It's a tricky time of year for those of us who want to consume less, but still want to be respectful and reciprocal to those loved ones who insist on buying us presents. This year's season is also tricky in a different way, as buying nothing means buying nothing from local, sustainable businesses who are already suffering from the economic downturn.
If you're taking this chance to cut back or go DIY, then we applaud you for it. But for those who are going to shop and spend, remember that local businesses do need our support. Buying this way keeps more of your dollar circulating in your local economy, helping small businesses to keep their doors open and their employees paid.
Several local business districts are currently campaigning to get residents to spend their money where they live. We've seen examples in Ballard, and in this Sustainable Connections campaign covering NW Washington. Our allies at Sustainable Seattle have also posted a new intiative to Celebrate Local.
Taking a role in supporting local businesses isn't limited to filling bags with new stuff. This week, a program called Seattle City Stimulus is helping independent businesses join forces to bounce back from the economic slump. The four-day extravaganza will feature special offers from neighborhood businesses all over Seattle where crowds can celebrate "the local and the curated, the innovative and the hand made." You can download a free card on the website to gain access to events Thursday through Sunday (Dec. 4-7) at unique Seattle coffeehouses, restaurants and pubs as well as shops.
Buying for buying's sake is rarely sustainable, but when you do seek gifts or goods, buying local is a way to invest in your community while encouraging many of the qualities that make dense environments exciting and livable. So if you must buy, buy local, and patronize independent producers who share your desire for responsibly produced products. (Note: as we've said before, just because it says local doesn't mean it is. Be sure to ask if a store or product meets your standards.)
So what do you think? Is it better to buy nothing or to buy local? Please share your thoughts, and let us know what's going on with local businesses in your own neighborhood!
Photo credit: flickr/M. V. Jantzen, Creative Commons license.