Around this time last year, I remember thinking: “It's not even December yet and if I see one more bell-ringer, mall Santa or ridiculous displays of consumerism, I will snap”.
Thankfully this year, I'd had enough around Halloween and decided to go a different route when shopping for holiday gifts--buying only local artisan gifts, gifts that supported social justice causes, or local and independent stores.
In turn, I was able to circumvent the mall scene entirely. Sure, you could always go the Amazon route and shop in your jammies over your morning coffee, but seeing as how I'm a writer and Amazon has been refusing to carry published content they disagree with for years (not to mention all their anti-unionization tactics), that just wasn't going to work for me.
If you too are looking for some great local companies, artisan products, or socially conscious gifts, all based in Vancouver but don't know where to start, here's a few suggestions.
- 5th Annual Crafts for a Cause Fair (Saturday, December 1, 6-10pm at Rhizome Cafe, 317 E Broadway): Rhizome once again hosts this holiday craft fair that supports local social justice, environmental causes, and artisans. A $2 donation to fund raise for the cafe is appreciated, but no one will be turned away due to lack of funds. Items for sale include photography, soaps, fair trade coffee, toys, clothes, pottery and much more. Check out rhizomecafe.ca for more details and a list of vendors.
- People's Co-Op Books, Annual Holiday Party (Sunday, December 2, 5-10pm at People's, 1391 Commercial Drive): Want to meet Vancouver's literary elite, indulge in some tasty holiday treats, buy books, and support a legendary local establishment? This event is for you, my fellow book nerd. Come rub shoulders with writers and poets like Wayne Compton, Kevin Chong, Elizabeth Bachinsky, Charles Demers, and past poet laureates Brad Cran and George Bowering, and check off the book lovers on your gift list.
- Something Green (Trendy and Eco-friendly greeting cards/wedding invitations): Green, eco-conscious cards made by local artisan and graphic designer, Corinne Leroux. According to their site, all of their products are FSC certified, carbon neutral, and recyclable. Even their ink is organic! They're a local start-up from an SFU grad, and always willing to do custom work. You can find them online or at various locations near Main Street-- including Scout Boutique, The Flower Factory, and Plush.
- Shanti Uganda (A Vancouver-area based charity working in Uganda, to better improve infant and maternal health, and the health of women living with HIV/AIDS): Shanti Uganda is a pretty interesting organization, that provides many programs, including midwife training and a birthing house in Nsaasi Village. But one of their programs, the Women's Income Generating Group, trains and employs 21 HIV women to create handicrafts for their site. I'm a fan of the patch bag myself, but you can check out all their products and programs.
- LoveLight Yoga Clothing (Cotton/bamboo blends, made and screen printed in East Van): In this city, chances are you have a yogi on your shopping list. Sure, you could buy from that big ubiquitous local company-- you know, the one with all the clothing with synthetic fibers that will spend decades breaking down in landfills. Alternately, you could check out something that will make you stand out in the crowded yoga studio. Local yoga teacher, Danielle Hoogenboom, designed this line of yoga clothing to actually move with your body, look stylish, all while being eco-friendly. For about the last year, I have lived on and off the mat, in the flow pants. You can find some of the LoveLight Yoga Clothing line at Unity Yoga (1672 E 10th-- off Commercial Drive) or on their site .
Editor's note: another great choice for ethical gifts is Saul Good Gift Co., where you can get local artisan-made gourmet gift baskets, green gifts and custom gifts in 100 per cent recycled boxes.