A Conscious Holiday Guide

As the holiday season draws near, it offers us an opportunity to reflect upon the things that truly matter. The darkness of the season allows us to appreciate the glow of candles, the coziness of home, and the warmth of family and community. 

No matter which holiday[s] you celebrate, festivities are likely centered around food and gifts. A lot of time, energy and funds get poured into presents and meals, and every single thing you purchase has a vast potential to do good. Your purchase power is truly exponential ... with every conscious decision about your spending, you can make a huge impact on individuals and communities. 

Whether it matters most to you to support local makers, sustainable farming, economic development in developing nations, or organizations within your community, with each purchase you can support the kind of world you want to see. 

If you are reading this you probably already are aware of this concept, which is a great place to start. We wanted to help make it easy to make ethical decisions with fresh ideas on how you celebrate and gift this season. 

1. Donate  

You know that person who seems to have everything, which makes it hard to shop for them? Simplify their life (and yours!) by offering a donation to an organization that supports a cause they care about. 

2. Ethical Alternatives to "Black Friday"

At Manos Zapotecas we care a lot about sustainable economic development that supports producers in developing nations. From Mexico to Kenya, there are delicious food products and unique handmade goods suitable for everyone on your list. This season we will be promoting other amazing fair trade brands through the use of the hashtag #FairistheNewBlack in an attempt to transform "Black Friday" into a source for good. 

Spend wisely this winter by supporting local artisans and makers and connect with your community while you do so. Consider shopping with brands that are give back a percentage of their profits to a cause.  

3. Use Technology as a Tool for Good 

There are tons of smart phone apps popping up, which make it easier than ever to know what ingredients your products contain, and who is truly behind the brand. Here are a few we have checked out and love: 

Buycott lets you select which causes you personally care about, then it makes it convenient for you to support them by voting with your wallet. A built-in scanner reveals important info in your food products, such as whether they contain GMO's or are produced by a corporation that is in conflict with your beliefs. 

Good Guide compiles information on personal care products, rating them by color and number on their degree of concern. They also have a bar code scanner, so you can assess the ethical rating of a product at a glance. 

Instead challenges you to make micro-donations to causes you care about instead of spending that $5 on say, a latte, every morning. Opt to brew a cup at home? Log in to donate a few bucks and know that small action has helped to make a big impact.

4. Consider How You Cook

With all the delicious meals ahead, it's a great time to stop consider how you grocery shop. Where do you shop and can you get behind the values of the corporations? What brands do you support and who owns those brands? Through research, the ease of apps, and opting for organic and/or local producers you can ensure you are putting your dollar toward companies that treat the earth, animals and humans with care. 

5. Volunteer 

This season, get together with friends and family to give your collective energy to a cause you care about. You'll make a huge difference in someone's holiday and leave you feeling great. Whether contributing your time to help an elderly neighbor rake their leaves or serving food at a homeless shelter, few things have the power to move us as making a positive impact on another's life. 

And that is the greatest gift of all. 

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