November 16, 2018
4 Ways You Can Help Marine Mammals (and Be More Eco-Friendly) With Your Holiday Shopping
By Lauren Fritz
Whale Watch Naturalist and Conservation Blogger at The Greenest Blue
As you start to scribble down your holiday shopping lists this season, make sure you aren’t forgetting one of the most important members of your family - Mama Earth. How are you going to give back to her this year? She deserves just as much love as everyone else, and the sad truth is she isn’t really getting it. Are you curious how you can make a difference for the environment this holiday season - and help to promote the conservation of your favorite marine mammals - all while enjoying the same family time and good cheer that you do every year?
I want to show you how easy it can be to use your purchasing power to show the planet some love instead of falling into the same consumerist cycle of holidays past (cough…Black Friday). Ditch the crowded malls, the crazy shopping frenzies, and the slew of wasteful packaging. There’s a better way!
I’m not trying to claim that I am a perfect eco-friendly holiday angel, myself. But as a whale watch guide, I am constantly exposed to current, very tangible marine conservation issues and am definitely feeling the need to add a little more green to my celebrations this year. For me, this means stepping away from my old ways of gift-giving and focusing on some of the other sources of the “warm-fuzzies” that make the holidays so special: time with loved ones, celebrations of memories and laughter over good food, and the chance to slow down and reflect back on our year.
Gift-giving is a tradition that many of us have been surrounded by since we were little, and as we’ve grown up, we’ve continued to hand over our credit cards in the pursuit of the perfect gift for our loved ones, often at costs to our environment that we may not have considered before.
Like I said, there is a different way! Don’t fret. You can have it all - holiday cheer and eco-awareness, without all the mental effort and guilt. It can be much simpler if you stop to think for a minute about your gifting options and also why you’re gifting. Are you buying expensive presents because you think it will impress someone? Most of the time, your loved ones are just happy to be spending time with you. There are other ways to show that special person how much you care. For me, time is one of the greatest treasures. However, I do think there is a time and a place for a well-thought out purchased gift.
Below, I’ve shared four of my favorite tips for how to green-ify your holiday shopping, shed the guilt, and be good to the planet and our amazing marine mammals.
#1 Shop Small - Support Your Local Businesses
This is a great way to support your local economy and show your enthusiasm for businesses with morals and ethics that you can stand behind. Don’t fall for those gimmicky items in the big department stores that will most likely be added to the piles of clutter in the recipient’s basement and become more “stuff.” Local products do tend to be a bit more expensive, but remember, less is more.
Focus on quality instead of quantity. A lot of local businesses also give back a percentage of their profits to local charities or environmental organizations - look for some that support wildlife conservation or other green initiatives.
How this helps marine mammals: If you support local businesses that are sponsors for eco-organizations and marine conservation, you’re showing your support for those same missions with your dollar. You are also lowering your environmental footprint; local products will have been produced nearby and don’t need to be transported thousands of miles with costly fossil fuels
#2 Bring Back the Mindfulness - What Does the Recipient Actually Need?
Maybe you’ve noticed that the curtains in your little brother’s apartment are looking extra ragged. What if you took them in to a shop and had them repaired or tidied up? Or if they are beyond repair, what if you got him a new set? Sure, curtains may not be the most glamorous of gifts, but it is useful, thoughtful, and shows that you are observant.That thoughtfulness will really shine, and you’re not just adding more clutter.
How this helps marine mammals: By being conscious of what you’re purchasing, or repurposing old clothing/products, you’re creating less useless waste and being mindful of our planet’s resources. One of the best things we can do for our planet is to reduce our consumption of new things and keep our own gear/items around for longer. In the short and long run, this will help protect the habitat of our marine mammals
#3 Use Gifting as an Educational Opportunity
So maybe your best friend loves candles, and you get her one every year. What about buying an eco-alternative this time around? Choosing a locally-produced soy candle could be an opportunity to introduce your friend to this more environmentally-friendly product, and she might be hooked. You’ve done your holiday shopping and inspired a green change in your friend’s lifestyle! Shopping for eco-friendly beauty products and household products that aren’t packed with chemicals and parabens is another good way to manifest this example.
Better yet, try making your own coffee scrubs or sugar scrubs for gifts and packaging them in repurposed mason jars. I did this last year and not only was it was a hit, it was kind on the wallet.
How this helps marine mammals: By not dumping harmful chemicals down the drain (or into the air), it means you’re helping to keep our waterways clean, and therefore helping to maintain the health of the habitat of our marine mammals. You’re also helping your friend make greener decisions for the rest of her life, and this has a huge impact.
#4 Gift Experiences or Donations in Someone’s Name
I saved my favorite tip for last. Time is precious, and when you gift someone an experience, you’re going to help them make memories that will outlast even the sturdiest of gifts. Some good examples are a pre-planned getaway to your favorite eco-resort or campground, a meal out at your favorite locally-sourced restaurant, or a whale watch with your favorite ethical whale watch operator (San Juan Safaris fits the bill very well!).
If the recipient is particularly passionate about a certain cause, you could even gift a donation in their name. Plenty of non-profit and environmental organizations have options specifically for this around the holiday. Looking for some inspiration? What about donating to the Center for Whale Research to help them with their work in saving the Southern Resident Killer Whales?
How this helps marine mammals: If you gift a donation to an organization dedicated to the conservation of marine mammals, you’re making a real impact and showing your love for a cause both you, and your recipient, are passionate about. Your money is going directly towards supporting these animals.
These tips are designed to help you start thinking about your holiday shopping and how you can be a bit more mindful. If you have some other ideas or businesses you love to support, I’d love to hear about them! Feel free to head over to thegreenestblue.com for some more eco-inspiration - like my 8 Weeks to a Greener Life & a Bluer Sea green-living challenge. I love sharing these kinds of tips on lifestyle and sustainable travel on the blog and share my thoughts regularly.
How cool is it to shift your thinking a bit and use the holiday season as a way to show your gratitude for the incredible critters with whom we share the planet? Thanks for reading, and I wish the happiest of holidays to each and every one of you!
About the Author
Lauren Fritz has a personal mission to inspire readers to live a greener lifestyle in order to protect the big blue. That's where the inspiration for The Greenest Blue comes from - started in 2017, the blog is about enjoying our lives to the fullest while showing respect for our environment and being aware of how our lifestyle choices affect the planet. Learn more about Lauren's mission here: www.TheGreenestBlue.com