Give Green, Give Local

Posted on Dec 5 2012 - 12:00pm by Garret Stembridge


It’s here, whether you’re ready or not! Holiday shopping time. As you may have gathered from reading my other posts, I’m a rather meticulous person. That goes for my work, as well as my personal shopping habits. I prefer putting some extra thought into gifts that I give loved ones. I want to give something useful, yet more unique than what you can find sitting on most store shelves. I also like to think about my local community when I shop.


When you shop at a locally owned business instead of a national retailer, more money stays in your own community. How’s that? Locally owned businesses often buy from other local business, and they create more jobs locally compared to chains. Plus, opting to support local businesses instead of buying online means your tax dollars will also be available to help your community.


Local gifts are also typically greener because, in many cases, they didn’t have to travel as far to get to you. If you like the idea of shopping locally, but aren’t sure where to start, I have some ideas for you!


Create your own local food gift basket.

Use Local Harvest to find food gifts from local family farms. In your food gift basket, include items like pecans, maple syrup, honey, dried fruits, relishes and jams. If you’re giving to someone with a green thumb, throw in some seeds too!


Gift a green restaurant.

Some chefs go out of their way to buy from local farmers. That loyalty is often part of a larger process of running a green-certified restaurant. Find green restaurants in your area at the Green Restaurant Association website. Also try searching for sustainable restaurants using the Eat Well Guide, featuring more than 25,000 “locally grown listings.”


Support local artists.

Most art colleges hold sales during the holidays, giving you the chance to buy paintings, pottery, photographs and more from budding artists. Also check out your local art galleries, or keep your eyes open the next time you dine out. Many local restaurants and cafes “rent” out their walls to local artists who wish to feature their work for sale.


Attend a crafts fair.

Check your local newspaper for information about local crafts fairs. These are often held during the weekend inside schools, libraries or in areas typically used for farmer’s markets. I’ve seen some very unusual items up for sale at my local crafts fairs, including necklaces made from old piano keys! When you buy a gift from a crafts fair, you not only support a local small business, but chances are pretty slim that your gift recipient will receive a duplicate gift.


Buy memberships.

It’s the gift that keeps on giving the whole year! Support your local zoo, art museum or children’s museum by giving a gift membership. If you gift a membership, you’re not only supporting a good cause, but you may also reap the benefits of buying a tax-deductible gift.


Have a vintage Christmas.

Hit your local antique mall for vintage gifts. For fun, agree on a theme beforehand. For example, you can exchange gifts from the 1950s or 1980s. Or just make your vintage gift a surprise. If your gift recipient collects antiques, then you have the perfect excuse to support local vendors for the types of gifts you just can’t find inside a big-box store.


Give relaxation.

Know a great independent massage therapist or pedicurist? Then show some love this holiday season by giving them a potential new customer. Ask about gift cards on your next visit.


Now that you have some inspiration for shopping locally, make that shopping list and decide when you’ll shop. Have fun, and leave plenty of time for resting by the fire with a cup of hot cocoa!


Are you including local gifts on your holiday shopping list this year? What is your favorite type of gift to receive?

 Garret Stembridge