Keep the holidays happy

For many of us, time off of work, lots of food and lots of shopping is in our very near future.

It’s easy to succumb to the stresses of preparing enough food and getting the right gifts, so, on the brink of the holiday season, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:

Eat well

Whether you’re celebrating a holiday with an extravagant dinner, or simply getting together for a meal, supporting sustainable agriculture is not only good for your health, but it’s more beneficial to the people and animals involved in the food production process.

Eat Well Guide is a free online directory for fresh, locally grown and sustainably produced food in the United States and Canada.  Find a place to support near you at

Buy local

Buying locally grown food is a great way to cut down on the transportation, processing and packaging associated with food production.  According to, between production and transportation, growing 10 percent more produce for local consumption in Iowa would result in an annual savings ranging from 280,000 to 346,000 gallons of fuel and an annual reduction in CO2 emissions ranging from 6.7 to 7.9 million pounds.

Buying gifts from local stores will also help you to cut down on unnecessary transportation.  Even better if you’re able to ride your bike or walk.  Energy costs typically associated with shopping at big complexes are also something to take into consideration.

A Business Insider article refers to this as “indie shopping” and describes it as a conscientious effort to patronize independent or locally owned businesses when possible to reap community benefits, from social interaction to tax revenues (read more).

Do it yourself

Don’t worry about spending money or trekking through crowded malls to

Turn old sheet music into a holiday ornament.

find the perfect gift.  Sometimes the greatest gift is as simple as a hand-made card or an act of kindness.  Think outside the box and consider what would really make a difference in someone’s life.  Is it a brand-new gadget that might end up in the landfill in three months, or did you create something from recycled pieces that someone might treasure because it’s hand-made?  It could even be volunteering your time to help someone in need and make a lasting impact.

For ideas on gifts you can make, check out sites like Craft and Make.  Or, if you’re not feeling crafty, support someone who does.  Sites like Etsy feature many hobbyists who create one-of-a-kind items from recycled materials – just search “recycled” and see what comes up!


Maybe most important of all, just be grateful for what you do have and consider sharing what you have an abundance of – whether it’s money, food, clothes or time.

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