What do I want for Christmas? An end to hunger and injustice and indignity, and while you're out, peace on earth and good will toward all.
Thanks to the Hunger Site, it's occured to me that you can buy me some of that and some nifty playthings at the same time. The Hunger Site works by donating food (a little more than a cup of rice or wheat) to charity, for every day you look at their ads. They've been my homepage for a long time now, so I've seen a lot of their ads, and I want some of this stuff. For each of these items that you buy, you donate another fifty cups or so of food, and help keep the Hunger Site in business as well.
So you get that good feeling, along with the neat stuff, like recycled silk scarves, gloves, shoulder bags, and throw rugs. Or wooden Jacaranda hand-turned bowls, salad sets, and birch bark boxs (I like the oval one).
Those links just go to pictures. I can't figure out how to link directly to the catalog descriptions, so you'll just have to go to the store and search, I guess.
I'd rather have practical stuff than decorative stuff (I'm looking forward to a tiny but empty apartment in not so many months...) The Hunger Site is, unfortunately, a little short of that. As are Oxfam and Ten Thousand Villages even though I like their stuff as well, and they too offer the "good deed with every purchase" deal. (They also don't seem to have online catalogs, so you have to find a physical store.) But I figure someone must be selling dishes and blankets, so I searched a little and found that the Fair Trade Federation has a whole list of fair trade importers with online catalogs. (The one that I linked from the word "dishes" up there, "A Greater Gift," has a particularly large selection.)
This way you can get people unique, handmade, practical gifts, and also help people in third world countries support themselves. This is a longer term solution than mere donations. These countries need something they can sell to the west for a fair price, and handicrafts -- time and labor intesive -- could become a major export. Because if there's anything third world countries have, it's a labor force with time on its hands.
Buy this stuff, make a market for it. Most of these people would like nothing better than to earn their own living by working hard, taking pride in their craftsmanship. Start your Christmas shopping now, and make the world a better place.