Top 10 Ways to be an Ethical Shopper this Holiday

Posted on November 18, 2017

The winter holidays are upcoming and that means stores will be offering sales, limited time items, and more. If giving gifts is something you do during the winter holiday season, we have 10 tips to keep you making conscious and ethical choices about where you put your dollars.

10. Buy Nothing Day: Friday, November 24th has the dubious honour of being both Black Friday, the largest shopping day in North America, as well as Buy Nothing Day. The idea is for Buy Nothing Day, you do just that. Buy nothing. This is meant to help push back against the consumerism of holiday shopping seasons by undermining the sales events of Black Friday. This helps to raise awareness of what consumerism is and how it affects us, as well as ensuring more items don’t end up in landfills.

9. Buy Local: When you decide to make a purchase, see if there’s a local option or alternative. Spending your money with small, local business increases local circulation of the money as those businesses tend to put more into local economy. The whole effect is to strengthen the local economy, while reducing the influence and power of large-scale corporations.

8. Make a trade: Instead of buying anything at all, look to make a trade with someone else. A friend who has similar-sized clothing, a neighbour who needs something you don’t anymore, and so on. We outgrow many of our possessions, but they might be great for someone else!

7. Thrift shop: Purchasing gifts from thrift shops, especially those that support local business or charity, is a great way to find a gift without hurting the planet or your wallet. 

6. Make it yourself: Homemade gifts are often the best, and even something simple like baked sweets make others happy, while not using up goods that go into the landfill. You can even make new things from old, such as upcycling t-shirts into bags!

5. Buy quality: When all else fails, buy quality goods. An item that won’t wear out fast, or can be repaired, will last years and avoid filling up landfills with fast fashion items and obsolete electronics. Take your time, save your money up, and make a long-term choice.

4. Make donations instead: Sometimes the best gift is to make a donation in someone else’s name. Your money goes to causes that need it, instead of to corporations, and your friends and family know that the contribution will be meaningful.

3. Avoid the sales: While sales can be a good way to lower your costs, make sure you know who is losing out on that extra profit. Sales can eat into the profits of small producers, while not hurting the large reseller who put the item on discount. Furthermore, a discount is a way to drive sales, but small businesses often can’t compete, losing your business instead while you’re lured away by discount prices.

2. Pay attention to packaging: Packaging doesn’t only harm the environment by creating more waste, but it increases the cost of the item as well. If you have a choice, look to choose items with less packaging. This is also a benefit of shopping at thrift stores, doing trades, or making things yourself!

1. Think on it: The number one thing to help you to be an ethical shopper is to think on it. Do some research on the product, decide if you or the one you’re buying for really needs the item. Only buy items you really love and need, and make smart decisions when you do.

We hope this list has helped you make conscious, ethical, and green choices in your holiday shopping. Also, take a look at My New Neighbour's ethical holiday gift guide here. If you want more gift ideas, contact our Green Hub, or join us for the Yuletide Open House, and talk with us! We’re happy to brainstorm ideas with you!

Help us make every action count this season. We want every Calgarian to make sure their actions count. Let us know what green choices you’ve made with the #EveryActionCounts hashtag on Facebook or Twitter! You can also help out Green Calgary’s programs by becoming a member or making a gift.