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Your Simple Guide to Conscious Holiday Shopping

11/24/2021
Conscious Healthy Living
Pile of gifts wrapped in neutral brown shipping paper with pine sprigs after conscious holiday shopping.

From the twinkling lights on evergreen trees to the cheerful holiday music, the signs of the season are everywhere. As excited shoppers make their gift lists, retailers kick their marketing efforts up a notch or two. 

As the advertisements of holiday sales and discounts hit your inbox, you respond by clicking on link after link. Filling your shopping cart to the brim, you rush to take advantage of the sales while getting gifts for everyone on your list. 

If you’re like most Americans, you’ll plan to spend almost $1000 on holiday shopping this year. Out of this $1000 budget, roughly $650 will go towards gifts. Food and decorations will cost about $230, and $117 will be spent on miscellaneous holiday purchases. While that number is down a bit from years past, it’s still substantial. Factor in the costs of travel, and not only are the holidays the busiest time of year, but they’re also the most expensive. 

If you’re planning to spend the average amount of cash on your holiday, why not consider making more of an impact through conscious holiday shopping? 

Tips for Conscious Holiday Shopping

It seems that phrases like “sustainability”, “social responsibility”, and “conscious consumerism” are the new buzzwords on everyone’s lips these days. The call to consumers to shop local and support small businesses is heard throughout the holiday season. 

But what does it mean to be socially conscious when it comes to holiday shopping? The good news is that there are a few simple things you can do to be a more conscious shopper.

We’ve put together a simple guide to help you navigate the ins and outs of shopping consciously. From shop local to fairtrade labels and organic certifications, we’ll walk you through what to look for as you become a more conscious consumer.

1. Buy Local, Shop Small®  

One of the easiest ways to practice conscious holiday shopping is to look in your own backyard. The slogans “buy local” and “support small business” may come to mind. Thanks to American Express, we now have a day called Small Business Saturday® dedicated to this very thing. In 2019, an estimated 110 million American consumers supported local retailers and restaurants. They spent a record $19.6 billion on Small Business Saturday alone.

When you shop locally, you make a conscious decision to support your friends and neighbors while reducing the impact on the environment. And in return for shopping close to home, you’ll find unique, quality handmade goods that are sourced locally and farmed responsibly. 

Black board in a wooden frame that says "thank you for shopping local" for conscious holiday shopping.

Instead of heading to the mall packed with frenzied shoppers, why not visit local artisan boutiques? You’ll find incredible, handmade gifts from pottery and art to jewelry and hand-knitted items. Imagine the look on your loved one’s face when they open a unique, hand-made gift you picked out just for them! You’ll not only delight the receivers of your thoughtful gifts, but you’ll also help local vendors support their families. 

Don’t know what vendors are available in your area? Visit your city’s Chamber of Commerce website for a list of local shops. You’ll find a variety to choose from, including those that are minority-owned, woman-owned, and veteran-owned. 

2. Are Your Favorite Brands Socially Conscious?

With every swipe of your credit card this holiday season, you have an opportunity to shop consciously. Think about why you choose to buy certain brands. In other words, what’s your motivation to buy from your favorite companies? 

For instance, do you buy coffee from your local coffee shop because you know it’s Fairtrade certified, or do you buy it to show off a certain logo? With a simple shift in your shopping perspective, you can use your purchasing power to help make a difference in the world. 

Many brands have aligned themselves with different socially conscious causes. From supporting educational programs to building community gardens, companies look for ways they can give back to their communities. 

As a consumer, you’re more likely to give your trust and loyalty to purpose-driven brands. So much so that you’re willing to pay a few dollars more if you know your purchase is helping a cause you align with. Brand loyalty is partially based on how well the brand aligns with your personal beliefs and ethical principles. 

This holiday season, take the time to look for brands that are supporting social good. Ask yourself what social or environmental causes are most important to you, then seek out brands that align with your beliefs. 

3. Look For Environmentally Conscious Certifications

A great way to become a more environmentally conscious shopper is to look for seals and certifications on the packaging. These might include labels like USDA Organic, non-GMO, and Fair Trade. 

