The holidays are (literally) right around the corner. Which means you’re probably making lists of people you need to buy gifts for and what you want for yourself. And while the act of gift-giving (and receiving) is something that is sentimental, genuine, and truly wonderful, the holidays themselves have become a time of year where companies tell you to buy more, trick you into buying more than you want or need, and overproduce product for us to overconsume. Isn’t that lovely?
So what can we do to try and change this as consumers? Well, here are some tips on how to do your holiday shopping a little more mindfully/sustainably.
1 . DON’T SHOP BLACK FRIDAY
Ok, ok. I know I’m already going to lose a few people here. And I completely understand why. Because if you already have to buy gifts for people, it might as well be when they’re on sale. Totally understand. If you know you’re gonna shop Black Friday and nothing will sway you from doing that, go ahead and move to #2. If you aren’t that big of shopping on Black Friday (like I am), keep reading.
Black Friday is usually the biggest day of sales for literally any retailer. People save their shopping to shop on this day. That’s a pretty well known fact. But how much retailers make during the holidays is also used to help judge the state of the industry. If sales are good, then it’s assumed that consumer spending is good. And if they're better than anticipated, then retailers think that people are buying more than they expected. And that’s where the issue lies. Because if they they think people are buying more, they’re going to make more. And more. And more. And more (you get the gist). BUT. If we don’t shop Black Friday, then retailers will think that consumer spending is down, people are saving their money a little more. Which means they’ll produce LESS going into the next year. And that is the ultimate goal.
2 . BUY YOUR GIFTS FROM SUSTAINABLE/ETHICAL COMPANIES
This one is kinda of a no-brainer. If you want to make your own habits more sustainable/ethical/mindful, shopping at companies that align with those beliefs and practices is a good start. Not only will you be supporting companies that are trying to make changes in their (respective) industries, but many of these companies also have partnerships with charities and organizations, which you will be supporting through buying through them. Also, in giving a sustainable/ethic gift, you can expose the receiver of the gift to a new company that they can choose to shop from again, and in turn, affect their shopping as well!
Suggested places to shop:
3 . BUY YOUR GIFTS FROM LOCAL ARTISANS
So there is a big debate on whether shopping locally or shopping online is more eco-friendly. Technically the answer is online, but with everyone utilizing two- and one-day shipping, that blows any carbon savings out the window. If you live in a metropolitan area and/or have access to public transportation, this is something that will be super easy for you, and something I highly encourage. And even if you don't, try and shop on your route home or to work. Here's why I think you should still buy locally. You're supporting your local community and fostering creative businesses and helping them grow. Studies also show that local businesses put more back into the local economy than large retail chains do. And that for me is a big plus.
4 . BUY YOUR GIFTS SECONDHAND
So secondhand shopping has BOOMED over the past year or two. There are now more places than ever to find used items for you to buy. But when it comes to buying something for another person, buying that something secondhand is still kind of taboo. AND IT SHOULDN’T BE! First, shopping during the holidays can get quite expensive. Shopping secondhand can save you some of that cash dolla monnayyyyy. Second, remember that overproduction and consumption problem I mentioned earlier? Yea buying secondhand means that you won't be contributing to that waste problem we have. Third, secondhand doesn't mean old. You can get a lot of new secondhand items on places like Etsy, Depop, Offerup, Ebay, and at your local thrift stores. I highly recommend doing this if you're looking for electronics or popular clothing/accessory items. They will usually be on any of these sites.
5 . GIVE THE GIFT OF AN EXPERIENCE
You don’t always have to give the gift of someTHING, you can give the gift of something TO DO. This could be anything from a wine tasting to a play to a weekend trip to a sports game. So while experiences are still going to produce waste (food containers & wrappers, programs, transportation, etc.), you would still be doing some carbon saving—no shipping required to get the tickets to you, no driving to a store to buy something, no wrapping required, etc. And you won't have to worry about anybody returning your gift. That's always a win in my book.
6 . GIVE THE GIFT OF A GIFT
For quite some time now, some people have been asking their friends and family to give the gift of a donation to a charity/organization that they choose or that they person can choose themselves instead of buying a gift. This gift will very much depend on the person, but if you know that they have a cause/charity that is close to their heart, a donation will definitely be something that they can appreciate.
7. DON’T BUY BAGS OR WRAPPING PAPER
Underline. Exclamation point! Can’t say this enough. Use bags and wrapping paper that you already have. If you don’t have any, get creative with what you do have around the house. Save nice paper bags that you get when shopping—you can always paint over logos. Save boxes from things you get in the mail. I personally always wrap my gifts in newspaper. This is something that I’ve been doing for years because I was too lazy to actually go and buy wrapping paper. But this way you’re reusing all those papers you’re just going to get rid of anyway, and I think it adds a fun touch the wrapping of the present. I always try to look for a funny or artsy picture to use when wrapping.
So these are definitely just a few a few things you can do to shop more mindfully and sustainably this holiday season. Is there anything that you guys do that I didn't put on my list? Let me know in the comments below!
I hope all of you have a great holidays!