanthropy Friday: Shopping for a Cause

Each Friday, the another jennifer blog shares stories of those who incorporate philanthropy into their everyday lives – personally and professionally – in a creative and unique way. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact Jennifer.

BiddingForGood is a charitable e-commerce company that connects fundraisers, cause-conscious shoppers, and socially responsible businesses. They do this by offering a platform to nonprofits and schools for running an online auction.

Anyone can shop on BiddingForGood’s auctions – it’s kinda like eBay – but when you shop on the website, you know that the proceeds of the auction will go to a good cause.

BiddingForGood calls what they do Charitable Commerce™. They are a small company that is committed to helping nonprofits raise money. The staff also volunteers to help organizations on their own time.

I worked with BiddingForGood a couple years back when I ran an online fundraising auction for Crossroads. The auction itself was a lot of work, but the platform was great. From a technical perspective, uploading images and descriptions for auction items was simple, and the auction manager made it easy to solicit sponsors, share auction items on social media and email, and track bidders. They also had some pretty good resources to help you run a successful auction.

The website boasts 6,700 customers, and the 330,000+ shoppers in the BiddingForGood bidding community. As I wrote this post their “goodometer” measured over $160,392,000 raised.

The neat thing is that you don’t have to be personally involved with a nonprofit to participate. It’s a great website to visit when you are shopping for just about anything – tickets for a sporting event, a handbag, toys, electronics, you name it. You can find some great deals, and you know you’re helping a good cause.

In the auction I ran, a diplomat from Washington D.C. purchased a leather bag donated by a board member. The person had lost theirs while traveling and was so happy to have found the same type of bag through our auction. And they got to support a great organization at the same time. They couldn’t have been happier.

Next time you’re looking to purchase something, consider browsing the items at BiddingForGood.

If anything, it’s a great excuse to do some online shopping!

Shopping the day after Christmas

shopping cartsI hate shopping. I avoid the mall at all costs and try to stick to local stores or online, if I can help it.

Shopping just stresses me out. I usually just know what I want. If I can’t find it easily, I give up and move on. I don’t shop for the sake of shopping and could care less about coupons and extra discounts. (They are nice, but I suck at utilizing them. And I don’t see the point if I don’t actually need an item.)

For some reason, I thought it might be a good idea to go shopping with my family the day after Christmas.

Did I mention my kids are 6 and 3?

It was crazy. We went to Freeport (Maine) with the thought of visiting LL Bean and seeing the Christmas tree.

I didn’t notice the tree.

I like buying stuff and all, but I hate being around a ton of people while doing it. I’m the type of person that is perfectly fine with paying a few more bucks to avoid hassle. Doing this probably actually saves me some money because I don’t shop for things I don’t need or really want.

I skipped Black Friday. I probably should have skipped the day after Christmas.

We had fun. For the most part. I guess I got some good deals on some Christmas items I will need next year at Target. But I was stressed. And annoyed by all the people around me. They were everywhere, and I couldn’t get anywhere. (My small stature doesn’t help.)

It always amazes me how many people are out shopping right after Christmas. Do they really need more stuff, or are they returning gifts?

The recession didn’t seem to be affecting too many people in Freeport and Topsham the day after Christmas.

How about you? Did you go shopping the day after Christmas? What was your motivation? (Educate me, please, because I don’t get it.)

Photo Credit: Dreamstime