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.


I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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