With all the upheaval in the world today, our shopping habits have changed, are changing and will probably continue to change in the future.
Just a few years ago, the only way to shop was by physically walking into a store and choosing what we wanted to buy. Then along came those big shopping-from-home catalogues – if you remember them, you’re giving away your age here! Goodness knows how damaging their thousands of glossy pages were to the environment. Probably best not to go there…
But now, only a generation later, we can literally buy more or less exactly what we want by tapping on our phones or tablets a couple of times. There are, no doubt, plenty of downsides to this system, although with the events of this year stunning us all, shopping online has literally become a lifeline for many of us.
Being a bit old-school – or possibly a lot old-school – I do prefer to shop physically for certain items. Sure, buying the same tea bags you always buy from the store you always buy from is practical and often less expensive if we take into consideration fuel costs and time. But when I need a new pair of shoes, for example, I really do prefer to try them on first, rather than wait for them to be shipped and then often having to go to the post office to return them. Not always, but it happens.
With the shopping season of the year creeping up on us, the excitement and chaos of Christmas shopping isn’t going to be the same this year, even if the powers-that-be are promising that all will be back to ‘normal’ next month.
Budgets have been severely cut and buying hundreds of cheap stocking fillers may be a temptation that’s hard to resist but take a moment to consider the implications before you dive into poundland ..
- cheap stocking fillers are often plastic and mass-produced
- many get broken or discarded within days or even hours of the big day
- the extra refuse can, and probably will, end up in our already over-polluted oceans
- is this purchase putting more of my money into a CEO’s already huge bank account?
- are we really preparing our children for the future?
So, what’s the alternative? Well, as far as I can see ‘more’ isn’t always ‘better’.
When you buy 2 huge packets of cheap potato crisps for the price of one, isn’t that just a marketing ploy to get your family to eat more rubbish food? Those marketing experts know their stuff and cheap products are purposely targeted at families who are already on a tight budget. But we know all this, so back to this year’s Christmas list…
Rather than scribbling down names and quick gifts (e.g. “Aunt Mabel – bubblebath” ) consider the likes and dislikes of everyone on your list. Even if you just buy for your closest family members, not all of them may appreciate that family-sized box of chocolates…
- Gluten-free, dairy-free or even sugar-free products are always loved by those with dietary issues. Jams and chutnies are a favourite too.
- A framed print or an uplifting poem could help someone through a troubled time
- A handmade item of clothing, or a novelty lipstick case will be unique and could even be personalized.
- Handmade organic soaps and bath products are healthier and often beautifully packaged
So, I am writing this to help support small and local businesses who have been the worst hit in the business world – as they often are – and to encourage everyone to not only buy ‘green’ which is my usual rant (!) but also to explore the gift ideas that creative and talented folk are producing, because they are, after all, the people who live down your street and support your local economy.
For UK buyers, check out Home of The Mall – a new and exciting platform showcasing the best creations from small businesses in the UK. Not in the UK? Look at local business websites, etsy-style platforms or even Etsy itself. I have a few products on Etsy at the moment, but I’ll be changing them to Home of the Mall as soon as I get my act together!
Whether we’re stuck inside our ‘boxes’ or not, this is definitely the year to be thinking and acting outside the box, shopping small and supporting each other as much as we can.