Shopping sustainably and locally for the holidays is easier than you think

Horse is the community engagement specialist for The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board and lives in Sherman Heights. Follow her on Twitter @bellamayaross

I love shopping so much that I would consider it a hobby. But the chances that you’ll see me in a mall these days are slim to zero.

Because I’ve been spending my money almost exclusively in second-hand shops, local shops and sustainable retailers for years. And I’m not alone. In the US, the secondhand apparel market is growing eight times faster than the overall apparel market, according to the 2022 ThreadUp Resale Report.

As climate change inspires a consumption reckoning, it is becoming increasingly clear that American consumption as we know it is unsustainable. And nowhere is this more evident than on vacation.

Most people really just want to give their loved ones something they like – and that’s not going to be thrown away or returned. But what many don’t realize is that thoughtful gift giving can be a sustainability tactic in itself. According to the National Retail Foundation, Americans returned $101 billion worth of merchandise during the 2020 holiday season, and most of it ends up in landfills.

But it doesn’t have to end there. Buying local and used—or even making gifts yourself—can help you get more unique, sentimental, and sometimes affordable gifts, while also supporting your local business community and reducing your carbon footprint.

I’m not saying you have to trade your Black Friday Best Buy run for a trip to the thrift store, but adopting a more sustainable shopping philosophy this holiday season is probably easier than you think, and you, your gift recipients and everyone else will benefit planet.

Here are some simple ways you can make more sustainable choices and support your local businesses this holiday season:

Create lasting memories by giving away experiences

Why not invest in experiences for your loved ones rather than something physical? A gift card for a local brewery or restaurant is a great way to support your favorite local places (Kindred maybe?). Or for a more family-oriented option, consider a Balboa Park Explorer pass or San Diego Zoo membership.

Sometimes old is gold

People tend to think of thrift stores when I talk about thrift shopping, but there are plenty of curated on-site resale shops that require a lot less digging.

The San Diego Vintage Flea Market, held on Saturday December 3rd, is a personal favorite as it features a range of local vendors with offerings at various price points.

The Makers Arcade, taking place December 3rd and 4th in downtown San Diego, is another great opportunity to support local vendors.

Some of my other favorite curated resale stores in San Diego County in brief are Verbatim Books (North Park), La Loupe Vintage (University Heights and Normal Heights), Libélula Books & Co (Barrio Logan), Sea Hive Station (Point Loma), Flashbacks ( Encinitas, Carlsbad, and Hillcrest), Day to Day Vintage (North Park) for menswear, and Consignment Classics (various locations) for decor.

Gift thoughtful

In general, buying with an eye for quality over quantity will help your gifts last longer, no matter where you buy them. Don’t buy something just to buy something. If you’re feeling insecure, know I’m for gift cards – just accept that friends and family probably have a better idea of ​​what they want than you do.

I would also recommend starting shopping as early as possible. This gives you time to buy with intent and spread the cost, making it easier to support local businesses you love.

Get smart with it

You really can’t go wrong with a handmade gift. They’re sentimental, sustainable, adaptable to your budget, and can be a lot of fun.

If you’re not a smart person, just be honest with yourself and choose something simple. Homemade candles, for example, are easy and can be personalized with different scents and containers. (You can find unique and affordable ones at your local thrift store).

Baking, by the way, also falls into this category. It’s cookie time – make the most of it.

Reduce, reuse and recycle… gift wrap

Did you know that wrapping paper is the biggest source of holiday waste?

Every time you walk into a store and they hand you one of those cute little paper bags, keep them for the holidays. The same applies to postal packaging and tissue paper. If you are reading this in the print edition, I personally give you permission to use this newspaper as wrapping paper.

Inserting stickers and ribbons (which can be reused) is a way to keep it festive while avoiding store-bought packaging, which is often non-recyclable. But if you’re committed to the holiday look, there are plenty of recyclable wrapping paper options too.

I wish you a merry and sustainable Christmas season!

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