The holidays are creeping up on us fast, and for many this means hauling out decorations, cooking enough food to feed a small army and spending evenings and weekends dashing from party to party. It can also mean absolute chaos at every store you walk into, and unbelievable pressure to buy expensive gifts at the mall. In the last few years I have made the decision to avoid this whole noise and to buy my gifts from more socially conscious sources. My reasons were to A) avoid supporting corporate greed, B) avoid the crowds of malls and C) get unique gifts that will show people I care.
If you’re like me and want to shop more consciously, here a few tips to get started.
1. Shop from businesses that support greater causes such as The Little Market. Founded by Lauren Conrad and Hannah Skvaria, The Little Market sources handmade goods around the world, providing income to the artisans who make them. Not only can you find quality gifts for your loved ones, but you can help support those that made the products rather than just putting money in a CEO’s pocket.
2. Etsy is the holy grail of gift buying, where independent businesses sell their goods and shops are often run by one person who’s likely making everything themselves. Because of this, it’s important to buy early, especially if they live in another country. However, you have the advantage of browsing hundreds of shops to find exactly what you’re looking for, supporting ‘mom and pop’ shops and not having to get out of your pajamas.
3. A great way to avoid the malls is to shop local. Explore your home and the smaller businesses that make a living in it. Visiting the farmers markets, holiday markets and craft fairs are a great way to opt out of supporting corporate greed. Typically these markets are cash only, so if you’re on a budget this is a great way to shop because you can only spend as much cash as you bring!
4. Why buy new items when you can recycle old ones? Thrift stores offer the opportunity to score gifts that are one of a kind, or even antique, while saving you money and supporting the environment. It’s also fun imagining who owned that set of pearls or that record beforehand, passing down someone’s previous treasure to your loved ones. Use your imagination and show you care by digging a little deeper.
5. If you want to try your hand at replacing your paper trail altogether, make something with materials found in your home or carry out a kind gesture instead of buying a gift. Donate your time with family or friends by volunteering at a homeless shelter or cooking a meal for people who are more in need than you are. Providing others with holiday cheer is what this time of year is all about, right?
The holidays put a great deal of pressure on us to spend excess money on items that were mass-produced in factories, but shopping on websites such as Etsy, as well as visiting local shops and markets allow you to purchase from individuals instead of companies. Support your local artists this season, remembering your hard earned cash is going towards individuals who want to be able to afford presents for their loved ones too. And don’t forget to support the environment and people who are more in need too, showing your love for your community rather than just those in your own circle.