Black Friday alternatives

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As a consumer, you have power, and the responsibility to use that power wisely. Find such outlets and share with your friends, starting with this one:

Benevolence Farm was built on the premise of mercy and sincere belief in second chances. Our program provides a transitional employment and living program for women leaving North Carolina prisons. We recognize that change must come from within, but can be cultivated and inspired through a supportive, natural environment. Our goal is to give our participants the time and space — figuratively and literally — to make real, lasting changes. Our residents develop skills in sustainable farming, small business practices, food preparation and presentation in an environment that fosters improved physical, spiritual and financial health. Residents actively contribute to the well-being of the farm, staking a claim in the program’s — and more importantly their own — success.

Everybody deserves a second chance, and formerly incarcerated women have multiple barriers to overcome. These products are innovative and organically produced by some great women, so spread the word.

A good rule of thumb when looking for products is to examine the business model, and B-Corps are a great place to start. Like Counter Culture Coffee in Durham:

Each year, we collect $0.01 from each pound of coffee we sell throughout the year to fund our Seeds program. Seeds offers financial grants to producers and producer organizations we work with to implement sustainability projects they identify as beneficial. By directing Iridescent funds into Seeds, we will be able to support more projects and increase the resilience of coffee farmers and their communities. To date, we’ve allocated over $286,000 to Seeds projects.

So yeah, the B in B-Corp stands for Benefit. As in, they provide a benefit to the community (and the world in general). And you chocolate people will love French Broad Chocolate:

Since the beginning, French Broad Chocolate has been deeply committed to sustainability. Dan and Jael's pilgrimage from Costa Rica to Asheville was on a bus Dan converted to run on waste fryer oil... with auxiliary power supplied by a solar panel he mounted on the roof!

At our Chocolate factory in the RAMP Studios, we share our cacao shell mulch with local farmers and gardeners, and anything that can be composted is picked up by our colleague Danny of Danny's Dumpster, helping build our local soil fertility.

The list of initiatives we have taken to minimize our environmental footprint is a source of pride, but our most longstanding and devoted effort is in the purity and wholesomeness of our food.

Living in the fertile southern Appalachian mountains amid kindred agrarian spirits, we look no further than a holler in Old Sandy Mush for our flats of strawberries each spring, or Annie Louise's market stand for our fall pumpkins. We believe in supporting our community and its economy and are blessed to be surrounded with good food; chocolate and desserts are our contributions to that goodness! We must reach outside our foodshed for a few of our staples (like cacao and sugar!), but we remain true to our values, seeking farmers and producers whose values are in line with our own.

If you want to support survivors of domestic violence, and stay nice and warm while you do it, order a blanket from Thread Talk:

Survivors of domestic violence often flee abuse with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. Traumatized and fearful, they turn to local domestic violence programs for refuge from the relentless abuse they faced at the hands of their partner. Most shelters provide survivors everything they need to start over, from bedding and towels to toothbrushes and shampoo. And they do it for free! That’s why we donate 10% of all proceeds to domesticshelters.org, to help fund those critical wish list items to more than 2600+ nationwide domestic violence shelters and programs.

One of my personal favorites is TS Designs, owned and operated by my friend Eric Henry. He's worked hard to develop cotton suppliers from North and South Carolina, and he uses environmentally-friendly dies for his t-shirts. I was sporting one when I volunteered at the Dem booth at the NC State Fair a few years ago:

Hope I didn't upset your holiday spirit with my ugly mug there, but the t-shirt makes me look less frightening, doesn't it. Of course it does. You should buy one.

And of course there are the artists, who always need our support. Like Caitlin Cary of Tres Chicas fame. She recently took the plunge along with Skillet and opened an art gallery in downtown Raleigh named the Pocket Gallery, and is featuring some great local artists. She's got some very cool stuff in there:

Okay, I got you started, so use those little gray cells and find some more.

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