Turning blue from shopping?

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Nonprofit Green America is launching Green Tuesday this week to encourage people to buy gifts with the environment and local communities in mind. The group is planning to push the event every Tuesday through December.

Green America, which said it aims to support society and the environment through economic programs, plans to showcase deals on its website, including jewelry made from recycled nuclear bomb equipment from online retailer Fromwartopeace.com and a self-watering system for plants by Dri Water.

“Mass culture encourages people to run out of their house, now at midnight, and go shopping,” said Todd Larsen, director of corporate responsibility for Green America, which vetted the businesses it’s highlighting on its website to ensure they meet certain environmental and ethical standards. “Why not wait another day or more and buy something that helps others?”

Last year, American Express named the Saturday after Thanksgiving “Small Business Saturday” to encourage Americans to shop at mom-and-pop shops. This year, it offered a $25 credit to cardholders who register on social media website Facebook and shop at participating stores.

The company said it launched a multibillion-dollar campaign to promote the day. The campaign included TV ads and marketing materials for small businesses to display in stores.

The effort has worked. Small retailers that accept Amex had a 28 percent increase in revenue during the daylong event last year, compared with a 9 percent rise for all retailers, according to card activity measured by American Express. The company did not disclose the dollar amount spent that day.

It’s not clear yet how small businesses fared during the event this past Saturday, but a company survey before Small Business Saturday showed that 89 million consumers had planned to “shop small” on the day.

“People get it; they are behind it 100 percent,” said Yabette Alfaro, owner of Swankity Swank, a San Francisco home furnishings and accessories shop that participates in Small Business Saturday. “Our customers don’t want to participate in Black Friday. Most of them think anyone making a stand is great.”

Lizbeth Turq, a 26-year old in Deerfield, Ill., shopped at several local shops this past weekend during Small Business Saturday. She ended up buying some gifts for the holidays, including one for her mother at a home decor store. Most of the items she found were 20 percent off, she said.

“It’s really not an issue of having a sale or not,” Miss Turq said, “It’s an issue of supporting the community I live in and creating jobs, particularly in the economy we are in.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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