Buying Local, Making The Rest…

We’re now very much into the holiday season. And I guess that means for many, it’s time for last-minute shopping.
Luckily for us though, we’ve been able to do a lot more local shopping than usual.

It wasn’t necessarily a conscious decision not to use Amazon this year, because we’ve been trying to use Amazon LESS this year. While we DO still have Prime memberships – both for my business and our personal accounts, we don’t use Amazon Prime as the go-to. instead, it’s the last ditch resort.

But before I get into what we’ve done with our present shopping this year, let’s first talk about the subtle changes that have been happening.

Changing our shopping habits this year

This year, for example, for Transport Evolved we’ve been buying most of our camera equipment and computer equipment directly from appropriate specialists, like B&H Photo. Our decision to not use Amazon is to attempt to slowly wean ourselves off it and go back to using companies that we know treat their staff correctly. B&H always get gear to us quickly. They answer questions, and with just a few issues that were resolved very quickly, they’ve been amazingly awesome. Far better in fact than a faceless vendor on a site where (frankly many of the reviews are fake.

Good things take time

As the quality of Amazon shopping has deteriorated this year, we’ve gone back to doing research on our products. We’re replacing instant gratification with good, old-fashioned research, and a little patience. While Amazon is still sometimes used for hard-to-get things, or things that we absolutely need in 36 hours, we’re more likely to look online and research where to go and where to buy.

We buy our hair care product (shampoo and conditioner) directly from the companies whose products we prefer. It might be a little more expensive (yes, we’ve the luxury of being able to afford it), but we get the product we like… and we get to support more small businesses.

Making our own bread from flour we get online really helps ensure what we eat… isn’t just junk.

We mail-order our bread flower and Yeast in bulk (we make our own bread, don’t ya know), something that began in earnest when COVID 19 was first reassuring its ugly head. I order my toothcare products online too (no nasty plastic bottles for me!) – and my wife and I have a long list of other mail-order products we buy the same way, from strip laundry detergent to dental floss.

In a similar way, while we still use a local grocery store for non fresh-food items, we’re trying to be as ethical as possible about our weekly shop. We buy products we know are from brands who are as eco-minded and as ethical as possible. We order online and pick up at the store, minimizing in-store time and minimizing impulse-buys. Then, we visit the local butcher and the local garden center for local, ethically-farmed meat, fish and vegetables. We grow our own vegetables too in-season, and use eggs from our own chickens. Milk comes from a local dairy farm with a small head of cattle where you can see the cows being milked, see them being treated well, and even walk around.

Fresh eggs (and a fake egg) lying in a nesting box in a chicken coop.
Fresh eggs… you can’t beat them.

Which brings us to gifts

Since @Amerikate took up woodworking a few years ago, she’s been gradually gaining more tools and more skills. This year, she purchased both a lathe and a SawStop, making gift-making a whole lot easier than it once was.

Amerikate makes thee first SawStop cut of many on her way to making many a holiday gift this year.

This year, Amerikate has made all of the gifts we sent back to the UK, plus many of the other gifts were giving to friends and family. And for our great nephew and great niece in the UK, I visited Thinker Toys in Portland, Oregon (or Multnomah Village for locals), where I was able to get gifts that were both sustainable and age-appropriate (and featured no plastics either).

For colleagues, gifts were purchased from local shops and, in one case, purchased directly from the manufacturer – a manufacturer who makes products that are open-source, modifiable, and easily-repaired.

Unlike last year, when there were multiple trips down the mountain to the local town to pick up things from the post office, we either picked up the materials to make the gifts locally – or had things arrive in dribs and drabs.

Aside from getting a good feeling knowing that we’re giving unique gifts to many people, we’re also not lining the pockets of another rich billionaire.

What are YOU doing for gifts this year?

(Obviously, don’t tell me what you’re getting people… but the rest… I’d love to know.)