Tomorrow, Tuesday November 27, 2012, is the first Giving Tuesday. The idea, conceived of and developed by the United Nations (UN), is designed to encourage people to give back to their communities. Throughout the US we all know about Black Friday – to most a big shopping day, but to retailers the first day their books typically show a profit thanks to holiday spending. In recent years, American Express made Small Business Saturday a big deal – which as green bloggers we strongly support! The online retailers and news media have also made Cyber Monday a “thing”. It’s the day when online retailers offer more sales so that everyone returning back to work after Black Friday spends tons of money online on gifts and discounted products.
All these sales and hype have really fed into the consumerism that has enveloped Americans. Green living is not compatible with rampant consumerism, rather, we want people to REDUCE. Use less, buy less, consume less, waste less.
Giving Tuesday actually builds on the momentum of spending money that has been growing over the past week (at least in the US) and asks people to give back. For many, this means spending money, giving charitable donations or buying things for others. However, this can also mean giving of your time and volunteering.
I grew up near New York City and was back there over Thanksgiving Weekend. It has been a month since “Frankenstorm Sandy” but you can see signs of the storm everywhere. I spent Saturday afternoon with friends from high school who live in New York and Connecticut and heard their stories of living without power, water and heat for a week or more. One of my friends lives on Long Island and her children were out of school for two weeks, and many of the schools in their area lost everything and it is not clear if they will ever re-open.
|My dad in front of a tree blocking a street in his neighborhood|
After the storm moved on, people from the Occupy Wall Street realized that they had knowledge and skills that could be put to good use. They knew how to make bicycle-powered generators, cook hot meals for a thousand people at a time, provide quick, temporary shelters and most importantly, they knew how to organize. They went to work, quickly providing generators where they were needed, gathering food to feed people and training volunteers who came pouring in. Quickly, Occupy Sandy was born.
What does that have to do with #GivingTuesday? Occupy Sandy organizers realized that people from around the world wanted to help, and they wanted to help directly. And the organizers needed stuff. Cleaning supplies, baby diapers, tools, all sorts of stuff. They created Amazon wedding registries so people could buy things directly and Amazon could ship them to where they were needed most. This is the most amazing use of resources I have seen. One thing I really appreciate is that they are focusing on sustainable solutions as well. They’re trying to use re-usable cloths and all natural cleaning products like Seventh Generation and vinegar.
You can find the wedding registries for Occupy Sandy at their webpage.
Additionally, my friend on Long Island is helping to collect books and school supplies for one of their local schools. They have a wish list on Amazon as well.
#GivingTuesday has a long list of partners and organizations on their site that you can volunteer with or donate to on #Giving Tuesday and every day, but my heart is with Occupy Sandy this year. Consider giving of your time or money on #Giving Tuesday this year, and every year.