Monday, November 21, 2011

Sustainable Holiday Shopping

When completing your holiday shopping, do you consider the environmental impacts of your purchases? It is important to take into account not only the price tag of the products, but also the environmental and human health costs of these items.

GreenTV episode 110 discusses sustainable shopping with the Green Alliance and the Associate Director of the UNH Sustainability Academy.

The first thing to consider when holiday shopping is if our friends and relatives really need any more STUFF. Why not spend money on an enjoyable experience instead, such as tickets to a concert or sporting event? Another idea is a gift certificate to their favorite salon or even to a local farmers market. This type of present cuts down on waste production during the holidays, and can be even more personal and thoughtful than something from the mall.

Another factor to consider when shopping is how items are packaged. If possible, try to avoid buying products with excess packaging, especially plastic, that will just end up in our landfills, or worse, the ocean. And whenever possible, bring reusable bags to every store you visit instead of accumulating more plastic shopping bags!

In addition to the type of packaging, it’s important to consider what materials the items themselves are made from. Are the gifts on your list made out of recycled or local sources? A great example of this is Earth Tec, which recently opened a store in downtown Portsmouth. Much of their clothing is made from recycled plastic bottles!

You should also think about where you are shopping this holiday season. Do the stores have sustainable business practices? Are they a local company? Shopping locally cuts down on the carbon footprint of the products by greatly reducing transportation costs, and it contributes to the local economy. On November 26th, celebrate Small Business Saturday by shopping at your favorite local store. Visit their facebook page for more information and to find participating businesses in your area!

For more great local companies, eco-friendly goods, and recommended gift certificates, check out the Blue Ocean Society Holiday Gift Guide. Or even better, shop at the Blue Ocean Society store for marine creature adoptions, clothing, stuffed animals, photo notecards, and more!

In addition, you can join Blue Ocean Society and Historic New England for a Holiday Sale & Open House at the Gov. John Langdon House at 143 Pleasant St. in Portsmouth. A selection of gift items will be offered, including free gift wrapping with any purchase. There will also be refreshments and free tours of the house. These will occur on Sunday, Dec 4th from 12-4 pm and Thursday, Dec 8th from 4-7 pm.

For more information about our upcoming events, visit the Blue Ocean Society website. And feel free to add your own suggestions for sustainable shopping ideas or your favorite local businesses in the comments here or on Facebook or Twitter !

Good luck shopping sustainably and have a great holiday season!

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