How To Shop Consciously This Holiday Season (+ Why It's Important!)

November 23, 2018

It's officially shop-till-you-drop {or run out of money} season! Despite the chaos, I love the holidays, and one of my favorite parts of the season is picking out thoughtful gifts for my loved ones. 


Last night after we did our best to recover from our food comas, my family talked me into joining them for my first ever Black Friday shopping experience. I'll be honest, I've always been afraid + anxious just thinking about people fighting over TV's, shoving their way through crowds, and acting outright crazy just to get a good deal on something they probably don't need. I get it, a lot of people get a thrill out of racing to get deals and make a family event out of it and I love that, my anxious soul just needs a need calmer bonding activity. 


But if you really take a minute to think about it, the whole concept of Black Friday is kind of crazy. We end a day that is supposed to be about giving thanks for all that we have with rushing out of dinner to go buy more things. More often than not, we're not shopping for things we actually need, we're shopping for things we think we need because everyone else has them, they're on sale, or they're what's "in" right now. We live in a culture that is constantly making us believe we need more, better, newer stuff, that if we're being honest, stuff that we've moved on from by the next holiday season. 


This level of consumerism leads to all kinds of issues, like racking up debt, creating unnecessary waste, and sacrificing quality of things, or even our values, so we can have more things. I get it, I'm a sucker for a sale, and it's definitely easier to enjoy your new things without thinking about the human, environmental or social costs of our consumerist choices. But if we don't start making changes, we are ultimately going to have to pay the price for the damage we've caused to our planet and the people and things that inhabit it. 


I can tell you from my personal experience learning about fast-fashion, consumerism, and the effects of our habits that being informed is the first step to making a change in the way we see things and the way we behave as individuals and as a culture. Once you're aware of the impacts you are making or could be making, it's hard not to care. 


This shopping season is the perfect opportunity to learn and take steps towards being a more conscious consumer, and I want to help you get started. Below I've listed seven of my best tips and things to remember when it comes to shopping consciously and I hope they will inspire you to support small, ethical brands and stores, and buy thoughtful gifts made to last. 



1. Shop Locally 


Not only are local goods higher quality, when you purchase something from a local business, you know exactly where your money is going: to a local family striving to support themselves and serve their community. When you shop online or from a giant corporation, most of the time you don't know where your money is going, or what it's supporting. When we spend money, we are voting with our dollar for the things we want to see continue and thrive, so by shopping at businesses we believe in, we are doing our small part to support our community and inspire change. 


2. Get Creative 


Ask any mom what her favorite gift from her children has been, and I'm willing to bet she'll say something they made her. Making gifts is often cheaper, and way more unique than anything you can buy at a store. Making gifts also gives you the opportunity to up-cycle some things you no longer want or need in your house, like making candles out of old containers or glass, or empty pots. You'd be amazed at the DIY gift ideas you can find if you just look around (or on Pinterest, duh). 


3. Remember Quality Over Quantity


I would be lying if I said I didn't love Forever 21, and most of the people I buy gifts for do too. What I don't love is that most things I buy there only make it through a couple washes before they unravel or shrink, leaving me with no choice but to toss them and replace them.  This is the case for most cheap things we buy, they either don't make it to the next holiday season, or they we've moved on to the next trend and no longer use them. The average American spends $700 on Christmas gifts every year, and I don't know about you, but I'd rather spend that money of things my loved ones will keep and cherish and for years to come. 


4. Be Thoughtful and Intentional


Sure, I could buy my sister a super cute hoodie from PINK and she would love it, but she could buy that for herself. When I'm gift shopping, I always try to think about unique, personal things that someone probably wouldn't buy themselves. Whether it's a custom pint glass for my dad, or handmade jewelry for my sisters, I always try to think about giving gifts with intention and meaning, not just things that will end up becoming "just more stuff."


5. Do Your Research 


Nothing is more heartbreaking than finding out one of your favorite brands tests of animals or treat their workers poorly, other than knowing that by continuing to spend money with those brands, we're continuing to support to practices. One of my favorite apps is called Good On You, and it allows you to find the impact a brand has on people, the planet and animals with a quick search. It will give you a rating for that brand, along with a breakdown of why it was rated that way. Sure it stinks to find out you should probably stop shopping at a brand you love, but it's better than living in ignorance of their actions, and provides you with an opportunity to discover new brands you may love even more. 


6. Give Experiences 


I feel like the older you get, the harder it is to give gifts, because most people you're buying for already have the things they actually need. This year for Christmas instead of giving each other gifts, by boyfriend and I decided to give each other an experience, and plan a trip somewhere we've been wanting to go. Whether it's a trip, a spa treatment, a concert ticket, experiences are something that people will always cherish, and it adds much more excitement to their life than just another thing. Plus, it's another excuse to spend some quality time with someone you care about.  


7. Find a Compromise 


A few years ago, if I would have picked up a t-shirt that cost $38, I would have put it back, laughed, and noted that I could by the same one for $4.60 at Forever21. But now that I'm more educated on fast-fashion and buying things to last, $38 for a shirt that was ethically made and will last me years seems like a much better option. Victoria's Secret PJ's used to be a Christmas tradition in my house between my mom, my two sisters and I. But now that I know more about the low-quality and not particularly ethical values of the company, I've opted to continue the PJ tradition but with a more ethical brand. It's a win-win. You'd be surprised how easy it is to find substitutes for your favorite brands or things if you're just willing to take the extra few minutes to look.  


I hope this inspires you to re-think some of your Christmas shopping and gives you some great ideas on ways to do it! If you have any favorite ethical brands, small businesses, or ideas for conscious Christmas gifts, drop them below, I'd love to check them out! 



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