LIVING GREEN for Nov. 22, 2012

For Weekly SurgeNovember 19, 2012 

Think before you buy

Time to break out the already maxed-out credit cards, the uncomfortable walking shoes and the amount of patience you will need for the best part of the holidays – shopping for people who may or may not appreciate your shopping dedication. The dedication that may take you to four different Wal-Marts to find the right size or the right color or just the right gift. The dedication that made you think about the person you are buying the gift for and hoping they don’t already have it or hoping they will at least like it. Your dedication is probably the real gift for someone else, they just may not be aware of it.

Let’s think about another type of dedication: the dedication it takes to think consciously about a gift, where it comes from, who makes it and what is it worth? This is simply called being a responsible consumer. We are all consumers. We consume things such as food, clothing, products, fuel, etc. The question is: are our choices in our products the best for the environment, the best for our economy and the best for our country?

This holiday season, I challenge you to THINK before you buy.

Before you buy that piece of jewelry, ask yourself: where did it come from? who made it? is it made in the U.S.A.? Your conscience choices can make a difference for our economy and our country’s jobs, especially if we all make those choices together. Think about it - if we always buy products made in China or Japan, who gets the money for it? Whose jobs are we taking away by supporting products from other countries? One of the best things you can do is support something called Made in the U.S.A., where products are supporting your friends and neighbors by giving them an opportunity in the workforce. This may seem hard when some items are less expensive because they are mass-produced in some overseas factory. But then, think about the quality of the gift for someone else if you were to invest a little bit more for them. Go for quality over quantity. Another thing would be to buy products that have the least amount of impact on our environment, avoiding such toys that have massive amounts of packaging and that are made in another country.

I have created a simple holiday guide to help you make better choices in your holiday shopping this year:

Local Stores:

Groovy Green Glass - www. GroovyGreenGlass.com - a Myrtle Beach company owned by a husband and wife that recycle glass bottles from local bars and restaurants and transform them into works of art, jewelry and home goods. GroovyGreenGlass@gmail.com

Abiding Village - www.abidingvillage.org – a community arts and dance studio with plenty of recycled art for sale; 2997 Waccamaw Blvd., Myrtle Beach; 236-3983

Recycled Rooster –www.facebook.com/recycledrooster - a locally-owned second-hand store with some of the best choices in jewelry, handbags, shoes and clothing. University Commons across from Coastal Carolina University; 347-0518

Random - www.randomclothier.com – a hipster store with items that are vintage, homemade, local, etc.; The Market Common, 449-9065

Second-Hand Stores – our area has lots of great second-hand stores for your treasure-hunting desires and believe it or not, holiday shopping needs. If you are looking for kids items, try Once Upon a Child in Surfside Beach, 650-2229; The Clothesline in Conway, 365-4011; or Rug Rats in Myrtle Beach, 215-8701. For teens, try Plato’s Closet in Myrtle Beach, 650-5003. Then there are bunch of consignment shops throughout the area, such as New For You Consignments in Surfside Beach, 238-2177 and Yaya’s Consignment in Conway, 488-9292. For a list of more shops, go to www.thethriftshopper.com for stores near you.

Chambers of Commerce – contact your town’s chamber of commerce for a list of locally-owned stores that may have great holiday shopping options or special holiday festivals.

Online Shopping:

Hipcycle.com – An up-cycled online store that sells anything from housewares, clothing and bags to jewelry, office products and garden items. You can shop gifts by material, such as bike parts, fabric, chopsticks, e-waste, railroad parts, tires, wine barrels, silverware, etc.

Etsy.com – An online marketplace for handmade items, such as jewelry, clothing, vintage, etc. You can find just about anything on Etsy because a lot of it comes from one-of-a-kind artists that hand-make all of their items.

Vine.com – Everything has high green standards on this Web site. You can shop thousands of vine-reviewed products from health and beauty to groceries and pet accessories, which are reviewed to make sure the products are either organic, natural, energy-or-water efficient, run on renewable energy or are made from sustainable materials or contribute to a healthier home. All these green products are available with fast, free delivery and no-hassle returns, which everyone hopes for, especially during the holiday season.

Other Ideas:

Crafty Friends – do you have some friends that make really cool things? Scarves, blankets, frames, etc. Give them a call and find out if they are willing to sell you custom craft pieces, which can make really great personal gifts.

Baked Goods – the holidays are all about eating, so why not bake something as a gift. About five years ago, I got into the habit of baking homemade, from scratch soft ginger cookies for my grandpa. He loved it and so did everyone else, so they have become my holiday tradition.

Photographs – people like pictures and I’m talking about real printed pictures, not just your Instagram or Facebook ones. Take the time to print out some of your best family photos and have them framed as a gift. Go one step further and go find a homemade frame.

Gift Cards and Household Chores – if someone is hard to buy for, try a gift card and let them decide for themselves. Or maybe try offering something different this season, such as helping someone in their yard, cleaning their house or cooking them dinner.

Jennifer Sellers is the sustainability coordinator at Coastal Carolina University and offers her eco-views at her blog, mygreenglasses.com. Contact her at jen@mygreenglasses.com.

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