29 January 2011

Shopping, or Not, for Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is coming around again, and with it, the decision: buy your sweetheart a bunch of stuff?

Well, if you're going to buy chocolate, get it with a Fair Trade label. (What's "Fair Trade"? It means that manufacturers and retailers make sure producers of coffee and chocolate, as well as other goods, get a fair price for the crop, rather than allowing middlemen to set exploitative prices. Check out the Fair Trade Federation or Fair Trade USA for more information.)

If you want to buy jewelry, consider seeking out conflict-free gold and gemstones. Eh? Well, it turns out that so-called "blood diamonds" are mined and sold to pay for weapons in countries riven by civil war. National Geographic has more, here.) Some sources of conflict-free jewelry: Brilliant Earth; Manufactured stones from Diamond Nexus Labs; Bario-Neal; Green Karat.

Or forego a gift altogether, and give to a charity you or your loved one (and hopefully both) support.