Support Local This Holiday Season

It’s the holidays, and consumerism is at an all-time high. Big corporations thrive at this time of year, and brand loyalty certainly helps this process. Often the products we purchase for the holidays are mass-produced items that are shipped overseas and sold globally. Shopping local this holiday season is a great way to ensure you get unique items for your loved ones, while also doing something good for your community, the economy and the environment.

There are many benefits to supporting local this holiday season. Various aspects of holiday spending can be done locally. From gifts, stocking stuffers, decorations, treats and even dinner — all found at local farmers’ markets, holiday market booths and small businesses. Imagine filling your table with dishes made from local produce, grown in your community. Not only do you get to experience a human connection with the producer that you don’t receive in large corporate grocery stores, but often produce at farmers’ markets are cheaper than produce shipped from overseas. Just last week I was able to buy strawberries for only $2.50 at a farmers’ market when the grocery store was selling them for $6.99. Another important factor in shopping local is the reduction in environmental impact as produce is grown locally. Packaging is also reduced as farmers’ markets don’t wrap their produce in plastic much like grocery stores.

Photo via Unsplash

Buying gifts for loved ones locally also reduces your environmental impact. Firstly, you are not supporting the large name clothing brands that often exploit third world countries for their cheap labor, and treat their workers unfairly. Mass-produced items for companies such as H&M, Zara and Forever 21 (RIP), are made with planned obsolescence. Items are made with cheap materials with the idea that they will soon break and become obsolete. The strategy was developed to generate long-term customers and an increase in sales by reducing the duration before customers return, increasing repeat purchases. The fast-fashion industry is the biggest contributor to textile waste in landfills, which takes up 10 percent of the global carbon impact. When you support local you are supporting fair work environments (hopefully fair trade) and receiving products made with quality materials that are not made to be broken in landfills. 

When you purchase something from a large company, you are paying for another CEO to buy another luxury car, but when you shop local, you are paying for a family to give their child dance lessons or a hobby that triggers a passion in them and maybe even a career. Shopping local supports the economy of your town as more money is put back into your community helping your community thrive.

Photo via Alina Grubnyak

How do you shop local? Well, you can try chocolate from a local chocolatier, bread from a local bakery, cookies, pies and desserts from local bakeries (think Kensington market area), produce from a farmers’ market, stocking stuffers like bath bombs or lotions from a local booth at a market (or sold in an artisan market), handmade scarves and hats; just to name a few.

What are the downfalls of shopping local? Well, although you are supporting your community and purchasing original products, sometimes the price of items can be higher in comparison to mass produced items. For example, chocolates from a chocolatier are savory and made with quality ingredients, but a box of chocolates may be pricier than chocolate at the grocery store you go to or Walmart. Although the nature of shopping local is kind at heart, it does seem to cater to those who are wealthier and can afford to support it.

Photo via Sylvia Zhou

If you want to support local or reduce your environmental impact this holiday season, but you keep finding yourself looking at stores such as H&M for their cheap prices, why not try a thrift store? There are of course big name thrift stores such as Value Village, but there are also a lot of local thrift stores as well that are not big corporations. There is the Black Market, St. John’s Thrift Store, and even Courage My Love in Kensington. Supporting a local thrift store is a great way to still get the prices you love, but also support your community and reduce your environmental impact as well. 

Another great way to support local but with a good price is to buy gift cards for loved ones for a lunch or dinner out. Gift cards for a local restaurant are a great way for you to spend as much money as you are able to, but still support the community. 

Here is a list of local shops to check out below!

  1. Craft Ontario Shop (ceramics, art, jewelry)

  2. Bunners (gluten-free bakery in Kensingtons)

  3. Arts Market Toronto (artisan products) 

  4. The Artisans (hats, pillows, decor)

  5. Chocolateria (chocolates)

  6. Riviera Bakery (bread, pastries, cookies, pies)

Sometimes we may want name brand items for the holiday’s, and that’s okay. We can find a balance between supporting local businesses, and supporting the big name brands we love. I encourage you to try and support local in whatever way you can, and have access to this holiday season. Happy holidays!