Blog : Gift Giving ROI: It Pays to Think Outside the (Holiday) Box by Shopping Local and Green

By Patrick Haigis | Dec 3, 2014 | in

By Kristyn Lak Miller

PORTSMOUTH — Giving a gift is an investment in a relationship, buying that gift locally is an investment in community, and making sure it’s a green gift is an investment in the future.

“Supporting local, green businesses offers tremendous ROI,” says Sarah Brown, Director of Green Alliance. According to a Civic Economics study, independent retailers return 52-percent of revenue to the local economy compared to 14-percent for big-box retailers; in addition, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance says local stores help sustain a vibrant, walkable town center—as opposed to big-box retailers that often reside on the edge of town—and are essential to reducing sprawl, automobile use, habitat loss, and air and water pollution.

“Beyond economic and environmental benefits, shopping local cultivates community connections,” says Brown. “There’s really nothing like a shopkeeper greeting you by name, asking about your family, being more than just a fleeting face at the cash register.”

Founded in 2009, Green Alliance connects its green-minded members and community followers with more than 100 local businesses—from retail to real estate—that are doing their part to lessen their environmental impact. Each Green Alliance-approved business undergoes a sustainability certification and receives a green rating along with a report card detailing its degree of greenness, from Sprout, to Bud, to Blossom.

For example, North Hampton’s Simply Green, a biofuels company, has a rating of 9.08 out of 10 with a report card indicating its achieved Blossom status, the highest category of sustainability. “Being green is what we’re all about,” says Guy Marshall, SG General Manager. “It’s fantastic to be recognized for all our eco-friendly initiatives. It’s also important for us to be seen as a local, homegrown resource—we’re fiercely independent and all of our business decisions reflect a strong desire to serve our community, as well as Mother Nature.” Gift-givers can give loved ones the unique and utilitarian gift of a full tank of Bioheat to keep them warm all winter long.

Zev Yoga, another Green Alliance Business, has been promoting a holistic approach to health since 2006. In the past 8 years, the Portsmouth-based studio has spread its roots to Exeter and Dover, thanks to unwavering support from the local community. "For me, being a local business owner is about offering an amenity for our community that holds the clients best interest at heart," says Jonas Zev, owner. "It's about offering a product that supports the long term sustainability of the community while addressing the needs of the individual." A ten class punch card, good for classes at any Zev Yoga studio or a three month membership, can be gifts that provide both physical and mental health benefits to the recipient.

Dr. Sarah Hudson, OD, of Portsmouth's Harbor Eyecare Center shares similar sentiments. "For over 16 years HEC has been a proud part of this community, and we love interacting with patients, neighbors, friends, Lion's Club members, GA members and business peers every day. It’s a special pride and always brings a warm smile when at a restaurant or in the grocery store a patient, out with their family or a friend, recognizes me and comments: 'That's my eye doctor, how are you Dr. Sarah? I'm coming in next week to see you!' We all prosper and grow together or we lose the local connection. “HEC offers gift cards and has a large selection of stylish sunglasses which can make a fabulous gift for the skier in the family.

As an extra incentive to support local, green businesses, Green Alliance provides its individual members with exclusive discounts at each of the businesses it certifies, such as a one-month free trial membership at Zev Yoga (in Portsmouth, Exeter, or Dover) or 10% off food at Redhook Brewery, Portsmouth Brewery, Two Ceres Street or Poco’s Bow Street Cantina, and great discounts at over 100 other local green-leaning businesses. “It can cost a bit more to buy local, and green, but our money-saving perks and privileges reward our members by allowing them to save when they spend their money in an environmentally responsible way,” reminds Brown.

And, special for this holiday season, several GA businesses, such as Riverworks Printing and Green Earth Baby Works are offering stepped-up discounts for GA consumer members.

“Tradition is very important around the holidays,” says Brown. “This year we’re encouraging a new tradition of choosing local and green as much as possible for your holiday shopping.” To simplify conscientious and sustainable shopping, Green Alliance is offering two membership deals: a one-year Green Alliance personal membership at $10 off the regular price and a special gift membership. Those who purchase a membership now can use their Green Alliance Member Card to get discounts while doing their holiday shopping at nearly 115 participating local businesses. The first ten to order a Green Alliance gift membership receive a coupon good for $50 off a cleaning with Green Maids—the gift-giver can keep this or include it with the gift.

“A membership in Green Alliance is a one-size-fits-all gift, with truly something for everyone, whether the recipient is into food, fashion, or family, or even a whole-house remodel,” says Brown. “Membership is a green gift that keeps on giving.” Gift Memberships must be purchased by Friday, December 19, 2014 to ensure delivery by Christmas—the New Member Kit can be mailed to the gift-giver or gift-wrapped and sent to the lucky recipient with a personalized message.

“I’ve been a GA member for a couple of years, and appreciate that the research has been done for me, and I don’t have to worry about green-washing,” says Dover resident Katherine Thatcher. “I have access to a long list of businesses that are local to me, and that are fully transparent in terms of what they are doing to be green. Plus the best part is that my membership card rewards me for shopping consciously – every time I get that member discount I get the double benefit of saving money and supporting an green-minded company.”

Green Alliance is a union of local sustainable businesses promoting environmentally sound business practices and a green co-op offering discounted green products and services to its members.

To become a member of the Green Alliance click here!