Thursday, October 21, 2010

10 Things Thursday: 10 Places to Buy Things

The Story Behind 10 Things Thursdays
For most of us there will be some level of gift shopping to do in the coming weeks. On each of the next 10 Thursdays, up until the day before Christmas Eve, it is my goal to present 10 ideas, in 10 different themes, for eco-friendly gifting. Many suggestions will be places I know or products I've purchased or received. One hundred ideas by no means makes a comprehensive list. But it's a start. Suggestions for future lists are most welcome.

10 Places to Buy Things

1. 10,000 Villages With 72 retail outlets across the US, 10,000 Villages is an exceptional source for unique handmade gifts—jewelry, home decor, art and sculpture, textiles, serveware and personal accessories representing the diverse cultures of artisans in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. One of the world's largest fair trade organizations and a founding member of the World Fair Trade Organization, the company strives to improve the livelihood of tens of thousands of artisans in 38 countries by establishing a sustainable market for handmade products, and building long term buying relationships in places where skilled artisan partners lack opportunities for stable income. Product sales help pay for food, education, healthcare and housing for artisans who would otherwise be unemployed or underemployed. There is a store locator on the site. You can also shop online.

2..American Apparel is a vertically integrated (all parts of the supply chain share a common owner) manufacturer, distributor and retailer, based in downtown Los Angeles, California. It employs approximately 10,000 people globally (about 5,000 in LA), and operates more than 285 retail stores in 20 countries. Knitting, dyeing, cutting, sewing, photography, marketing, distribution and design all happen in the company's facilities in Los Angeles. The company operates the largest garment factory in the United States. There is a store locator on the site. You can also shop online.

3. IKEA offers a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at low prices (many of which require assembly). The company website states “The IKEA vision is to create a better everyday life for the many people. This includes doing what we can to help create a world where we take better care of the environment, the earth’s resources, and each other. We know this continuous improvement is a never-ending job, and that we are sometimes part of the problem. But we work hard to be part of the solution.” You can read on the website about the company's many initiatives from cutting down on packaging to its long-term commitments in countries where IKEA products are manufactured. There is a store locator on the site. 

4. Your local independent bookseller or other independent merchant. Statistics show that if you spend $100 at a local store, $68 stays in your community. If you spend the same $100 at a national chain, your community only sees $43. And buying local means less packaging, less transportation, and a smaller carbon footprint. In New Haven some of my favorite indie shops include Atticus Bookstore CafĂ©, Devil's Gear Bike Shop, The Foundry Music Company, Group W Bench, Katahdin Furniture, Knit New Haven, and The Fat Robin (just up the road in Hamden).


5. NOVICA In association with National Geographic, NOVICA creates a bridge between artists and artisans around the world and the online community who wishes to purchase their products. On the website you can read about the artists and how NOVICA has transformed their lives. I have a wish list with one item on it, this poncho from Peru. 

6. Etsy Founded in 2005, Etsy is an “online marketplace” to buy and sell things handmade, supplies, and vintage items. Etsy's mission is “to enable people to make a living making things, and to reconnect makers with buyers.” Its vision is “to build a new economy and present a better choice.” Its tagline is “Buy, Sell, and Live Handmade.” Buyers and sellers come from 150 countries, and Etsy sellers currently number in the hundreds of thousands. Sellers pay .20 to list an item for 4 months, and a transaction fee of 3.5% on each sale.

7. Uncommon Goods A founding member of B Corporation, an organization created to help customers understand the social and environmental impact of their purchases, Uncommon Goods is an online marketplace offering creatively designed, high-quality merchandise at affordable prices. It bills itself as as a place to “find anything but ordinary.” The B seal means that a company has met the standards outlined in a comprehensive screening questionnaire, which evaluates a company on issues ranging from providing a living wage, to lessening their impact on the environment, to giving back to the community.

8. Equal Exchange An online store for fairly traded coffee, chocolate, and snacks.

9. UNICEF is a global humanitarian relief organization providing children with health careclean waternutritioneducationemergency relief and more. The proceeds from the sale of greeting cards and gifts in this online store support UNICEF's work in over 150 countries.

10. Stores supporting a museum or a cause. Some of my favorites include PBS, California Academy of Sciences, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and MOMA.

11. Look for an alternative gift fair near you, or organize your own for next year.

1 comment:

  1. These are great suggestions especially as the holidays approach. Thanks for all you do for us, Elaine!