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Action of the Month: Go further than purchasing better

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Most Halloween costumes haven’t even been put away yet, and we’re already being bombarded with Holiday advertising. To resist the pressure and to avoid overconsumption, especially in this time where a significant amount of shopping is arriving by gas-powered delivery trucks, it’s important to be a well informed and well prepared consumer! Here are a few tips to not only purchase more responsibly, but also to step back to rethink and reduce our consumption.

GIVE HAPPINESS

2020 has been a challenging year. It has also reminded us of what is most important and what is superfluous - to focus on our priorities. After such a turbulent year, what better gift for your loved ones than to give and share happiness. Giving the gift of love and time together - no wrapping or ribbon required! Less focus on gifts and shopping, less pressure, less stress on our budgets, less running around - more time savouring the moments that we can be with loved ones.

Yes, the Holiday Season will be very different this year, but instead of dwelling on what we’ll be missing, let’s embrace a new approach and make the most of the opportunity to do things differently. Though we may not be celebrating with as many people as we’re used to, an intimate celebration with our core people can be very special. And coming up with creative ideas for virtual celebrations with those who we won’t be able to see in person can also be a blast!

IF YOU DO SHOP, SUPPORT LOCAL BUSINESSES

For those few special tokens of affection you’d like to give your loved ones, try to shop local. So many local businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic. Where possible, let’s try to support them rather than the online retail giants, whose profits, in contrast, have skyrocketed. Emissions from the increase in shipping from these online giants has also increased significantly.

So go for a stroll in your neighbourhood and check out your local merchants. Purchasing from them will help contribute to the resilience of your community.

OPT TO PAY BY DEBIT RATHER THAN CREDIT

It’s not widely known, but businesses incur greater costs when we pay by credit card than when we pay by debit card. When you pay by debit card, merchants pay a flat fee of 10 cents or less. When you pay by credit card, there is a merchant fee of up to 3% of the purchase price, depending on the type of card.

So in the same vein of supporting our merchants, let’s try where possible to pay by debit card instead of credit card. It’s a small gesture that won’t cost you anything, but it will keep costs down for our local merchants, who could really use a hand these days!

SAY NO TO BLACK FRIDAY

If there’s one thing that has come to symbolize overconsumption, it’s Black Friday. This year, mark November 27 on your calendar as “Buy Nothing Day”. You’ll be amazed at how relaxing “Buy Nothing Day” can be!

RETHINKING AND REDUCING CONSUMPTION

Responsible consumption is often held up as the model to follow for the environment, our health and the local economy. Responsible consumption focuses mainly on the ethical side - shopping local for quality items produced by well-treated workers. But in 2020, responsible consumption is no longer enough.

The ever-worsening global climate crisis has made it clear: responsible consumption does not go far enough in response to the emergency.

In contrast, by rethinking and reducing our consumption - consuming less AND consuming better - we can shrink our environmental footprint considerably. So instead of asking yourself where and how to buy something, rather ask yourself: do I really need to buy it in the first place? Will this truly bring happiness to my loved ones or to myself?

As consumers, citizens, community members and family members, we have an important role to play. Talk about overconsumption with those around you. Tell your family and friends that you don’t want them to spend their money on gifts that won’t necessarily bring happiness. Together, let’s focus on what really matters this Holiday Season, and make it a memorable one. And on that, let’s spend our energy elsewhere in November. There will be plenty of time to get into the spirit in December :)