Blog, Environment, Stuff, The Daily You

Going Christmas shopping? Buy local or sustainable

Key Takeaway: Even the things you consume can reflect your state of awareness! Especially this Christmas season, why not be more mindful of the things you buy – where they come from and how they are made – for gifts to your loved ones? Not only would you make your loved one happy, you’d also make someone like a small-time business and its stakeholders happy: the best Christmas gift you can give them.

As we hit the middle of October, I’m sure there are a fair number of people out there who’re already drawing up their Christmas lists – not for themselves, but for the bevy of loved ones they’re buying gifts for. That’s one good way to beat the Christmas rush: space out more evenly your gift purchases. That way, you also help yourself by not being stressed out as much – unless you’re a perfectionist at it. 😉

I myself am beginning to think already about the Christmas gifts I’m buying, low budget notwithstanding. But you don’t have to buy an extravagant (relatively, that is) gift to show your appreciation for your family or friends. It’s the thought that counts, as they say. That said, I do believe a true gift lies not in the material worth or value of something, but in two things: how happy it actually makes your recipient, and the quality of the gift. We’re talking about worth in terms of product goodness, not price.

For example, I would prefer a book I’ve been looking for for a long time that costs just Php600.00, over a branded shirt or jacket that costs Php3,000.00 or more. Unless I really liked the style (which normally I’d have to be consulted for). I love books, I’ve been looking for that particular title (in theory) for some time now, and I would sincerely appreciate more someone giving it to me (and thus eliminating the need for me to spend on it) as a gift than something I don’t really *want* or *need* (I have so much clothes at home, a lot of which fit me horribly). That kind of thing.

In relation to this, I want to share something that I came across on Facebook that my friends were sharing. It was posted by an online social news agency called ATTN:, on behalf of Anna Kostanian Art.

ATTN:/Anna Kostanian Art
ATTN:/Anna Kostanian Art

This is another point added to what I said earlier, and the main topic of today’s discussion. I believe that true gift-giving involves being mindful – or conscious – of the gifts we buy for others. Robotic gift-giving is not thoughtful at all, and is not true gift-giving but simply just something to “fill the gap”. We need to be mindful of the gift recipient, because it is for them after all.

But we need to be mindful of the gift itself, as well.

As a businessman, and someone who is not extremely passionate about receiving gifts, the best gift I could ask for would be support for my business – organic support, that is. Meaning, I don’t want people to buy out of pity (a trap many charitable businesses or social enterprises fall into), but because it really is something of worth. But that’s another story. The point being, if you support a startup with a very noble vision that is trying to grow, you would make their day (and their Christmas) by patronizing them for your gift-giving.

We all know that startups are a lot less stable than big businesses, and that one purchase could make or break them. And that they are more often than not made up of only several people, several very hardworking and passionate young people who want to make a difference with what they’re doing, who believe that this is the best way they can fully live their purposes.

This is the kind of responsible consumerism that companies like Habi Footwear and Human Nature are trying to advocate – a reminder of sorts that we ought to step back and reflect on where the goods we buy came from, and how they were made. Were they made sustainably? Were humane and fair labor conditions employed? Here in the Philippines in particular, people love buying imported goods so much that we may well be Filipinos only in blood and language. This is the kind of mentality organizations like Gawad Kalinga speak out against: One should love their own and see the beauty that their own can provide. Our fellow countrymen only need positive exposure to be encouraged all the more to do their best and produce quality.

So as we prepare this weekend to start running up and down the aisles for our Christmas gifts (or not), I invite you to reevaluate your list and choose gifts not based solely on convenience, price, or “all the rage right now”, but on integrity, on dignity, on true shared value.

Happy and purposeful weekend!

Featured Photo copyright 2012 Allister Roy S. Chua.

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