Being a Conscious Consumer this Holiday Season.

It’s upon us, the season of celebration filled with joy and gathering. As we embrace a time of giving and receiving, I’d like to suggest we approach it with intention and care. I mean many things by this, but primarily the predictable suggestion to consciously consume and give with purpose. Before I dive into this particular topic, I’d like to address another important and often overlooked aspect of practicing intentionality during these beautiful, but hectic months.

Please take care of yourself. Purchasing and giving with thought and intention requires energy, as does hosting and attending, cooking and eating, shopping and wrapping, and everything else that comes with the festivities. I think we should choose to be intentional with how we spend our time, both with our self and with the others in our life. Beyond that, I urge us to each approach our interactions with family and friends with kindness. The holiday season is filled with so much good, but it can also bring stress and be overwhelming to many. Patience may be the greatest gift we can give one another.

As we enter the season with patience for loved ones, here’s another suggestion: let’s also approach gift giving with patience as well. I’ll back up here and acknowledge that many people are tasked with the impossible pressure of buying gifts for every friend, immediate and extended family member, school teacher, mailman, and so on. Whether this pressure is internal or external, it becomes a lot. However, it may be possible to reevaluate this, or to implement other love languages this holiday season. A handwritten card often means more than any physical gift, and an evening spent in the company of a good friend making memories and laughing is a similarly touching gift. Acts of service, quality time, words of affirmation, and touch are all viable, and beautiful, gifts to give those you love. Before making your holiday purchases, pause and practice patience. Assess whether this is something they need or want. Or, would they prefer a genuine hug, a card, and the bliss of your company?

And yet, I know that many will still opt for physical gifts, which is completely understandable. So, how can we approach these gifts with an intent to do good, create less waste, and not break the bank? I have a few ideas.

  1. First, shop local. Handmade, local gifts can hold special meaning for many. Check out places like Ruby’s Market, Edgewater Public Market, the Holiday Bazaar markets, and neighborhood shops.
  2. Second, shop second hand. While time may be limited, often an hour at Goodwill, Rags, or another neighborhood second hand shop can yield impressive gifts.
  3. Third (and my favorite), shop experiences. Denver offers various classes, seek one out! There are shops for teaching jewelry making, welding, candle making, cooking, pottery, dancing, etc. What a beautiful gift to give. It will both teach a skill and cultivate memories. Similarly, gift cards to local restaurants and shows are amazing gifts.
  4. Fourth, shop practical.  Instead of purchasing what you want to give, buy what people want to receive. Even if it’s socks, it’s less wasteful and it’s meaningful to validate someone’s wants and needs. Life is expensive, and speaking personally, getting something I need is very exciting and such a relief.

I apologize for the lengthy message, although I’m sure you’re all becoming accustomed to my writing style. Our team is passionate about waste reduction and conscious consumption, which is why I offered so many suggestions. Now, I’ll step aside and allow my colleagues to share their insight before we dive into Slow Food updates. May your holiday season be filled with cheer and joy. Keep an eye out for our December newsletter, where we will introduce many new and exciting things to you all!

Thanks for reading! This was written by our Programs and Outreach Coordinator, Mary (me). Please read on to hear a bit from the rest of our staff!

Our Staff’s Perspective:

Gabriella: While gift giving can be a highly personalized experience, I am a fan of making things that reflect my desire to encourage thoughtful consumption as gifts to give everyone in my life. Every year, my partner and I make a large quantity of one thing to give to our friends and family. In the past, some of our gifts have been homemade soaps, homemade beeswax wraps, and homemade canned green tomatoes and jam. I never buy wrapping paper and always use old newspapers or cloth and string to wrap my gifts.

Lilly: My favorite gifts to give are often homemade and food related, whether they are jams or applesauce from my garden or nuts roasted with honey and spices. Lately, I have been propagating plants and we’ll be potting those up to give in pretty pots. In addition, I love giving gift cards to the Zero Market with maybe a small packaged tea from there. We buy the majority of our bath & household items from the Zero Market and I feel people should experience it hands on to understand how much you could actually reduce your plastic use at home. Speaking of experiences, I love giving (and receiving) outings with friends to places like Rosy Rings where we can gather to create something like a candle. This year a couple of my loved ones will be getting the Snail Trail passport along with a couple of gift cards to the restaurants in the dining passport that I feel they should try first.

Annie: For Christmas each year my partner and I adopt a family. This year we went through Denver Inner City Parish for our Adopt a Family.  We have also partnered with Denver Children’s Home in the past.  Both amazing organizations with an incredible community to support.  We are provided lists with items each family member wants for the holiday.  This takes the stress and guesswork out of the holiday shopping experience.  It’s highly rewarding to give back to our community at a time of year that highlights the giving spirit.

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