Buy Nothing Day (today!) brought to you by Adbusters.
Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping.
If you must (but not today):
The Heifer Project (addressing hunger and poverty through long-term solutions - donate bees and buffalos!), online or via their beautiful catalog.
MADRE (human rights for women and families). Make sure you have a look at this one.
Ten Thousand Villages (shops --all over the U.S., we have one here in Greensboro-- practicing fair trade, selling objects from local artisan groups).
Or give the produce or products of your local artisans or growers. I have (mostly) stopped importing my coffee from California, where I loved my local bean freaks (Blue Bottle Coffee) and have been purchasing from the excellent Larry's Beans. North Carolina people, that makes a nice present.
So does goat cheese from Goat Lady Dairy. If you're in California, of course, there's Redwood Hill Farm. They export to other states, and I still buy their yogurt at my local food co-op (they export it out of state; the fresh goat cheese, however, doesn't travel) but it's nice to go for sustainable (i.e. mostly local) eating and giving.
Speaking of the food co-op, I have taken to buying gifts there in late December when scrambling for a few little things. They have adorable finger puppets, mostly animals, made by a women's collective in the Andes. Not exactly next door (the Andes, I mean) but it's a fair trade set-up and you would be amazed how many adults just love having an animal finger puppet on their desk, sitting on one of their pens in the pen and pencil holder, ready for a conversation. I give them to children, too, but don't forget the grown-ups. (The photo is not my hand, I trawled the web and found the very puppets of which I speak. I gave one of those rabbits to someone not long ago.)
My favorite olive oil, which has been in the foodie column to the right since I began blogging, is Bariani in California. They make their own balsamic vinegar too.
Another discovery from my California years (the coffee and olive oil people sell at the Berkeley Farmers' Market and other Bay Area farmers' markets, and so do these folks) is Juniper Ridge. Incense, soaps, sachets, and a few edible goodies, all sustainably picked, a.k.a wildcrafted. I am particularly fond of the desert piñon incense (which Padre Pablito does not need since he is right in that territory) but the cedar is wonderful too, if a little intense. The soaps and jellies make nice house gifts. (Pictured here: the soaps.)
If you buy from any of those folks, tell 'em I sent you.
Then of course, there's your favorite cause or organization...
Don't forget your local children, your battered women's shelter, the food bank, your local Catholic Worker house of hospitality, and the still rebuilding Gulf Coast after Katrina.
For you Episco-folk and anyone else interested, there's Episcopal Relief and Development.
Not into churchy organizations? Try the Seva Foundation. [Note: I added this item a few hours after the rest of the post.]
A postscript: Kristin reminds us in the Comments section about Global Exchange. How could I forget? Thanks, Kristin. (They have a vast Fair Trade online store at the website, but for those of you in the Bay Area, there's a Global Exchange store at 2840 College Ave. in Berkeley.)
Even Newsweek has a "Do-Gooder" selection in its holiday gift guide. (Here online but also in the paper version of the magazine.)
I could go on and on but it's Buy Nothing Day! (And I have not a dime left --seriously; I'm down to $2.50, so that's a few dimes, but that's it for the rest of the month!-- after my trip to Europe where the dollar dropped against the Euro and my college only paid the transportation, not the food and lodging. Akh!)
Note: None of the above-mentioned merchants or organizations have asked me or paid me to write about their good work.
Note also: This is meant as a resource to offer some ideas, not as a guilt trip.
I'll post another reminder or resource sometime in December. Ideas and suggestions welcome. We can start a thread in the comments section if people are interested.
Janinsanfran knows of some good projects related to water in Central America.
Bear in mind that systemic change is less glamorous and sexy but more long-lasting than direct service, though both are necessary
Above all, be mindful, be grateful, remember we are all bound together in one web of life.