The Case for Ethical Holidays

I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that is almost Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving! Seriously, where did this year go?

Despite the fact that this year has sped by, these last two months of the year are my favorite with a capital F. I really, truly love everything about them! So I will probably be the last person jumping onto a soapbox (not much of a soapbox person in the first place) and yelling hatred towards the whole mass produced, shop-like-crazy Christmas deal because honestly, I love this season – flaws and all. I love giving gifts. Getting gifts. Finding gifts. I like how celebratory and special everything feels, even the grocery store. I love the decorations and lights and warm drinks and the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade and Christmas trees. Yes, the commercial overbuying aspect of Christmas gets on my nerves occasionally but there is so much more to the holidays than that. I can easily tune it all out with cookies and Michael Buble and candles and Peanuts characters getting their dance on!

My challenge this season is blending my convictions on buying ethically and fairly with my love for gift giving and all things holiday. I’ve talked before about using our excess for good and since Thanksgiving and Christmas are the epitome of excess I think this is a great place to start!

The last thing I want is for my eagerness to celebrate and give to be the thing that causes another person to stay in poverty, you know? That bugs me. Our pleasure in exchange for someone else’s struggle should never feel right.


Over the next few weeks I will be sharing ways to celebrate, give and decorate without supporting the slavery and unethical labor that is behind so much of what we’ll snatch off the shelves this month. I think it’s completely possible to blend both the gift giving AND the protection of life for others around the world. What we do and what we buy matters. It’s that simple.

My question for you is this: what do you think your biggest struggle will be this season when it comes to shopping ethically and fairly? Mine will probably be the temptation to impulse buy all that super cute stuff they put out for stocking stuffers and such – the things I didn’t even want until a minute ago!

My Favorite Ways to Shop Ethically


We have snow you guys!  After our unusually warm fall, winter came out of nowhere and is currently dumping six inches and counting of glorious snow!  I am officially in the Christmas mood.  It can’t be stopped.  Sipping coffee, listening to my Pandora Christmas music station, lighting candles…sigh…this time of year is the best.

Anyway, I digress.  The real point of this post is not snow or the holidays, it’s about ethical shopping options.  I’ve talked a lot about fair trade but that is not the only way to shop ethically.  And honestly, it’s not my first option, due to our small budget.  Fair trade products are more of special purchase or splurge items for me, things I buy to round out whatever I already own.  Wanna know how I shop ethically most of the time? Of course you do!

If you need a refresher as to why shopping ethically is a good idea in the first place, check out this post.

Option #1: Buy Secondhand & Gently Used Items

Buying things secondhand is what I do most often.  Thrift stores, consignment shops, yard sales, vintage boutiques, Craigslist, clothing swaps, used book stores, online “thrift” stores like Thred Up or Twice…there are a million different ways to buy used and second hand items.  This is my go to method of ethical shopping for a number of reasons.  One, it’s something I can easily do because it’s affordable and more importantly, by purchasing gently used items we are doing a lot of good.  We are avoiding the unethical labor that can be tied to new products and we are helping the environment, as new items take a lot of resources to manufacture and cause a significant amount of pollution. (source/source)  To top it all off, if you choose to shop at local thrift stores many of them exist to care for the community so you are supporting excellent outreaches in your own city!

Option #2: Remake & Reuse It

So maybe this is an anti-shopping option? A long time ago I read this quote in a book about Parisan fashion:  “If she loves it, she won’t toss it.  She reuses, rethinks it, lets it age.”  I LOVE this.  I’m learning to fix the broken stuff, mend the tears and “shop” my home for things to reuse instead of immediately hoping down to Target.  Pretty sheets I love but can’t use have become curtains.  My daughter’s hole-y leggings turn into shorts for under her skirts.  Things like that.


Living in the culture we do, it’s easy to believe we need new things all the time.  As soon as we don’t like something or it breaks or gets a hole, it’s time to move on and buy something new.

For me, part of ethical shopping is learning to embrace what I have and make it work.  The value in this is that we aren’t contributing to the overwhelming amount of consumption that is becoming the trademark of our generation.  We are being content with the things we own instead of constantly buying more and “upgrading”.  The sweatshops around the world exist in part because our culture demands more stuff.  When we go along with this and buy just because we can, we are part of the problem.  Does that make sense?

