I have two big struggles as a blogger: coming to terms with promoting ethically made goods while also endorsing contentment and minimalism, and accepting payment for posts that I share on this platform. Today I want to talk about both, especially as they relate to the holiday season, and get your thoughts, as Life+Style+Justice readers.
I definitely promote lots of ethical products here on Life+Style+Justice, but my hope is that I'm doing it in a practical way. That's why I started organizing my "ethical shopping list" in a needs-based way (I don't want you to randomly shop for things that you don't need because you're in the mood.... I want to be a resource for you when you need a specific item, like ethically made jeans or black heels or baby bibs). When I post about different brands, I don't expect or encourage you to become a customer of each one, I want you to sort through all my posts, find the products that fit your own style or needs, and then consider supporting that specific company rather than running to Target or Amazon. In addition, (though I haven't done a great job with this lately!), I try to temper my "shopping/review" posts with lots of personal and practical essays and glimpses into my own life and journey with conscious living so that this doesn't feel like a space where you, dear reader, are constantly "sold" to.
The posts that ethical companies sponsor (pay for, with real money!) here on Life+Style+Justice are always carefully considered. For every post that I accept, I turn down an average of eight to ten others. If I receive a product, try it out, and feel that it isn't good quality or a fair price, I send it back without posting about it. I work with many "repeat" brands- rather than constantly bringing in a long string. My press kit is available for anyone to see, and I plan to start publishing a monthly "income report" to disclose to readers whether my blog made any profit in a given month, and if so, how much and from where. I accept paid posts here are Life+Style+Justice because I want people who do work for me to receive fair wages (I pay several kick-ass female business owners for the photography work that you'll often see here on the blog), and because I want to be compensated fairly for my creative work here, in this space. Accepting sponsored posts is something that I'm super open about and proud of- how amazing is it that I can build relationships with companies I love, and that I have something of value to offer them? I love that we can be mutually supportive of each others' efforts to make the world a more fair and ethical place for artisans, makers, and laborers.
With all of that being said: I will never be an ethical blogger who only works for companies that can pay, or who only shares links that are affiliate links. My first and foremost aim at Life+Style+Justice is not to make money, but to offer resources for conscious living to a broad and diverse audience. I routinely do pro-bono work for non-profits and smaller brands that can't afford a sponsored post fee, and I'll keep things that way.
Okay. So now that that's off my chest, on to Christmas.
I really thought long and hard about staying silent this Christmas, about not posting any gift guides or shopping-themed posts at all. Most of my extended family are just donating to causes in each others' names this year, and Andrew and I plan on gifting each other with "experiences"/quality time spent doing something fun over the holiday season. However, even though this is an approach that I highly recommend, I realize that not everyone can convince their entire family to put the kibosh on gift giving.
Many families have meaningful and joyful traditions surrounding gifts. Maybe it's the annual rambunctious gift exchange with the extended family. Perhaps your kids always exchange gifts with their cousins. Opting out of family traditions in order to cut down on Christmas consumption might be the right choice for you, but it also might not be!
Where opting out of gift giving traditions might cause family members to feel hurt or judged, participating, but offering fair trade/ethically made gifts can be a great way to start a conversation with your loved ones about why it matters to you where and how things are made.
So, starting today (with an amazing post that's coming soon about the "most ethical knit hats ever"), and continuing through early December, I'll be sharing gift ideas, coupons and savings, and a few style posts from ethical brands that I love. Tomorrow, you'll find gift guides for all the categories I deemed most difficult within ethical gift giving: gifts for your guy, gifts for your gal, ethical gifts for teenagers (yikes!), gifts for kids, and gifts for those ridiculously hard-to-shop for people (like, what do I get my mother-in-law? Or what can I get for my kids' teachers that's nice and doesn't look cheap but won't break the bank?).
When putting together this years' gift guides, I took the following approach:
1. Rather than sharing sponsored items from companies that I've never tried out or had a conversation with because they offered to pay me, I opted to reach out to companies that I already know and trust and have worked with before to ask if they'd like to collaborate on this years' gift guides. The products that I'm sharing are mostly from companies that make products I personally own, or from companies where I have developed a personal friendship with the owner.
2. I didn't put together an impractical list of $500 silk dresses and $300 eco beauty kits. All items on the lists are around $100 or less, with the majority of each list composed of items that are $50 or below. I'm also including an entire gift guide just for "practical" gifts- like ethical toothbrushes and sheets and underwear. Stuff everyone needs/uses.
3. I'll include both items that are sponsored/affiliate linked, and items that aren't, in order to keep things partial (just like I do with my shopping list).
Whew! I think that's it! Thoughts? Feelings? Concerns? If you want to weigh in, I'd love to hear from you. <3