The usual Black Friday shopping madness has ensued, with crowds flocking to stores at 4 AM or earlier for that once in a lifetime deal. I understand the need to save money, and part of me is glad if this means the economy is getting less gloomy but the whole Black Friday thing still strikes me as a little crazy. Rather than a sign of a healthy economy, it feels like a continued symptom of the craziness of the consumer economy, spending money we can’t afford on things we don’t really need. It seems like there’s a better way to go, as found by a report from BBMG on “conscious consumers” with a growing interest in more creative gift-giving that fits with desire to build a better world. While the broader public was lining up at the stores at 4AM, 42% of the conscious consumers plan to spend more this year on eco-friendly gifts that vary from standard holiday shopping in cool green ways:
1. Spending Less but Giving More
While conscious consumers are still planning to spend less overall this year, they are buying more gifts that include donation to others, from companies that have defined programs for giving back to philanthropic causes. One way to support giving is to make purchases with those that participate in 1% For the Planet for example, donating 1% of their profits to a variety of causes. Another option is always to make a charitable donation directly to your favorite cause or someone else’s cause in their name.
2. Getting Crafty
More than half of conscious consumers are planning to make gifts like food, clothing, or crafts this year. This trend is clearly part of the shift from the consumer to conserver economy, returning to gifts that really mean something. Buying handmade crafts from sites like Etsy is also increasingly popular, helping craftsman around the world. Another example is Bazura Bags, made by a women’s cooperative in the Philippines from upcycled juice pouches and sold by Zola Goods.
3. Giving Experiences
Creating a new tradition, more people are choosing to give experiences as gifts, with tickets to events, travel, or entertainment for example. A gift like this doesn’t end up in the attic or the landfill, and the memories can be priceless.
4. Vintage and Used gifts
Vintage and used goods can be a huge value, allowing people to do more and give more for less, stretching their money a lot farther. You can even swap through sites like Swap.com, getting goods for almost free. The items may not be shrinkwrapped, but how much is shrinkwrap really worth?
5. Thinking Globally and Buying Locally
While it might not seem like goods are produced locally any more, I’ve got a feeling that plenty of small businesses in your area would beg to differ. Many of these are connected to larger causes, and supporting local businesses strengthens your community. You can give a membership to a local CSA (community supported agriculture) helping local farmers and guaranteeing a steady supply of fresh healthy produce, for example, or find unique gifts at your farmer’s market.
Glenn Croston is the author of “75 Green Businesses” and “Starting Green”, and the founder of Starting Up Green, helping businesses to go green and grow green. He is also the co-creator of the Home Sustainable Challenge, helping people everywhere join the growing conserver economy. You can reach him at email@example.com.
Photo: Joakim Jardenberg under the Creative Commons License on flickr.com.