9 Ways to Shop Local and Support your Community
When looking for gifts, no one needs yet another plastic thing made in a foreign country. Consider these gift-giving ideas to help keep money in your local economy:
1) CSA Box from a farmer or co-op in the area. If your gift recipient appreciates organic, local, fresh-grown food, consider getting them a community-supported agriculture box from the farmer in their area. The produce, fruits, nuts, dairy or meat products in this CSA box are ultra-fresh and you'll be supporting the economy by keeping money within the community. http://www.localharvest.org/csa/
2) Haircuts from the local barbershop or salon are a perfect gift because everyone needs a haircut and more importantly, a haircut can't be outsourced! Buy from a provider in the neighborhood, close and convenient to your gift recipient's home or workplace: http://www.google.com/search?q=haircut
3) Restaurant Gift Certificates - With thousands of options, consider going with a non-chain restaurant - get a $25 or $50 gift certificate to an ethnic place like Mexican, Chinese, Italian, or Indian, and wrap it nicely for your gift recipient. They get a great lunch or dinner date, and the restaurant can continue providing services to their community.
4) Babysitting coupon - For busy parents, give a babysitting gift certificate by pre-hiring a childcare provider who is familiar to your gift recipient's family. The kids will feel comfortable, the parents get a night out, and the babysitter gets a fair wage - everyone wins.
5) Housecleaning service - Choose an eco-friendly cleaning service like http://www.maidbrigade.com/green-cleaning-services to find someone in the area who will make the house "spick and span".
6) Soap, lotions, and other body care products - choosing products from a locally-based soapmaker helps keep these small business-people running. Choose a non-scented product, or one with ingredients that are all-natural, for sensitive skin. Many artisans are "mompreneurs" so you'll be supporting a local family with your purchase. http://www.soapguild.org/consumers/find-soapmaker/search.php
7) Local Artist's Market - go to your local artist's market and pick up something from one of the many artisans. Choose something unusual and thoughtful, like a flavored olive oil, a beautiful beeswax candle, a hand-knitted hat, or some other locally-produced, sustainable option. Your purchase supports the artisans in your community and your loved one will appreciate the thoughtfulness of your gift.
8) Photography Gift Certificate - A local photographer will be thrilled to take a portrait of your loved one and their family. Choose a "green" photographer in the area, and pre-pay for their session and prints. http://greenerphotography.org/
9) Auto Tuneup - Everyone has their favorite mechanic. Discreetly ask the gift recipient who they go to and get a pre-paid tuneup from them - put it in a box with a keychain and you have a wonderful, thoughtful gift for a commuter or someone who has to use their car often.