Following in the footsteps of Valentine and Halloween, Black Friday is the third American holiday to get adopted by Europeans. For those of you unfamiliar with the event: Black Friday is the day after America’s Thanksgiving and officially kicks off the Christmas shopping period. Its main purpose is make you buy, buy and buy some more…
Major discounts on premium products send America – and to an extend Europe – into a shopping frenzy. You cannot escape the irony: one day Americans say thanks for everything they have, the very next day they shop until they drop. According to figures on Wikipedia American families have spent 50 billion dollars during the Black Friday weekend of 2014. Talking about consumerism!
The trailer for the Minimalism documentary gives you an idea of what I am talking about:
Luckily, we Europeans remain a bit more level-headed… At least for the the time being… When it comes to America’s bad habits, we are never far behind.
After starting nomoremovies.com and following the Minimalists we wanted no part in this. This year, we chose to avoid expensive malls and crowded megastores. After all, I’m trying to get rid of my stuff remember? Instead of buying expensive stuff we don’t really need, we went Fair Trade and visited a local Oxfam Gift Fair.
Oxfam: more than Fair Trade
On the surface Oxfam is a non-profit organisation that sells stuff you usually buy in a supermarket. The main difference is their mission… instead of making profit at the expense of local farmers, they provide fair trade opportunities to lift them out of poverty. Their cozy World Stores can be found in every town and sell food, tea, wine, toys, jewels, handbags, postcards etc. Find a store near you.
If you look closer though, it becomes clear that they do A LOT MORE than just than trading fairly…
Oxfam shows up wherever they are needed… working with displaced children from war-torn areas is just one example:
The people of Yemen are experiencing one of the world’s gravest humanitarian crises. The conflict that started 18 months ago has killed thousands, forced over 3.1 million to flee their homes because of daily fightings and airstrikes, and left more than half the country without enough to eat, because of a lack of work opportunities and an inability to afford basic food items.
As many as 21 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.
Yemen activist Shatha Alghabri – now based in Malaysia – worked with the displaced children in this video to show what this war actually means for the next generation.
Oxfam has helped thousands of children like these caught up in the Yemen crisis. But escalating conflict and the ongoing lack of decisive steps towards peace are making a dire humanitarian situation worse. We must do all we can to push for a permanent and immediate ceasefire. You can help. Demand an end to the violence in Yemen
So what is Oxfam?
- When people have the power to claim their basic human rights, they can escape poverty – permanently. This core belief underpins our development programs in more than 90 countries.
- Human development is driven by empowered women. But women and girls are still massively under represented and often oppressed. We work to help them speak out and demand justice, and to assert their leadership.
- When disaster strikes, we are there. We help people caught up in natural disasters and conflict. We typically provide clean water, food and sanitation in disaster zones. As far as we can, we strive to ensure that civilians are protected too.
- Natural resources are vital for prosperity and poor people are often not getting their fair share. This situation is worsened by the impacts of climate change that the international community is failing to address properly. We lobby governments, international organizations and corporations for fairer land policies and action on climate change.
- To stop people going hungry, we work to secure global food supplies so that people always have enough to eat. Already, almost a billion of us go to bed hungry every night. Not because there isn’t enough. But because of the deep injustice in the way the food system works.
- Being able to access basic services such as health and education is essential to people’s well-being and to human development. We push to secure adequate financial flows to sustain basic services for poor people.
Oxfam Belgium listed these accomplishments in their 2015 year report.
- 8 drinking wells were repaired in Mali. Resulting in 750 families getting access to clean water again.
- 5562 donations made it possible to help Nepal after the earthquake. By March 2016, Oxfam and its local partners had provided lifesaving support to over 480,000 people in seven districts.
- 1836 volunteers helped out in Oxfam’s second hand shops and at specific events such as festivals or Oxfam’s trailwalker.
After Hurricane Matthew thousands of families are homeless and without access to clean water and sanitation in Haiti. Oxfam is distributing life-saving essentials. That’s right, they are not only supporting farmers and women’s rights, they are also responding to emergencies whenever they can.
Shopping to help others
Upon entering, we did not encounter maddening crowds. There was no one pushing other people to get to that big screen tv first… We were approached by an elderly volunteer with a grey beard. He smiled, thanked us for coming and offered us a free cup coffee – fair trade of course. What a difference!
We spent a lovely afternoon looking around and learning about what Oxfam did. Boy, they do A LOT! Make sure you check out their site. They also have a blog of their own. There are so many ways to follow them, support them or even lend a hand yourself. If you are more the outdoor type, you can support Oxfam by participating in the Oxfam Trailwalker event.
In the end we bought some small bottles of wine (to accompany our Hello Fresh dinner), some chocolate (dark of course) some tea and a nice present from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) for my godchild.
I know, the contents of this shopping cart will not change the world… but I did my share. By sharing this, I hope you see that even by doing something mundane as grocery shopping, you can help those that are really in need.
How awesome is that?
Why not make a habit of dropping by your local Oxfam shop from time to time. There’s always a present, some postcards or some ingredients you can use.
Fair trade is sustainable trade… and your contribution helps them doing so much more.
Donations help too
Next to shopping at the store and the fair, Nomoremovies donates to Oxfam on a monthly basis. You can too, if you want to. Remember: gifts are tax-deductable, meaning that for every 40 euros you donate, the Belgian government reimburses you 18. By the way, did you know the European Union and all Belgian governments (yes, we have many) subsidize to Oxfam. That’s because Oxfam a mature organisation and is very transparent on where the money goes. You can read it all in their online reports.
So… Black Friday shopping at Oxfam?
How’s that for a new habit in the spirit of Thanksgiving?