Have the best of intentions to shop sustainably this holiday season, but don't know how? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many of us still struggle with this, especially at such a chaotic time of year. With that in mind, we thought this topic would be a great one to tackle. After all, sustainability underpins all our activities at Click & Grow and every product we make.
So, without further ado, here are a few tips to help you shop more sustainably this holiday season and beyond!
Make a list and stick to it
How many times have you gone shopping without a shopping list? Hundreds of times? To be fair, it’s something we’re all guilty of. Maybe it’s time shopping lists came back in style!
A shopping list has three virtues. First, it saves time; you don’t wander around the store trying to figure out what to buy. Second, it saves money; you don't buy impulsively. And third, it reduces waste - that’s a big one, especially when it comes to food shopping for the holidays.
Here’s a simple idea - why not write a separate shopping list for each meal you’ll cook? For instance, if you’re making a pizza, write down everything you need for that pizza: flour, water, yeast, salt, olive oil, tomato sauce. Then buy only what you need for that pizza - no more and no less.
All the planning in advance will keep you from overbuying. It’ll also remind you to check what you already have at home before going to the store. If you’re using a Click & Grow indoor garden, you have the added advantage of being able to grow some ingredients for meals at home, reducing your carbon footprint even further.
Ask for no gift wrap
It might seem like a small thing, but if you're buying a gift, one easy way to be greener is to skip the wrapping paper. If you ask for no gift wrap at a store, they'll just put your present in a bag. That way you can reuse the bag next year.
It's an easy way to save some paper and maybe some plastic too, which you'll want to do because plastic isn't very reusable. It turns out that about 50% of all plastic is single use plastics (and disposed of within minutes). That means a lot of them end up in landfills or floating in rivers and oceans before they even get used once for their intended purpose.
At Click & Grow we’re working towards going plastic free in our packaging. Currently our 9-packs and mixes come in carton packaging made of 36% recycled material which is even safe to compost at home (providing you remove the color-printed sticker!) Our 3-packs will soon come in carton packaging too.
Wrapping a present in pretty paper was a great idea when most things were made of cloth and needed protection from dust. Now most things come in boxes that have been designed for shipping and have handles and can bear being dropped on the floor.
A lot of wrapping is just waste, and this waste has consequences: more trees cut down, more greenhouse gases from trucks driving all over with no goods in them, and more garbage when the paper isn't recycled.
Support Fair Trade companies
It’s encouraging to know there are companies who are making an effort to reduce their environmental impact - for example by reducing waste or energy use or by paying fairly for raw materials. They may not be perfect, but at least they’re trying.
Caution must be taken, though. The word ‘sustainable’ usually just refers to how a company's forests are certified, not whether it offers its workers good wages or treats them well. So look for the label ‘Fair Trade’.
Fair trade companies pay higher wages to their workers, which means at first glance their products will cost more than conventional ones. The higher prices, however, reflect better working conditions and better quality goods. This means you’ll probably end up buying less over time.
The extra money goes straight back into poor communities in developing countries, instead of lining the pockets of shareholders or CEOs. When buying a fair trade item, you can feel better about the money you spend.
You can find fair trade companies and sustainable brands online. The easiest way to do this is to use the database at the World Fair Trade Organization. When you buy products that are Fair Trade certified, you’re not only getting a great gift, you’re also supporting small farmers, workers, and artisans around the world.
Drive less and buy local
By shopping locally and supporting local businesses, you're helping to reduce your carbon footprint. That's because shipping goods from one place to another burns a lot of energy. It’s staggering to think that the average American meal travels more than 1,500 miles before it gets eaten.
Growing some of your own food in a Click & Grow indoor garden is also an easy way to be more eco friendly. By growing some of your own ingredients at home, you’re eliminating the need for vehicles to transport your food.
Whether we realize it or not, holiday shopping habits are a major source of greenhouse gases. Every time we get in the car (or have goods transported for us) we contribute to global warming. It’s not inherently wrong to buy bananas from Honduras or coffee from Ethiopia or toys from China or sweaters from Peru or flowers from Colombia, but those things will have a bigger impact on the planet than if you buy local food and gifts.
Shopping responsibly means buying something the recipient will use and enjoy for a long time.
Recyclable and reusable gifts are important, but they're just the bare minimum of good sustainability. If you're going to go through the trouble of giving someone a gift, make sure it's a gift they’ll use and enjoy for a long time - not just until next week.
The best gifts are often the most personal ones: pick something meaningful that they’ll cherish. This idea is super important to us at Click & Grow which is why we’ve created gift guides for the various personalities in your life. We make indoor gardens that are built to last - a gift that your loved one can enjoy for years to come.
Give experiences to your loved ones
Too often the physical gifts we give eventually go to waste and contribute to pollution. But who says you need to get every person on your list a physical gift? Don’t make the mistake of thinking that stuff is better than experiences.
We all value experiences in the moment, and most of us regret not being able to have more special experiences. Experience is different from physical things in the sense that they’re more valuable. It's the difference between knowing something and seeing it happen. When you give someone an experience, you’re giving them a memory they will have forever.
One easy way to turn material goods into an experience is to buy something that can be used together with other people. For instance, a Click & Grow indoor garden gives parents an activity they can do with their kids or it gives couples a fun hobby to share together.
Experiences don't just have to be social either. Maybe your loved one really wants to learn how to cook an authentic Indian dinner, or has always wanted to go on a whale-watching trip, or wants to start learning how to play the piano. Or maybe you’d like to learn how to tango or speak French or play golf - you can give yourself an experience by taking lessons!
The holiday season is a busy time of year, but shopping conscientiously doesn’t have to be difficult. Hopefully, the tips above will provide you with some helpful ideas as you plan your own holiday shopping. By making some smart decisions, it’s possible for you to shop more sustainably without sacrificing your holiday spirit!