Over the years, SCOCO has written up some helpful gift giving guides, such as our 2020 holiday gift guide and our 2019 holiday gift guide.
Here we go again! This year, it's especially helpful to shop locally and give experience gifts, considering the global supply chain issues causing shortages of goods and delivery delays. And goods aren't always "good." In fact, 99% of consumer goods sold in the USA are trashed within 6 months of purchase. (Read more about this by logging into cleanercontracosta.org and searching for circular economy.) When you buy locally, you also skip the packaging (log in to read link) which saves on waste. We've all read about plastic waste building up in our oceans and hurting marine life. Even though cardboard and paper are recyclable, they still use energy during the recycling process to create new paper and cardboard.
Good: So if you go directly into a store to buy an item, you are already doing better than buying online.
Better: Wrap it in a gift bag that can be used over and over again vs. wrapping paper.
Best: Avoid buying a product and instead buy an experience gift that benefits local businesses or artists.
For example, for the beer lover in your family, you could buy a gift card to do some beer tasting at any of these breweries in Contra Costa, including Calicraft Brewing in Walnut Creek, Headlands Brewing in Lafayette, Canyon Club Brewery in Moraga, and Five Sons Brewing in Martinez. For your earthiest friends and family members, a gift certificate or an item from these sustainable stores will be highly appreciated: Resourcefill and Hollie's Homegrown in Lafayette or Mighty Market in Martinez. In general, you can choose to support Green Businesses by searching for them within your zip code.
Some of my personal favorite gifts to give and receive are tickets to a comedy show, art exhibit or concert. My husband and I went on an amazing food tour of Rockridge through Local Food Adventures, which hopes to start in person tours again in Spring 2022. And if you need event ideas, Goldstar events will send you a weekly or monthly list of events going on in your area. (Be sure to book directly through the business, though, as sites like Goldstar take a cut of the proceeds.) These types of experience gifts will stand out in a person's brain much more than those reindeer pajamas.
But if you do go shopping, shop locally and remember to bring your own bags!