Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Shopping for Holiday Gifts

photo: Flickr Skagit IMS

Wondering what to get friends and family for the holidays?

Steer clear of the mall ... in the United States more than 70% of holiday gifts end up in the landfill within 6 months. Much of those are plastic toys that will remain on this Earth for hundreds of generations.

You might want to skip the jewelry, too. The production of one gold ring creates 20 tons of mining waste and requires the use of enormous quantities of poisonous chemicals like cyanide, which separates the gold from the stone. These chemicals poison waterways.

Additionally there are a lot of labor issues involved in jewelry mining. I got up close to this issue when I attended the opening of the brand new Brower Center in Berkeley, CA this year, and saw an exhibit of photography by Sebastião Salgado in the lobby of the new building.

photo: Brazilian mine, 1986 by Sebastião Salgado

You can view more of his photos here. (And if you are going to buy jewelry then check this out.)

So what to do about your holiday shopping? Check out this list - 11 Holiday Gift Programs that Benefit Nonprofits and Make the World A Better Place - from DIOSA Communications.

Make sure to check out the "comments" section that follows the list of 11 gift suggestions. There are a lot of great suggestions from readers, like this nonprofit Vittana. I can't wait to read more about Vittana later today.

In addition to Vittana's approach to micofinancing, you might have seen some other appeals, too, like this one - I received this giving video yesterday, in an email from the Acumen Fund. I really like the idea of giving gifts like this one - learned a lot about it at this August 2009 panel discussion hosted by San Francisco's Chapter of Net Impact.

This is completely unrelated, but I liked the Acumen Fund video because it reminded me of this great fundraising video produced by students at my undergrad alma mater, Lehigh University.

Finally, when determining what you're going to purchase, please check out this thorough new resource, GoodGuide, recently written up in the New York Times. It's on the web and also available as an iPhone application.

Happy Holidays!

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