There is a meme that has been out on the internet showing the Hierarchy of Ethical Giving as articulated by Just Little Changes – advocating that people first give memories, then time, then various levels before having “buy” at the bottom of the pyramid.

I’d like to extend their concept a bit more and expand the bottom layers to read: Buy from a small business, Buy from a locally-run national store, and at the bottom Buy online.

As is the case for many people, some of my holiday gifts are coming from online retailers, but I am growing more and more conscious about the environmental waste such deliveries incur. Not only does it require a truck to deliver them, but online packages come with excessive packing materials, a box that is frequently discarded (recycled) and layers of paperwork that add to the environmental impact. Multiply that by millions and it matters.

As you are doing your holiday shopping this year (and for all the years to come), use this hierarchy as a guide to not only help the Earth but often to provide more delight to your recipient. It takes more effort to create an experience as opposed to hitting “one-click” to buy from your couch, but it may make your heart grow three sizes that day by doing so.


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