Feel good about the gifts you give this year! Make the holidays a little more meaningful this year by being mindful of where and how you spend your hard earned money. It IS possible to give wonderful gifts without overspending, without buying toxic products, without generating excess trash, and without contributing to corporate greed. Why put yourself in debt buying presents that are harmful to the planet from corporations that do not respect their workers OR our planet? There are plenty of green alternatives out there!
Let’s start with the obvious. Did you know that the U.S generates 5 million extra tons of trash during the holidays? Four million tons of that is in the form of wrapping paper and shopping bags! Many of us are using reusable shopping bags for our groceries, so why not bring those along this year for our holiday shopping trips? Did you know that traditional wrapping paper is made with many toxic chemicals and that much of it comes from China? Burning this paper spews toxic fumes into your home and into the environment. To cut down on waste and to avoid these toxic chemicals, use un-dyed kraft tissue paper, or even reused paper bags. Get creative and decorate these with colored pencils or other art supplies you may have on hand, or use evergreen tips, pine cones or other natural materials you can find out your back door. If you’re pressed for time choose to buy non-toxic tissue or wrapping paper this year and finish it off with paper or fiber ribbon. These are all much greener ideas and much better for the health of your family and the planet.
So, the wrapping paper issue is an easy one to solve. Now what about what’s inside the wrapping paper?
Making your own gifts is one great idea, but let’s face it, not everyone has the time to make that happen. The next best thing would be to buy locally sourced gifts made from materials and processes that are not harmful to the planet, from local businesses which support your community. In our community we are gifted with so many talented artists and entrepeneurs. It would be SO EASY to buy local AND give creative, unique and meaningful presents. Choose from beautiful art, pottery, jewelry, wine, mead, body care products, books, beautiful hats and scarves, clothing, herbal products, baked goods and so much more. Another way to purchase gifts that are both useful AND locally sourced is to purchase gift certificates or gift cards from local businesses. Are they organic food lovers (I hope so!). At the Local Grocer we sell gift cards year round and they are always a big hit with our customers and a perfect gift for the organic foodie in your life. If you know your friend loves their lattes then purchase them a coffee card from one of the local coffee shops in the village. Do they love to be pampered? All Natural Skin Care in North Conway and Debony in Jackson both offer organic products and services using all natural face and body care products that truly nurture body, mind and soul. Or buy a gift certificate directly from your favorite masseuse, reiki master, numerologist, or yoga instructor. How about a month’s membership at the gym or your local pilates studio? Far from being impersonal, gift certificates can be a great way to show your loved ones that you know their “likes” and that you really care about their wellbeing.
Of course, you might not be able to find everything you’re looking for locally, and there are some great companies out there selling eco products online that are good for people and good for the planet.
So…. the notepad or ipod on your shopping list doesn’t feel like the most eco-friendly gift in the world? Instead, maybe think of WHERE YOU BUY that ipod. Is it from your locally owned retailer or from a big box store? Try to make at least ONE element of the purchase be something you can feel good about. Do you want to support local families or the global corporate greed that is destroying our planet, the integrity of our government and local economies?
The previous statement may seem a little intense to you, but the holidays are the perfect time of year to think about where and how we spend our money. The majority of retail profits are made between Thanksgiving and Christmas, so we know that LOTS of money is being spent this time of year. Frustration with our country’s present economic and political situation is at an all-time high right now. People from all over the political spectrum are getting fed up with Wall Street making more and more money while the majority of us are feeling the recession pressure. But I think that the most powerful vote that we have as a people is how we SPEND OUR MONEY. The more money we give to the large corporations, the more power the special interests have. Instead of blindly spending money in a hurried rush to complete the shopping list this year, stop and think about what YOU want to support. How do you want to vote with your money this holiday season? My wish is that we choose to VOTE LOCAL.