Originally written by Kelly Anne Smith, expert with Forbes
Americans are ready to spend big this holiday season. The National Retail Federation (NRF) forecasts holiday sales to reach as much as $859 billion during November and December, from a previous high of $777 billion last year.
But behind those dollars are many people who wonder if there’s a better way to celebrate the holidays with their loved ones than by embracing mass consumerism. If you’re feeling burned out by the consumerism of the holiday season, consider conscious gifting instead.
What is Conscious Gifting?
Conscious gift giving focuses on meaningful spending that supports causes you and your gift recipients care about. It can also entail giving thoughtful gifts which will last a long time or fill a purpose in someone’s life, rather than buying the newest and coolest gadgets. It can be a way to alleviate the pressure to get hot-list items for your kids, or to buy something new that will eventually end up in a dumpster.
Here are four ways to be a conscious shopper this holiday season:
1. Support Small Businesses
While shopping behemoths like Amazon saw record-breaking sales during the pandemic, it’s taking longer for small businesses to recover.
A May analysis by the World Economic Forum found 34% of small businesses were closed compared to January 2020. But there’s been a spike in business applications—so there are plenty of budding enterprises that could use our support.
Some communities also host their own weekend markets, where you can support local artisans and farmers. Some YMCAs, for example, host weekend farmers’ markets. Check your local community center or join neighborhood Facebook groups to discover markets happening near you.
2. Buy Sustainable Gifts
To identify a business as sustainable, eco-friendly or other types of ethical pledges, look for reputable certifications including certified B Corporations, Fair Trade certified and the Global Organic Textile Standard.
Some companies will also include credentials on their labels that claim their products are “eco-friendly” or “fair trade.” It’s important to do research on the groups behind the accreditation—if they’re industry-sponsored, that can be a strong indicator that they may not follow strict standards or enforcement of qualifying criteria.
If you want to completely skip giving material items as gifts, consider making a donation to a charity of choice on the recipient’s behalf.
Charity Navigator evaluates charities based on their financial health, accountability and transparency. The organizations are given a rating based on a scale of four stars to help you determine ones that could be a good fit. You can also search Charity Navigator for companies in certain categories, such as health, education, research and more.
4. Buy Secondhand
Although conscious shopping isn’t as easily done as a one-click purchase on Amazon, it can be simplified. Don’t have time to dig into the ethics and values behind a brand? Consider secondhand gift shopping instead.
Gifting secondhand items can reduce waste, but only when done properly. Buying fast fashion items from a thrift store may lessen your guilt of the purchase, but these items aren’t made to last; after a few wears, you could end up disappointed in the item and wanting to consume more, just like the person who originally purchased it.
Originally posted by Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/advisor/personal-finance/conscious-gifting/