The holiday season has officially begun. In December, there’s a holiday for everyone; Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah are just a few. Many involve gifts or giving back in some way, and lucky for us, there are many ways to give back to loved ones and support the world around us. 

Support Local 

One of the major ways to help this holiday season is to support your local shops and restaurants, especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. When thinking about what to give to loved ones, consider shopping local or small instead of from big chain stores. There are several ways you can do this while staying safe. 

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Shop local. Do as much shopping local as you can, from food, to gifts, to gift-wrapping, to decor. Local businesses are having a rough time right now with restrictions, and what better way help your neighbors than by supporting them for all your gift-giving needs? 

Buy gift cards. Not sure what your loved ones would like from local shops? Buy them a gift card to use later. This cuts down on the time you’re in stores, while also making sure you get just the right gift. 

Buy online. Buying online opens up the possibilities endlessly, especially with websites like Etsy that have small sellers across the globe. Etsy also offsets all the carbon released through their shipping by investing in projects that decrease carbon emissions. So, you’re helping small sellers, staying safe, and helping the environment. 

Get take-out. Support your local restaurants by getting take-out during the holidays. This time of year, there are a lot of busy days and early dark nights; cooking can mean a lot of effort we might not have. So, get take-out, and give back to your neighbors. 

Volunteer and Donate. 

Volunteer, anywhere: the local soup-kitchen, a shelter, handing out food and necessities to those less fortunate, a forest cleanup. Everywhere has organizations that need help reaching people, you just need to look. Additionally, maybe a loved one has an environmental concern or organization near and dear to them that could use support. 

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Here are some national ones that are probably around you, and if they’re not, you can always donate: 

Arbor Day Foundation plants trees around the U.S., in more than 3,000 communities. Tree City USA can help you see if they’re planting around you. 

Earth Guardians helps train the youth of the world about environmental issues and their solutions, with a focus on leadership skills to use in campaigning movements. They learn how to use art, music, and storytelling to create change. 

American RIvers is a nationwide organization organizing river cleanups. Their goal is simple: protection, restoration, and conservation of rivers around the country. It includes clean up, removal of dams, and reducing pollution. You can volunteer or donate here

VolunteerWorld is a great resource to find volunteering opportunities abroad; take a look and maybe you’ll find an experience that would be rewarding to you and a loved one. 

Shop Smart 

There are many online sellers who support the environment in various ways, whether it be through donating proceeds to creating environmentally friendly products. 

woman standing selecting clothes

Mermaid Straws sells reusable straws, as one would guess. Not only do they sell the straws though, they also educate on why single-use plastics are harmful, and promote beach cleanups around them. These straws would make a great stocking stuffer for anyone. 

EarthHero brings all eco-friendly things together into one shop for easy shopping. They have starter packs for zero-waste, decor, clothing, make-up, and even bluetooth speakers. They work with companies working to decrease their carbon footprint, redesigning production to be cleaner, and using eco-friendly materials. With a mission of making eco-friendly commerce normal and a great catalog, they’re a company we should be supporting. 

4Ocean is another great organization that can help you out with some cool stocking stuffers. Their Harp Seal beaded bracelet is made of recycled plastic and for each bracelet sold, the 4Oceans crew pulls a pound of plastic out of the ocean. Their organization also hosts beach clean ups, makes donations to ocean conservation efforts, and creates environmental lesson plans for educators across the country.

5Gyres sells and curates products that help you reduce your dependence on plastics and single-use items, including this zero waste kit. The 5 Gyres Institute is a leader in the movement against plastic pollution, conducting research expeditions, bringing together scientists, business leaders, and non-profit organizations alike to collaboratively create solutions against pollution. Making a purchase from their shop helps support their mission to end plastic pollution and promote scientific research around the issue.

At the end of the day, being mindful of where we shop is a necessity. During the holidays, especially this year, it’s even more important to support locals and support the environment. Every action helps, even shopping green.