Happy Thanksgiving friends! As consumers in America are preparing for the upcoming Holiday season, two daunting words epitomize the shopping season: Black Friday. I have partaken in the Black Day festivities in years past so I am familiar with the middle-of-the-night lines tonight, hordes of people pushing and shoving, pure rudeness and lack of decency, and the crazy, frenzy looks in their eyes to buy buy buy. One word comes to my mind when I think of the next 6 weeks – over-consumption.
Think of the large amounts of money spent on gifts, wrappings and decorations, the enormous environmental impact Christmas shopping has (the millions and millions of boxes, packaging, wrapping paper, food excess, etc.), and heightened stress levels to have the perfect holiday and purchase the perfect gifts. And for what – one single day out of the entire year?
I often dream that the Holiday season will one day be truly about family and spending time together. I imagine that if everyone would agree to forgo the millions of presents and just enjoy the day together, the whole season will take on a new meaning. But for now, if presents are a part of your celebration this year, I have a special challenge for you – make it a Green Friday instead! Make a list of all the people you intend to buy for and take some time to really think about who they are and what they types of things they would treasure.
Going green for the holidays can mean a number of fun things:
- Shop Local – go to your city’s downtown area and find local artisans, jewelers, spas, salons, gift shops and patronize them. One of the easiest ways to give back to your community is to shop and dine in your hometown. You never know what kind of creative gifts and one-of-a-kind treasures you may find. Bonus – you may even be able to get all your shopping done in one trip!
- Shop Fair Trade – there are numerous benefits to communities across the globe by buying Fair Trade. These products are mostly hand-crafted with love by women in impoverished areas in the world and your spending dollar is directly affecting their income and standard of living. Plus, these items offer a great mix of unique, eclectic goods with a worldly flair.
- Reuse & Recycle – find a local thrift store or consignment shop
that offers quality pre-enjoyed items and find creative ways to update and
personalize them. Nothing shows more thoughtfulness than taking a gently used
item, freshening it up and tweaking it for a specific person.
- Do It Yourself– do you have any hobbies that you enjoy and are talented at? Can you turn this into presents? There are thousands of ideas for homemade gifts, from crafts or woodworking to baking or sewing. It can be as easy as homemade soap, a plate of cookies, a unique wreath, knitting a scarf or framing a photo.
- Buy Services – Don’t buy things because you feel you have to – it’ll just end up as clutter in the closet never to be used or seen again. That’s not a gift but a burden! Another option is to buy them something they enjoy doing. Ski lessons, symphony tickets, movie passes, a massage, a sporting event tickets – life is about experiences and people so why not spend money on something that creates great memories together!
Photo Credit: Michael Holden