“I love the idea of giving to people you love, but that idea has been twisted. Now people go out in a mad rush to shop, like ravenous vampires feasting on new blood. We shop for a month, rip apart the packaging one morning, and then forget about it the next day. Is this about giving, or buying?” –Zen Habits
The holidays are usually my favorite time of year…and I am not trying to sound like a Grinch but I hate “commercial” Christmas. With Thanksgiving and Black Friday just one week away, thoughts of the holidays and shopping are hard to escape and I’m already starting to feel panicky about the whole thing.
I wonder if they call it “Black Friday” because the grim reaper of greed comes to kill the purpose and love behind Christmas?? Anyways…I have been trying to get my family to go gift-less for Christmas for the past few years and if I had it my way, Christmas would be about spending time with my loved ones and not one single gift would be exchanged.
Every year, we all rack our brains trying to come with gift ideas and spend much more money than necessary to buy the perfect presents. Imagine how much more enjoyable the entire season would be without all the chaos of the shopping malls and we could just focus on making the holidays about love. My favorite article in support of my gift-less Christmas idea is a MUST-READ: The Case Against Buying Christmas Presents
Rant over…since my family isn’t quite there yet, I’m coming up with a plan of compromise that I can be happy about and stay true to my personal stance. There are ways to shop that are conscious, thoughtful and meaningful. The amount of waste and energy it takes to produce new products is so alarming for our earth that this “eco-friendly” factor is a big deal for me.
My plan of attack is multi-fold with plenty of great options:
- Shop Fair Trade and/or Eco-Friendly – Fair Trade ensures fair competitive wages to farmers and artisans in developing communities while giving profits back to those communities to build the businesses, empower women, provide health care and education and fight poverty. Having some of the strictest environmental regulations in the industry, Fair Trade ensures farmers are using the best practices for sustainable growing techniques. There are so many fantastic online shops that carries plenty of Fair Trade and eco-friendly products, stocking stuffers and apparel from around the world that I cannot wait to browse through. A few of my favorite are: Ten Thousand Villages, Greenheart Shop and Global Girlfriend.
- Buy Local – Goodbye Walmart, hello friendly local shop owner! Did you know the Saturday after Thanksgiving has been deemed “Small Business Saturday?” What a great opportunity to shop local! There are so many cool gems in our downtown districts that I’ve never even stepped foot into so I want to scour the shops & boutiques over the next few weeks and patronize our local storefronts. These business owners invest their heart, soul and money into something they are passionate about and small businesses really rely on our support to survive! Plus it saves money, time and precious carbon emissions when buying local.
- The CLE Flea – Tomorrow and Sunday The Cleveland Flea is hosting their Holiday market in Cleveland and there isn’t a better place around to find unique antiques, jewelry, home decor, vintage apparel, homemade soaps and candles and so much more. I love the sense of community and pride this flea market is fostering in Cleveland as so many local vendors gather and sell their hard-made creative goods. There are great repurposed home decor items, gently-used clothes that are taking on a second life and eco-friendly products that are making me believe Cleveland cares about our environment and whole, natural living…exciting stuff! Check out my recent shopping experience with The CLE Flea >>
- Get Creative with Homemade – This one is my favorite. I love being creative and making things with my hands. Whether it be crafty items, bake goods, or a valued service you can provide, I don’t think there is anything more thoughtful than a creation of your own. Pinterest is my absolute favorite resources for finding easy D.I.Y. projects and craft ideas for gift-giving and really anything you can think of, the more creative you are the better!
- Experiences – Last year I bought my parents tickets to the Trans Siberian Orchestra and I loved that they were able to enjoy an evening out, creating memories together and doing something fun and new together. There wasn’t anything tangible that gets forgotten or stored away in a closet for another day (or year), and really, who needs more clutter in their life? One of my favorite gifts I’ve received was a kayaking gift card from my husband and while a gift card may seem generic on the surface, it was a new adventure for us to do together. Life is about experiences and sharing moments with the people who mean the most to you…not collecting material possessions that eventually turn into clutter and a burden on you.
- Donate – My sisters and I recently decided to stop buying one another birthday gifts and instead, we will donate to a different charity every year. Each of our families will have a chance to pick a charity of our choice and donate the fund in our family’s name. I am so excited for this! Being the middle child, I have to wait 3 years until it’s my year to pick the charity but I’m already looking forward to it. What a way to give back to so many people and causes that need the help more than I need a birthday gift! Now, if I only can get this same idea to apply to our Christmas exchange, we’d be in really great shape.
How are you making Christmas extra “green” this year? Do you have a go-to store or product that you love gifting?