Nurturing: Beyond Black Friday Shopping to Save More than Money

More power to you if you're standing in line for hours to save big on your favorite new electronics or other gadgets for Black Friday.  Chances are, you're using numerous online tools to shop smarter and save money this year.  I confess that my lust for a professional grade camera is overriding my otherwise common sense notion that no material thing is worth fighting crowds the day after Thanksgiving.

Beyond saving dollars on a pricetag, here are some other ways to nurture ourselves and the planet by saving during this shopping season:

Save Community: 
The 3/50 Project encourages each of us to pick three local businesses we'd hate to see disappear from our communities and support them regularly with our purchases.  What better time than the holidays to make at least three of our gift purchases as local (ideally even locally made) as possible.  The extra five bucks we might give up in price will return in multiples when local businesses stay put, paying taxes, providing jobs and sponsoring softball teams.

Save Memories:
Most grandparents, aunts and uncles will appreciate personalized gifts like photo collages and handmade artwork from children.  Handmade Christmas tree ornaments will never go out of style.  Last year, I stitched ornaments on the family's hand-me-down treadle sewing machine so my in-laws would have something made on Great-Grandma's machine.

Save Health and Wellness:
It's easy to forget in the scramble to save a dollar that most of our common household products are not adequately tested for health and environmental safety.  That goes for everything from shampoos to bathtub cleaners to children's toys.  As consumers, we're on our own.  Watch for a new Black Friday shopping guide from Women's Voices for the Earth to help you make safer choices this year.  Now that newborns have around 200 toxic chemicals found in their cord blood, it's indisputable that we're swimming in an uncertain mix of product ingredients, some that may be causing serious damage.  Consumer advocate Diane MacEachern of the Big Green Purse reminds us that our shopping choices are powerful, "It's the primary way that I can protect myself and my kids and my community from environmental threats out there."

Save American Jobs:
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus who still makes things in the USA.  Maybe you'll find his helpers at Marble King in West Virginia, in a college-run gift shop in Kentucky, or in a rural hollow where busloads of students like to visit.  Maybe he has a workshop closer to your hometown than you realize.

Save Energy:
Did you know that some new appliances can use less than a third of the energy of older models?  We were astounded to see that the new LG television our daughter won in an essay contest uses only around $7 per year in energy, while some other televisions might use up to $25.  Small potatoes, until you start looking at all of the energy usage of all of your household appliances and how you could save yourself hundreds of dollars.  Check out the Energy Star product guide and look for the Energy Star logo to make sure your Black Friday deal will keep saving on your power bills and greenhouse gas emissions in the long run.

Save Waste:
Sure, we can recycle all of that excessive plastic packaging on the plastic toy made across the globe.  What if, every once in a while, we chose an alternative?  If our children receive five gifts to unwrap this year instead of ten, will they only be half as happy?  Do more items make us doubly happy?  "I personally find it extremely empowering to just say no," shares MacEachern.  Handmade gifts, movie tickets, vintage finds, charity sponsorships...the list of ways we can give without generating waste is endless and you'll find more examples than ever right here on the web.