With the holiday season encroaching and Christmas tunes being pumped with increasing frequency, something on many people’s minds is shopping. Whether it’s preparing for big family meals, gift-giving, trips away or meals out there are a lot of opportunities to release the reins on your budget. Though, we’d also note as advocates of sustainable fashion and mindful consumption that there’s also a lot of undue pressure to spend money.
Sidebar: was anyone else very confused by the White Elephant gifting thing in Happiest Season? Regardless, while we’re absolutely stressing that you should give yourself permission to opt-out of unnecessary gift-giving simply for the sake of it, what if you do want really want to treat something to a material joy?
Shopping small and local is something we’re behind year-round, and it’s a great opportunity to do a little good with your carefully earned and saved holiday cash. Below, a couple of reasons why we’re suggesting that you shop small this Christmas.
Shopping small supports people in your direct community
When you think of small businesses, what do you think of? Etsy shops? Cafes? Lots of crafts and niche items? Tiny stores by the beach that only seem to sell exclusively beige and linen items? While all of these could be classed as small businesses, and could well provide a great gift or two, there’s a whole world beyond them. While it might not always be feasible to do your whole weekly shop at your local greengrocer or farmers market, aiming to spend what you can with small businesses puts money directly back into the community around you.
Consider grabbing your spices from the Indian grocer by your train station. Or buying your bread from the bakery next to your school. Instead of buying a pre-selected plastic-wrapped gift hamper of fancy jams and condiments, why not assemble your own from picklers and purveyors in your area? We’re big fans of Cornersmith, The Locals Market and Condimental. A giant supermarket isn’t going to notice you spend $15 every other week with them, but for independent vendors and makers, it adds up.
It helps avoids waste generated by shopping online
Given our postal system is already heaving under the weight of increased online shopping this year, you probably already knew we were going to mention this one. Packaging, air miles, road miles, they all add up. And our emissions reductions targets aren’t even a serious issue for our febrile government! When you shop small and locally, you’re doing what you can to minimise the environmental impact of your goods making their way around the world via exotic international postal facilities.
Even with more companies switching to recyclable or compostable packing materials, there’s still so much single-use plastic generated through online shopping. (And while we might be composting our mailers, we’re not sure if everyone is, you know?) Not to mention that it’s sometimes hard to tell how something is going to come packaged until it actually arrives. It really twists the knife when you think you’re shopping from a sustainably-minded brand only to have everything arrive in twenty layers of bubble wrap. This doesn’t happen when
Shopping small sends an important message
As well as putting some cash into local communities, we reckon it’s important to acknowledge what values you’re choosing to support when you shop small. Big supermarket chains, retail giants and huge conglomerates can talk all they want to about supporting farmers, garment workers and retail workers, but at the end of the day, we know those industries aren’t putting people or the planet before profit. When you shop small you’re opting (a little bit at least) out of a system that we know is exploitative.
Further, we reckon it’s much easier to shift people over into a kinder way of conducting oneself when you’re modelling the behaviour already. What could be a nicer feeling than giving someone a truly considerate, special gift and being able to tell them about how it’s maker recommends that it’s used? Or their tips for wearing and caring for it? It’s also just so much more personal than a mediocre body butter set, in our opinion.
Lead image via Instagram @thelocalsmarket.