Going green for the holidays

Sustainable living and supporting small businesses should remain a high priority during the holidays


Photo by Olivia Oeth

Mesh, a boutique in Shoppes of Legacy, adds to the small business community in Omaha. This fashion favorite provides affordable clothing for the perfect holiday gift while supporting the local economy.

Olivia Oeth, News Director

Americans depend heavily on the mass production of goods during the holiday season that only encourages the large scale destruction that corporate companies promote. Being sustainable during the holidays is increasingly important as the fight against a better earth continues. 

The route to sustainability is not always transparent, though. Many brands slap a “made sustainably” tag on their items without much thought, however, being viable is more than a flimsy piece of paper; the entire process is important for a completely green product. According to Forbes, wholesome methods of production are as important as the materials used. Important factors of production to look for are non-polluting processes, natural resources, conserving energy and is safe for the workers to be around. 

Fabrics to look for are natural fibers, such as cotton and silk, rather than the artificial sources of polyester, nylon and spandex. Synthetics are cheap, but that does not make them a worthwhile purchase. A natural product will not only make for a more unique gift, but will last a lifetime whereas artificial textiles become tattered easily.

During the winter months, everyone is focused on buying gifts with as much ease as possible. Large-scale corporations, specifically for clothing brands, have zero remorse for the earth if it affects their business. Business Insider states stores such as Forever 21 produce their clothing in mass quantities sourcing their cotton from Uzbekistan factories that use forced child labor to provide dirt cheap clothing using the most abled and nimble workers they can find. 

Shopping at local small businesses is not only commonly more sustainable but supports the local economy. Black Friday is a national day of sales around the holidays that makes most shoppers excited and anxious to not only find huge sales but finish their gifts. This only supports detrimental business practices that plague corporate America today. Rather than participating in this massive scheme, Small Business Saturday is a great alternative for more creative and thoughtful presents. According to American Express, Small Business Saturday started in 2010 to combat the unhealthy habits Black Friday enforces. Omaha is home to a wide selection of stores to support: the Bookworm, Mesh, Karma Koffee LLC. and the Benson Soap Mill are some local favorites.

Buying from small sellers is proven to be more appropriate for a sustainable lifestyle and supports the local economy. American Express also states that with approximately one dollar spent at a local business, 67 cents stays within the community. 

Massive operations are considerably detrimental to this community living. As stated by Green America, Amazon Prime is a cause of considerable setbacks to intentional living. The convenience of online shopping and fast shipping comes with a hidden and ugly price to pay. Not only are they largely powered by fossil fuels, but they contribute to excess cardboard waste and tear down small businesses.

Amazon has fought against taxes providing to local economies and discriminate against smaller companies using their website as a shopping source. There are guidelines for using the online store and strict ones at that. Anything promoting personal websites for checkout can shut out an entire business from running out of their nearly trillion dollar enterprise.

To give the best possible presents to loved ones, consider the environmental and local costs as well as the dent in the wallet. Plenty of gifts are available and affordable for a considerate shopper: reusable cotton pads, water bottles and homemade wool hats are practical for everyday life. An especially personalized gift could be a homemade organic beeswax candle with customized scents. 

A variety of products can be found when searching for the perfect gift. The footprint left on this earth will forever be important no matter how insignificant some actions may seem. There will never be a day where what people do will not matter in the progression of a greener planet. Starting small is the first step, but it’s the little things that can matter the most. Convenience does not equal efficiency when considering life after tomorrow.