5 Tips for Eco-Friendly Black Friday Shopping

Black Friday is just days away, and even if you don’t plan on plunging headfirst into the insanity of mass consumerism, it does represent the ‘official’ start to the holiday shopping season. So, as you prepare to search for the perfect green gifts for friends, relatives and co-workers, don’t let the general chaos of the whole process stop you from being your usual eco-friendly self. Here are a few quick green holiday shopping tips to keep in mind.

Remember the three W’s – who, where and what, as in “Who made it? Where did it come from? What’s it made out of?” Just because you’re in a hurry to get your shopping over with doesn’t mean you should forget about important things like whether the item is fair trade and/or made locally, or if it’s made from sustainable materials.

Cut back on the madness with a Secret Santa system. Instead of buying a gift for every single friend, family member and colleague, why not do the Secret Santa thing instead? It cuts way back on the amount of gifts everyone has to buy, so you’ll save money, resources and be able to put more thought into each gift. Establish a spending limit, pick names out of a hat and you’re set for a much more relaxing December.

Don’t forget your reusable bags! It’s all too easy to walk out the door with them and come home from a holiday shopping spree with dozens of plastic bags. Reusable bags are a really easy way to be green during the holiday season. And as a matter of fact, they make a great gift as well, so why not pick up some extras while you’re out?

Hit up the online sales. Yes, it’s true that the items you buy have to get to you one way or another, but shippers like UPS are far more efficient than the average consumer and that UPS truck is headed to your street anyway. And, if you buy several items from the same online store, you save packaging. Lots of online retailers will have major sales this weekend, giving you plenty of selection and eliminating the need to drive all over the place looking for that perfect gift.

Just stay home on Black Friday. Participate in ‘Buy Nothing Day’ in protest against mindless consumption, or try your hand at making some homemade gifts. But, especially given the current economic climate, no one can blame you if you’ve just got to get a couple must-have gifts at the greatest discount possible. Lessen the impact by carpooling, and give a wide berth to anyone with a crazy look in their eyes and a death grip on the last $99 flat-screen TV.

Image via Seattle PI

Stephanie Rogers is a fashion- and beauty-obsessed freelance writer with an abiding love for kale and organic wine, living in Asheville, North Carolina.