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!

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