Christmas is the season of giving. Though shrouded in an onslaught of aggressive corporate marketing, I feel we can take the holiday back and embrace the spirit of giving in a way that’s a bit more meaningful. Some may equate this sort of notion by serving at soup kitchens or adopting a family for the holiday. Whereas I think these options, as well as countless others are great options for giving back to others this Christmas, one area that we don’t always think about giving back, however, is consciously choosing the gifts we give to others. By purchasing gifts that are fair trade or embrace sustainable practices, you’ll be giving a gift that gives back to others as well.
Fair trade items are those that were produced in good working condition, and purchased for a fair price-rather than a few nickels for hard work in dangerous factories. Sustainable gifts have a wide scope, including those that were made by local artists or tradesmen, those that are made from recycled or renewable materials, or produced in a manner that created a small carbon footprint.
In Akron, we are lucky to have a few places where we can purchase gifts that are certified fair trade or sustainably oriented. Here are a few:
The Market Path
This gem in Highland Square sells strictly fair trade products, and they are incredibly quality products at that! The Market Path offers a variety of pottery, hand carvings, bags, accessories, drums, coffee, chocolate, and other fantastic food items. Everything is very reasonably priced, and they get new items in constantly. Further, they offer pieces from local artists as well. The staff are incredibly friendly and eager to share their knowledge about fair trade and their travels and encounters with the international artists that create the beautiful pieces featured in the store. Particularly if you’re looking for a gift that is one of a kind, this is a great place to find it!
Miss Julie’s Kitchen and the Plant Kingdom Bakery
Though two separate entities, I list them together because they not only share the same building, but have the same passion and drive to bring their customers delicious, healthy, and sustainable products. If you enjoy giving foodstuffs of any kind, head over to Firestone Park to visit this wonderful little establishment. Miss Julie puts out new concoctions daily-breads, cabbage rolls (delicious), and a whole assortment of goodies. She also sells products from local farms and artists. The Plant Kingdom Bakery will offer you fantastic jam cookies, specialty granola bars, and goo-balls (a personal favorite). They focus heavily on providing nourishing food that utilizes local food sources. Even if you don’t feel like giving gift baskets, this is certainly a great place to grab a bite to eat when Christmas shopping!
Made in Akron
Nothing speaks sustainability like putting dollars back into the local Akron economy. By shopping at Made in Akron, you not only guarantee a quality gift produced by a local artist, but an opportunity to show your pride for the city. Made in Akron is located in Highland Square, and Rubber City Clothing (a sister store) is located in Downtown Akron. Both shops sell a variety of Akron-themed shirts, hoodies, and novelties. Pieces from local artists-including everything from paintings to jewelry-are also offered. Buying local in this case certainly looks good.
If you don’t feel like picking out the perfect gift, don’t forget that gift cards can be bought for any of these establishments. Gift certificates to local restaurants are also a great way to purchase gifts that will give back to the community.
No matter what you decide to purchase, understand that Christmas is a great opportunity to really give back to your community and those around you-but it is certainly not the only one! Collect cans for a food drive, participate in local volunteer opportunities, and appreciate what you have every day of the year. Have a happy holiday!