As we come to the close of another trying year, we are considering how to make this a special time for loved ones. It’s no secret that we live in a hyped-up consumer culture that focuses on consuming more. At the same time, reducing consumption can have a big positive effect on the planet. It can also help us declutter to a more joyful life. What is one to do?

Recognize the secret power of shopping.

Your purchases have a secret power. How you spend your money can drive positive changes. While we are narrowly viewed and treated as consumers, we are much more.  We are global citizens. Our actions make a difference.  

Focus on gifts that bring joy and make the world better.

Let’s make some impactful changes to shopping for both your loved ones and the planet.  It can be a treasure hunt. With a keen eye, embark on the search for that special gift for someone.  The gift that brings joy and makes the world better. Here are some ways to get started.

Shop Green Companies.

Buy your gifts from companies with strong sustainability, social, and high-quality products. There are many companies making real strides in reducing waste, pollution, and harmful chemicals in products. Buying a gift from one of these companies is a wonderful way to introduce a loved one or friend to a great product they have not considered before. It can be a product with no single-use plastic and is chemical-free and made or sold by a business that treats its employees well. Go beyond “product advertising” to look under the covers. You need to be careful of  “greenwashing” (misleading claims by companies that their products or business are environmentally friendly).

Here’s our suggested list to get started.

When you shop at these companies, you join others who drive companies to more sustainable and equitable business practices. 

  • Reduce plastic in our waterways with a gift from For every bracelet or other gift you purchase, a pound of plastic is being removed from a waterway.
  • Plant more trees with a gift from For each purchase of a t-shirt or socks, ten trees are planted.
  • Reuse and recycle books with a gift from They have recycled and reused over 370 million books.
  • Chocolate with a reduced footprint with a gift from They are focused on sustainable practices and treating farmers well.
  • Sustainable Paper with a gift for the write from They have unique and sustainable paper products such as seed paper.
  • Fairtrade and environmentally conscience nuts and dried fruit for a healthy treat from
  • Sustainably grown coffee with a gift from or These are two of the many B-Corporations where you can have a cup of coffee and peace of mind.
  • Apparel and doing good – some options here are, and

Both the directory of B-Corporations from B-Labs and the directory of social enterprises from the Social Enterprise Alliance are powerful tools to change the way that we spend our money. You’ll also find more companies that care for people and the planet on our website under Stuff.  

Gift Experiences.

For many people, more stuff isn’t what they need. What can bring more joy is an experience. It could be dinner at a local farm-to-table restaurant, a museum membership, a sporting event ticket, or a gardening class at a botanical garden. Loving to learn and being social by nature, it only makes sense to give a gift of an experience to bring joy.

Experience Gift

When you gift an experience, you also support the local businesses and organizations that make a community vibrant.

Gifts of Nature.

It is a known fact that time in nature is good for us. So look for creative ways to share gifts of nature. Maybe you and your friend go for a “forest bath” in a nearby park. What about giving an annual pass to state or federal parks? Maybe gift a plant or a bird feeder to bring nature into the home? When you give a gift of nature, you support wellness and our parks and wildlife. 

Buy Second-Hand Goods.

One of the best ways to reduce waste is to shop thrift or second-hand. There is no need to put the extensive supply chain in motion to produce and ship a new product that will eventually be trashed. This treasure hunt approach will lead you to thrift stores, yard sales, vintage boutiques, online resale, and even sometimes trades with your neighbors. Once you have the item, you can clean it up and use your creativity to embellish it. When you gift a second-hand item, you are saving the planet and making a stand against our trash culture by giving something a second chance. 

Thrift Store
Give a Gift of Caring For Each Other.

In every community, people are struggling who need our help. Consider a donation to local charities that give toys to children, stock the local food bank, or help a local school. There are so many ways to support our communities. When you gift a donation that makes a difference for someone in your community, you are spreading joy. 

Support Local Businesses
Shop Local.

Every dollar you spend locally is the equivalent of $6 spent in the community. In your treasure hunt, seek out the local restaurant, shops, and businesses and spend your gift dollars there. When you shop locally, dollars grow in the community.

Wield your secret power.

Let your treasure hunt begin! The journey can be lots of fun. This year, shopping for and buying gifts does not need to be about more stuff.  Thoughtful gifting that is good for people and the planet is more rewarding for the giver and the receiver.  It makes the world a better place.