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Don't Just 'Feel Guilty' About Holiday Shopping. Change Your Habits and Support Your Community

Sustainability Activism
by Amanda Machado Dec 23, 2016

Anne Lappe said “Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.” After an election season that has left many of us wanting to show more support for the world we want, but not always knowing how to do it, holiday shopping can be an easy way to put your money where your politics are. Here’s a few ways to start:

1. Shop at businesses owned by marginalized groups.

Some studies estimate that the average black family would need 228 years to build the wealth of a white family today. For Latino families, it would take 84 years.These wealth gaps reflect long histories of discriminatory policies and ultimately end up making a huge difference in determining which groups of people get ahead in the future.

Remezcla recently published a holiday gift guide for supporting Latinx-owned businesses this year and Autostraddle published a list of lesbian-owned businesses to support around the country. Black Enterprise also published a holiday gift guide for 2016 and Buy Black Economics helps you find black-owned businesses all over the world.

2. Make a fashion statement with your activism.

Instead of simply sending a donation to an organization you support, see if they sell merchandise. That way, you support a cause, get a nice new piece of clothing in the process, and give the organization free advertising every time you wear it out.

Organizations like Planned Parenthood and the ACLU have online marketplaces where you can buy t-shirts and other merchandise, with all the money going directly back to funding the organization’s causes. Plenty of other nonprofits have the same.

You can also create a t-shirt of your own, sell the t-shirt to friends and family, and donate all the proceeds to an organization they cared about. The website makes it easy to create t-shirts for a cause, while also guarenteeing that the shirts themselves don’t violate issues of labor rights and environmentalism. According to their website, all their t-shirts are “American Made, Union Made, and Eco-Friendly. ”

3. Support artists from marginalized groups.

Instead of browsing Etsy aimlessly, check out the many resources online to find Black-owned and Latino-owned Etsy artists. There are also organizations that devote themselves entirely to supporting art by marginalized groups. For example, The Black Art Depot is a “100% minority owned and operated business” that aims to be “the number one supplier of African-American art, gifts, collectibles and African decor in the world.”

4. Buy newspaper and magazine subscriptions that support the causes you believe in.

After the election, subscriptions to newspapers across the country soared. A subscription to a newspaper sends a message of support for free press. But newspapers are not the only ones needing support. Also consider providing friends with subscriptions to magazines that focus specifically on issues of social justice and organizing, like Yes Magazine, or investigative reporting, like Mother Jones.

As we spend hundreds of dollars buying gifts for family and friends this holiday season, let’s remember that our money makes a statement about what we believe in. With a bit of extra research, our holiday shopping can be yet another way to show our support.

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