So, when I need things – new clothes or curtains for the house or something similar, I first decide if I really need to purchase it new.  Can I re-purpose something I already own?  Could I buy what I need secondhand?  If neither of those options work, then I look at Fair Trade/ethical or conventional options. 

This might sound like a drawn out process and just a bunch of over thinking crap – which I suppose it could be if you let it – but in reality, it just takes me a few minutes to run through my options and come up with a solution.  I try not to think too hard and get caught up in making sure I make the absolute perfect decision.  Because sometimes I won’t and that is okay.  Sometimes I try using what I have or DIY’ing it and I fail miserably.  It’s life, right?

What are some of your favorite ways to shop ethically?  Let’s hear them!

Ethical Shopping: A Practical Approach (A Guest Post)

Last week I was I was honored to write a guest post for Andrea of Intentional Jane!  I shared my approach to ethical shopping and a little bit about my struggle with burnout.  Here is just an excerpt, click over to her blog to read the rest!

About 18 months ago I started learning more about fair trade and ethical sourcing concepts and it was love at first sight. Make a difference with my purchases? Support fair wages and a better life for someone else just by choosing a different product? Yes please! I was all in. But if you’ve ever tried to make a huge lifestyle change you know how easy it can be to get overwhelmed.

After a few months the project that was once so exciting loses its luster and you are back to where you started. This was me. I bit off more than I could chew and quickly got in over my head. If I buy this product ethically then maybe I should buy this other thing ethically too. What about my toilet paper or paper clips or scrub brushes? If I don’t buy every single thing ethically should I even buy anything ethically at all? Where does it end?!

Nothing like getting overwhelmed to make you feel like quitting all together! This over-achieving fail taught me an important lesson…

…but you’ll have to visit Intentional Jane to read the rest!


Half Marathon #3: Rush Creek Stampede


Saturday I got up at 5:20 (FIVE TWENTY!!) for a two hour drive into the mountains for half marathon number three, Rush Creek Stampede.  Which, let’s be honest, was more of a plod then stampede! But you know, whatever.

Plodding aside, this race was my jam.  I had my doubts going into it but I shouldn’t have worried.  It was exactly the kind of race I like.  The City of Trees half marathon was noisy, crowded and stressful for me, the girl who prefers running solo down sleepy, quiet streets over crowds, traffic and group running.  This one was the exact opposite and so, so good.

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Rush Creek Stampede started off foggy and chilly, everything has this misty eery feel to it, but as we got to higher elevations the fog started to melt away and it was absolutely gorgeous.  Oh my goodness.

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These views fed my soul.  Last week was full and busy and a little overwhelming but getting to step away and run down wide open back country roads was so life giving.  I’ve been reading about the importance of self care and this was it.  Everything smelled good, like damp leaves and fireplace smoke and woods.  And it was quiet.  Dead quiet.  I felt like I could breathe deep again.

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If you are just tuning in and have no idea why I am describing a race, well, here ya go:  I am on a team of over 150 other people who are running four half marathons in 30 days to raise support for a group of orphanages in India.  These “Homes of Hope” specifically care for kids affected by HIV/AIDS, giving them a safe place to live and thrive but and also an honorable place to die, if they are too sick.  Every dollar we raise goes directly to these orphanages to fund things like medical care, education, meals and more.

We have one more race to go.  ONE MORE!  So basically, if you want to help support these orphanages, here is your chance!  Simply click here, make a donation (even if it’s only five bucks!) and as a huge THANK YOU you can chose one of these prints for your own.  Just send me a note to let me know you contributed and tell me which print you would like then I will send a PDF file of that print your way!

Thanks so much for following along with me!  If you are tired of hearing me yak about running, no worries it’s almost over. :)

Day 23 // Tomorrow Is A New Day

This is the final post of the 31 Thoughts on Running Your Race.  Oh, it’s only October 23  you say?  Yes, it’s true.  However, the next few weeks are full to the very brim with other projects and obligations in my life outside this blog and more than anything I want to give my energy to those important things.
I’m wrapping up this series with one of my favorite quotes by the great Ralph Waldo Emerson.  It’s quirky humor gentle reminder to not take things to seriously.  Every day is a fresh start.  But the past behind you and focus on what is in front of you.


