Smart Shopping

A guide to making your dollars make sense this holiday season. 

The holiday season is synonymous with indulgence. And over-spending. And abandoning all those healthy, conscious practices you strive to live every day. Change it up this season, by shopping for your loved ones and at the same time supporting your community and a healthy planet. We’ve collected ideas to to help you assure the money you spend on holiday gifts reinforces your ethos and makes positive social sense.

Buy from Brands with Sustainably-minded Business Practices

So many of today’s outdoor manufacturers are bucking the traditional “take, make, use and waste” approach to goods by substituting a circular model that emphasizes longevity instead. When shopping, choose companies that offer lifetime warranties and free returns and repairs in commitments like Patagonia’s Ironclad Guarantee. The company accepts returns or repairs free of charge on all of its products—earning it a lifelong customer base and minimizing the amount of Patagonia goods in the landfill. Meanwhile, Colorado-based Osprey advertises a free “All Mighty (Lifetime) Guarantee” repair program and will replace any packs it can’t repair. Burton’s Pass Along program works to keep its gear out of landfills—and in rotation. Burton customers can bring their new or used products to a flagship or outlet store and exchange them for credit towards a new Burton product. You can opt to donate the value of that credit to The Chill Foundation—an organization helping underserved youth overcome challenges through boardsports. Bottom line with these companies: They make it easy (though not inexpensive) to find desirable gifts that go easy on the planet.

Think Outside of the Material Box

Skip buying things and gift a membership or subscription. The recently-launched My Planet Pass designs to increase individual engagement with environmental causes. Pass holders instantly become members of, and receive membership benefits of, organizations like 1% for the Planet, Protect Our Winters (POW), Save the Waves Coalition, Slow Food, The National Forest Foundation and more. It’s an easy, neatly packaged way to support multiple environmentally-conscious nonprofits at one time. My Planet Passes range from $200 to $400 ( Other great non-material gift ideas include subscriptions to services that make playing outside a little bit easier. For example the onX app service helps outdoorsy folks responsibly explore off the beaten path on public lands, even without cell service. Rates run $30 per year, per state (

Resist Amazon

Hitting as a one-stop shop for your holiday needs is the easiest way to maximize your time and knock out all of your shopping. But put yourself in a brand’s shoes; Selling goods through the leviathan online store is a nothing short of a nightmare. Amazon’s lax enforcement of sellers who undercut a company’s minimum advertised price (MAP) forced Colorado-based pack brand Mountainsmith to pull its products from the site altogether. Mountainsmith president Jason Getzel noted the constant resources he must devote to policing pricing and fighting competitive paid advertising and falsified paid reviews as reasons for forgoing selling on Amazon and focusing on supplying and supporting retail shops instead. Although the price may be higher than what you can find on Amazon, buying products directly from a brick-and-mortar shop is an excellent way to truly support your favorite brands big and small, as well as those independently-owned retail shops. 

Look for Products Made with Responsibly-Sourced Materials 

Seek out goods made with sustainably and responsibly-sourced materials. According to a recent study conducted by the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), the past decade has seen a big increase in outdoor brands incorporating sustainable manufacturing practices. Companies like Columbia, Marmot and Buff are using recycled plastic to create environmentally-friendly apparel. Sunglass manufacturer Costa del Mar offers its Untangled Collection, a series of protective eyewear made out of recycled fishing nets pulled from the ocean. Cotopaxi, whose motto is “gear for good,” designs its “Repurposed Collection” to use every scrap of fabric, buckles, thread and zippers that normally end up on the production floor. 

Combine Your Mountain Town Adventures with Holiday Shopping

Colorado boasts 23 designated creative districts that help support artists. Most are conveniently located in prime winter adventure destinations. Next time you hit the slopes and trails in towns like Crested Butte, Manitou Springs and Breckenridge, be sure to stroll the town streets, where many locally-owned artist and artisan shops brim with original, handcrafted gift ideas. 


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