The holiday season marks the point of the year where many retail businesses begin to turn a profit for the fiscal year, and chances are you’ve helped some retail business along the way to getting into the black. But amongst the holiday consumerism madness, it seems we, as a country, lose sight of what the holiday’s are truly about. For the sake of sounding preachy, the holidays are a celebration of the people, friends and family, with whom we surround ourselves. Beyond family and friends, the holiday season is a celebration of our respective communities, and right now, America is seeing a new emphasis on community building.
Communities all over the country are becoming more solidified due to difficult financial times and an aging general population. 2010 saw the lowest relocation rate since the United States began tracking relocation rates in population surveys in 1948. One could argue that something good has come out of the financial depression; what began as a strictly food related movement, has grown to something that applies to all goods and services.
The local movement displays behavior that may seem like an act of financial sacrifice; that we must give up creature comforts that exist abroad in order to survive; but in reality, what we end with is a far more sustainable society. With more people staking into local communities and moving around less, suddenly we have created a healthier environment for small businesses. With strengthened communities comes community pride, and out of community pride comes local brand loyalty. Community members will buy locally produced and sold products to help support the community, which intern creates stronger small businesses. Thriving small businesses create jobs for the community. Ultimately, the community becomes a self-sustaining economic entity, less influenced by the rise and fall of the global markets.
Additionally, a localized economy helps reduce fossil fuel use from the transportation of goods which helps maintain a healthier global environment. Localized economies satisfy the triple bottom line of sustainability, being beneficial from economic, social, and environmental standpoints. We all have the opportunity to help make this holiday season more sustainable.
A more localized American life sets up an opportunity for citizens to help better their local communities while showing their appreciation for their loved ones. This holiday season, if you chose to buy gifts for your family and friends, buy them something from a local owned and operated business and put your money directly back into the local economy. If you do not live near a locally owned or operated business, buy your loved ones an experience gift; take your loved one to a movie, restaurant, sporting event, live theater event, or a concert. This type of gift can be just as special as a material gift because of how personalized and memorable the gift can be.
Experience gifts offer the same economic stimulus as a product from a local business but without the resource use of a material product. Ultimately, this is a better option for anyone trying to be environmentally conscience during the holiday season. If you have last minute holiday shopping, you don’t have to go far to get your friends and family something special. This holiday season, act locally, and think globally. Happy holidays!
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