A to the men, right?
Enjoy your weekend, you guys!

Day 21 // Excess



This post is part of a 31 day series, Thoughts on Running Your Race.  You can find all the posts in the series here.


Plenty.  More than enough.  Above and beyond the necessary.

My husband and I are not rich by any stretch of the imagination. But take a quick glance around our home and you know we have enough.  We have the essentials and then some.

Some days I wonder how I got so lucky to be allowed all this goodness.  I am so privileged and I did nothing to earn it.  I could have just as easily been born into poverty and grown up among the millions of people who lack the daily essentials like clean water or food or a job.

But I wasn’t.  I was born into excess.   If you are reading this you probably are in a similar place.  We live in the reality of having more than we need.  And with that privilege I believe comes some responsibility.  I love that quote from Gandhi: live simply so that others may simply live.  What if we chose gratefulness and lived in a way that brought life to others? Instead of spending to add to our excess, what if we gave more away?  There are so many ways to do this and that is another post for another day but today just think on this:

You have enough. Scratch that, you have MORE than enough. What are you going to do about it?

Reads & Recommends

Happy weekend, y’all!  Here are a few of my favorite things from around the internet this week:

I really enjoyed this podcast of the Jess Lively show.  She interviews Caroline of Un-Fancy and they talk all about building a capsule wardrobe and building a life that is focused on enough and being enough.

Andrea at Intentional Jane has a great new series about How to Evaluate Retailers & Shop Responsibly.

So random but Fall is hands down my favorite season.  And this is my new favorite poem.

Did you know it’s Fair Trade month?  Yup!  To celebrate, Mata Traders is giving away something from their collection to a lucky winner every week this month.  Find out all the details here.

Focus // Day 17


This post is part of the series, 31 Thoughts on Running Your Race.  Find all the posts in the series here.  

When I first started running I read several books about running and talked to a few friends who had ran races before because I was a complete newb.  One thing I heard several times was that running well has a lot to do with your mental attitude and staying focused.

Last Sunday was a perfect example of this.  Though I knew what my body could do and where I should be pacing myself,  it was hard seeing runners pass me, one after another. They got farther ahead, almost out of sight.  And then  they would disappear around the corner or over the hill.  All of a sudden would be just me.  All by myself and way behind everyone else.  It was discouraging and was enough to knock me out of my concentration.

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Our real life race is like that too, or at least it is for me.  It’s so easy to get distracted by what everyone else is doing that I forget to concentrate on what I am suppose to be doing.  Do you know the feeling?  I’m learning to practice focus in my running and focus in my life.  I can’t do everything that everyone else is doing.  I can only do what is in front of me to do and I need to do that well.  I have to forget the crowd.  Forget who is ahead of me, doing things better than me.  Just do what needs to be done as only I can do it.

This.  This is important.

Take A Breath // Day 16


This post is part of the series 31 Thoughts on Running Your Race.  Find all the posts in this series here.

Well, this blog series is about real life and here’s some real life: the beginning of this week was rough.  A lot.  I was stressed and overwhelmed over so many things, particularly this series.  I am most comfortable writing instructional, factual type posts so this series has been a bit of a challenge and quite frankly, been shaking my self confidence.  I don’t know how I want to say things or what I should share or even how I am coming across to you guys.  I was so frustrated I started toying with the idea of quitting it all.   Quit the series.  Quit the blog.  Just be done with everything.  I was over so many things I couldn’t think straight anymore.

Then yesterday came in its wild, blustery fall-ish self.  I spent some time with a new friend and though getting together with someone new is scary for me, I rarely regret it.  It filled my soul.  And then this weather.  It was gorgeous, unruly weather – my very favorite kind.  Exactly like that Humbert Wolfe poem: “Listen!  The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves, we have had our summer evenings, now for October eves!”

Both these parts of Wednesday refreshed me.  I felt better because of them.  They fed my weary soul.  That time with a friend and a simple outdoor walk were enough to straighten out my perspective.  I could breathe again.  The world righted itself.

Sometimes you just need a break. A little encouragement. Some head straightening.  When it’s all feeling a little crazy the best thing you can do is just step back, take a breath and do something that gives you life again, whatever that may be.

I’m curious, how to you deal with stress and frustration?  What is your favorite way to take a break?