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

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