How to Be a Conscious Consumer During the Holidays

child at christmas

The holidays are the perfect opportunity to celebrate your loved ones with thoughtful gifts, but we want to encourage all you Alchemists to take a conscientious approach to consumerism this season. Knowing that many of the gifts we give don’t come from sustainable or fair trade sources, how does one participate in the gift-giving ritual of the holidays while remaining mindful of the human and environmental costs that come with so many products?

Take heart, you do have options.   While we think our products are worth considering as a great solution, even if Alchemy Goods isn’t on your shopping list, we hope you’ll consider some of these suggestions for how you can shop more sustainably this season.

Gift the Gift of Donation

Photo by Oxfam

If you’re not sure what to get someone, maybe the best gift is a charitable donation in their name. You might not know what your coworker, white elephant match-up, distant relative, or son’s girlfriend need or want, but there are a lot of other people in the world who are only too easy to shop for. Why not send aid to the refugees in Syria, give livestock or valuable supplies to an international family living in poverty through a site like Oxfam, or make a donation to a homeless shelter in your gift recipient’s community? A charitable gift isn’t a cop-out, and can still be personal—think of a cause that the recipient of the gift is likely to support (are they an animal lover? environmentalist? a mother who might care deeply about shelters specifically for women and children?) and you might be surprised how much it will mean to them.

Keep It Local

If you do want to give a physical present, try to choose something locally-made. The working conditions of the overseas factories producing so many of our holiday purchases
can be very hard on the factory workers.   Low retail prices are often achieved by lowering standards for worker safety and comfort—if gift-giving is about thoughtfulness and kindness, ensuring that all the presents you buy were made fairly and willingly should be a csa tilthpriority. The easiest way to do this is to buy locally! You’re ensuring that 100 percent of the profits not only go back to your community, but are distributed fairly among the people who are actually making the products.

For example, we’ve talked about Community Supported Agriculture before, but it bears repeating—CSAs (weekly boxes of produce from a local farmer) are awesome, and make awesome gifts! Give someone on your list a share in a CSA, and they will get exciting new vegetables every week, which is practical, fun, and lasting, plus bears the peace of mind that comes with local, organic consumption.

Keep It Sustainable

Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, Americans throw away 25 percent more trash than the rest of the year, amounting to 25 million tons of garbage. We hope that all you Alchemists look for sustainable alternatives to one-time-use packaging and also choose gifts that were made sustainably and will be enjoyed for a long time.
We love this article from the Seattle Times that contains a number of locals sustainable shopping ideas. For example, did you know that Seattle Seahawks jerseys are made from recycled plastic bottles? Giving your favorite Hawks fan an up-cycled jersey that they’ll proudly wear for years is a great way of putting your dollars towards a team that values the environment. (We also recommend the Seahawks totes from their partnership with Alchemy Goods that raise money for the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence!)


Items that are made from up-cycled materials are often as practical and pleasing as any comparable items you might buy, but allow you to make a difference by reducing waste instead of contributing another item to a future landfill. Another option is to buy pre-used items in the first place—finding a cool vintage sweater in a second-hand shop repurposes something that’s already been created and also winds up being a lot more unique and thoughtful than another sweater from Macy’s. We especially encourage jewelry shoppers to buy antiques or pre-owned pieces, given the painful human and environmental costs of most mining operations.

Happy Holidays, Alchemists! We hope you’re able to find conscientious gifts for everyone on your list this year. Even when the trees are bare, we want the season to be as green as possible.











Photo Credit; Photo Credit; Photo Credit

Our Partnership Process on the Seahawks Tote

Last week we were thrilled to announce a partnership project with the Seattle Seahawks to create a line of totes from upcycled banners to raise money for the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The bags are available only at the Seahawk’s flagship retail store at CenturyLink Field, and they’re already going fast!

We’d love to share a little bit more about the story of our involvement in the project. We actually launched our banners-to-bags program several years ago, inviting teams, companies, government agencies, or event organizers to turn their used banners into branded products that would demonstrate their commitment to zero-waste initiatives. We’ve helped a number of groups up-cycle their banners into lasting, usable totes that are also a piece of their history.

We had originally been talking with the Seattle Sounders about converting the material that covers their upper decks during games into functional up-cycled products when the Seahawks came to them asking if they knew anyone who could repurpose their old banners. Naturally, the Sounders gave them our name!

Treasured Seahawks employee Sandy Gregory, who’s worked with the team since its inaugural season in 1976, had saved many banners and materials over the years and wanted to see them put to good use. Though these banners can be up to four stories high, we’re able to unfurl and cut down to size these salvaged materials at our workshop to produce beautiful patterned totes. Our workshop is just two blocks south of the Seahawks stadium, so one of the coolest things about this whole project is that Alchemy Goods is right in the epicenter for Seahawks game day excitement, and we hope we see a few of these bags go by our door on Sundays!

We couldn’t be happier for the opportunity to collaborate with the Seahawks, an amazing team that has been such a source of pride for our city, and that through this partnership, we’ve had an opportunity to contribute to such an important cause. Though Alchemy Goods has regularly donated products to organizations that align with our mission, such as sustainability or cycling causes, we’ve never participated in a large-scale fundraiser where all the profits are donated directly.

As October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we were especially grateful for an opportunity to contribute to a cause close to our hearts, our homes, and our region. Since 1997, there have been nearly 1,000 deaths that were the result of domestic violence in our state alone. We are so glad to have a chance to help raise money for an organization that aids abuse victims and—perhaps most importantly—prevents future abuse through education, resources, and community building. We are also proud of our Seahawks for selecting a cause that goes straight back to Washington families and, given the NFL’s checkered past with handling domestic abuse, speaks to our team’s commitment to safe relationship building.

We’re excited that this project indicates both a regional and national shift in consumer conscience. When we first launched our banners-to-bag program, we didn’t have very many candidates. “But the fact that organizations as important as the Seahawks are now coming to us,” said founder Eli Reich, “is a sign of changes in consumer behavior. People didn’t use to be so receptive to it, and now they’re thinking more about what materials their products came from and where they’re manufactured and how they can be reused. We don’t take credit for that change, but it’s really wonderful to witness.”

We love imagining that our city and our world are becoming safer, greener, and more aware, and that we’re helping accelerate that process!