A company must go through a process of application, inspections and certification to add one of these labels to their products. Let’s talk about a few of these certifications and what they mean for you as a consumer.

FairtradeTM Certified

Fair trade was created as a way to help local artisans and small farmers receive fair value for their goods. Fair trade practices ensure farmers have more sustainable livelihoods. It promotes safe working conditions for workers and helps build self-sufficiency throughout communities.

As a consumer, when you see Fairtrade Certified products, you’ll know that you’re supporting the farmers and their communities fairly. At ORGANIC INDIA, we have a longstanding tradition of elevating environmental stewardship. That’s why our herbal teas carry the Fairtrade certification.

Certified B Corporations

Certified B Corp logo with uppercase B inside a circle.

Becoming a Certified B Corp is similar to becoming Fairtrade Certified. Companies that hold the Certified B Corp designation meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance. They encourage improvement for workers, work to help lower poverty levels, and help to create a healthier environment. In short, B Corps are a global movement of businesses united in being a force for good.

ORGANIC INDIA not only holds the B Corp certification but in 2018 and 2019 also won the “Best for the World Overall” certification. This designation is only awarded to the top 10 percent of all Certified B Corporations.

USDA Organic and Non-GMO

Black and white USDA Organic logo, check for this when doing your conscious holiday shopping.

From food to textiles to skincare products, you’ll find the USDA Organic seal displayed proudly on a multitude of items. A product with this label means that it was produced with natural ingredients using farming techniques that support biodiversity and soil health. In USDA Organic products, only limited amounts of USDA-approved pesticides are allowed and genetically modified organisms (or GMOs) are not allowed. 

Non-GMO Project Verified Logo, blue and green with orange butterfly.

A GMO is an organism whose genetic material has been altered through genetic engineering. Most countries around the world require GMO foods to be labeled. In the United States, manufacturers will be required to label products that contain GMOs by 2022. However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture works closely with the U.S.Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency to make sure GMOs are safe for humans, animals, and plants.  

At ORGANIC INDIA, we are committed to elevating environmental stewardship by incorporating practices like bio-regenerative, organic and non-GMO farming. Our products proudly display the USDA Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified seals. 

4. Reduce Your Carbon Footprint 

Another way to become a more socially responsible holiday shopper is to look for ways to reduce your carbon footprint. From product packaging to food and air travel, there are greener alternatives that are more environmentally friendly. If everyone implemented a few best practices, we could greatly reduce the amount of garbage we produce throughout the holidays. 

Recycling paper, plastics, and boxes is a good start, but what if you could also reduce the amount of these items you use? More and more, people are turning to thrift shopping and minimalism as a way to reduce their impact on the environment. 

Person in a thrift shop browsing used items for conscious holiday shopping.

Photo by Julien-Pier Belanger on Unsplash

Here are a few ways you can reduce your carbon footprint while shopping responsibly:

  • Embrace minimalism
  • Shop secondhand
  • Reduce the amount of gift wrap and paper you use
  • Send a holiday E-card or video message 
  • Buy high-quality products 
  • Buy carbon offset credits

If traveling is included in your holiday plans, consider driving instead of flying. If driving isn’t an option, you can pack lighter. If every air travel passenger packed one less pair of jeans, 59 tons of C02 could be saved. Just one less pair of jeans is enough to make a big difference! You can also look for an eco-conscious hotel, use E-tickets whenever possible, and explore the local area on foot or bike instead of driving. Your small actions really do add up. 

Conscious holiday shopping isn’t just about what’s under the tree. It’s about taking into consideration the impact your holiday shopping choices have on the environment. By implementing just a few of these tips you’ll become a more conscious consumer.  

An Eco-Conscious Holiday

This holiday season, challenge yourself and those around you to be mindful when shopping. Look for ways you can make the world a better place by shopping locally, reducing your carbon footprint, and supporting environmentally responsible brands. As anthropologist Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Make your first step to change the world with conscious holiday shopping.