Think before you buy for green holidays

Posted November 8th, 2011 by Jessica Haney in Green, Living, Uncategorized

As the holidays approach, there will probably be a lot of consumption of goods beyond the norm. How can you keep things under control so that they don’t dent your wallet or the landfill too badly?

Make lists.

It’s so tempting to stock up on stuff you think you might need but then never use. Then, if you don’t want to throw it away or risk donating it somewhere it can’t be used so will be tossed, and you don’t have the time to post every little item on Freecycle or Craigslist (even if it’s in the Free section!), then you just end up with a whole lot of extra clutter in your house.

Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything.

If you have a running wish list and need list, you’ll be more likely to make wise decisions in a timely manner instead of rushed ones you regret (or finding yourself scrounging your pantry).

For example, if last time all you had to offer your guests were glossy squares emblazoned with “You’re two!” whose color rubbed off on everyone’s chins, put napkins on your list and you’ll feel comfortable picking up those lovely cloth ones when you see them. Stock up on a new set of glasses if yours are too fragile and you find yourself always opting to buy disposable. A friend of mine recently hosted a birthday party with metal straws, which were a big hit. An investment, sure, but then you have them forever. Or close.

If you don’t make lists, you might end up buying some crappy cheap-o version at the last minute when you really could have picked up one that was made with fair trade practices when you were at Ten Thousand Villages last week. Or while you were making a big online purchase, and you could have combined for less fossil fuel burning.

If decorative touches are lacking, put them on your list and give yourself permission to buy the pretty handmade item directly from an artisan at a craft fair rather than going with factory-made plastic from thousands of miles away. Support the livelihood of someone you can look in the eye when you hand over your credit card. I love the glass-blown pumpkin I bought at Glen Echo and the felted wool squash I got at the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival. And the candle holder my son made at a Waldorf school fall festival is pretty cool too! Put decorations on your rainy day activity list!

If you’re expecting lots of visitors or just like to buy in bulk while at home in your jammies, consider joining a co-op or buying club like Frontier Wholesale Co-op. This is a great way to stock up on things like Seventh Generation toilet paper, Frontier organic spices, and Kiss My Face soap. They also have a whole lot of other stuff at great prices, including some kitchen accessories, essential oils, cleaning products, and bleach-free feminine hygiene products and Diva cups. If you’ve got a new baby or live far from stores, it’s a great deal to get free shipping if you order more than $250.

Most living green and living frugally often comes down to thinking things through ahead of time. So don’t follow my example of buying some nasty foam stickers at the last minute in case we had more Trick-or-Treaters than we had organic lollipops I bought at the next-to-last minute. Order your pastured turkey from a local farmer now and get your amenities in order for the relatives while there’s still time to do it in a smart way.

And then tell the rest of us how that worked out for you.

Jessica Claire Haney is all about living naturally — most of the time. She blogs at Crunchy-Chewy Mama.

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