As the holidays begin, the giant overseas factories have kicked into high gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods — merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American labor. This year will be different. This year Americans will give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans. There is no longer an excuse that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands. But you CAN!
It’s time to think outside the box! Who says a gift needs to fit in a box wrapped in factory-produced wrapping paper? Just about everyone gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates from your local hair salon or barber? Gym membership? It’s appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement. Who wouldn’t appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, American owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.
Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plonking down the bills on a mass-produced flat-screen? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course. There are slews of owner-run restaurants ALL offering gift certificates. And, if your intended recipient isn’t the fancy eatery sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint. Remember, this isn’t about big National chains -this is about supporting your home town Americans whose financial lives are on the line by helping them to keep their doors open. How many people couldn’t use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy? Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom or a busy friend? They would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day.
My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some young guy who is struggling to get his repair business up and running. If you are looking for something more personal, local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes.
Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip. And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theatre. Musicians need support too, so find a venue showcasing local bands. Do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand mini lights for the house? When you buy a five dollar string of lights, about fifty cents stays in the community. If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip.
You see, the winter holiday season no longer needs to be about draining our pockets so that foreign countries can build more stuff for us to buy. This season is now about caring about US, encouraging American, small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. And, when we care about other Americans, we care about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn’t imagine.
This CAN BE the new American Holiday tradition. Let’s bring this holiday season close to home.
GREEN HOMES are properties that have been built or renovated with a focus on three broad principles:
Energy efficiency. A GREEN HOME uses as little energy as possible for air heating and cooling, water heating, lighting, ventilation, and electrical needs while keeping the inside environment comfortable and allowing the resident to live a standard lifestyle.
Conservation of natural resources. The resources used for the home construction, for the interior and exterior finishing, and for the landscaping, as well as the energy sources and water used while living in the home, should be used thoughtfully and not be wasted. Seen through this lens, durability, low environmental impact and low maintenance all become important attributes for a green home.
High indoor air quality. GREEN HOMES are designed to be healthy houses. Moisture, mold, and radon don’t plague a GREEN HOME. Building materials, furnishings, paints and finishes should not contribute toxins and irritants to indoor air. Even with clean air though, houses need mechanical ventilation that assures a steady flow of fresh air.
How do you know which homes are green? Stay tuned!
In areas where certified green homes have been selling for several years, studies show that certified green homes sell for higher prices and more quickly than non-certified homes.
In a May 2009 study, it was found that, on average, certified green homes in the Seattle metro area sold 9.6% above non-certified homes. Also, the certified homes stayed on the market for 18 days less than noncertified homes.
As buyers become more aware of certified green homes and the demand for them becomes greater, we will see more and more of them built and existing homes retrofited and certified. Eventually most cities will make the green home of today standard practice as building codes and regulations are modified.
So, why buy a green home? Tune in!
See the available green homes in Bellevue!
Ever wondered what a “green home” is? I’ll explain the different types, but, for now, let me give you an idea what people mean by a green home.
Generally, green homes are healthier, more comfortable, more durable, and more energy efficient and have much smaller environmental footprint than conventional homes. Although certifications are necessary to officially designate a home green, everyone can have greener homes and lives. A home’s green features are what make it more efficient and environmentally friendly or greener. A resource efficient green home is one that—compared with a standard home—uses less energy, water, and natural resources; creates less waste; and is healthier for its inhabitants. Homes can be built green or existing properties can undergo green renovations.
In fact, many green measures, particularly those that involve energy and water efficiency, will reduce long-term costs. Often these reductions in operating costs will more than offset the additional up-front costs of a green home. The homebuilding industry is beginning to recognize the value of healthy homes and environmentally responsible projects.
Please visit my website, http://www.alisonsnow.com, to see some of the available certified green homes in Bellevue, Redmond, and Issaquah.
I must say that I do love Trader Joes. It offers a good variety of interesting as well as mostly healthy and organic products. It’s been seldom that I’ve purchased a product of which I was dissatisfied – the quality is typically good and the food is typically rather tasty if not delicious.
However. I don’t believe I’ve been brainwashed to believe the importance of supporting our local businesses, manufacturers, and producers. Making our country – and local environs – economically strong is essential to any sort of decent future for our next of kin (such as my 16 year old daughter), and one of the best ways to do that is to keep our money circulating locally, or at least nationally.
Sure, some of the money we spend at Trader Joes goes to the employees, the building maintenance vendors, most likely the local administration that manages the building and possibly even the product buyer. There are even a few U.S. products such as their wines and beers, and I suppose some of the dairy products, too. But a huge percentage of the dollars earned by the store goes overseas to the multitudes of countries that ship their goods to Trader Joes. How does that support our local economy? Right, it doesn’t.
I’ve come to understand the harm to our country’s welfare by the Free Trade Agreement, and now understand why there was so much passion against the WTO meetings in Seattle 10 years ago. The USA simply will not thrive unless we bring manufacturing and buying back home. (By the way, if you haven’t yet seen The Battle in Seattle, it’s well worth watching.)
But, that still doesn’t prevent me from liking Trader Joes. The question is do I continue to shop there because I like it, or avoid the store on principle? It’s truly a tough decision.
Hello out there. I am finally jumping into the green movement with both feet, and this blog represents my second step. I hope to inform the residents of Bellevue just what their city is doing to help ease global warming by reducing its carbon footprint, to help improve some of the globe’s environmental problems, and to support our local businesses by keeping as much of the money flow within Washington state.
I agree that I’m biting off an immense chunk of the current information overload, but if I can bring awareness and change to even a small segment of our population, I’ll have succeeded.
Here’s to an interesting adventure!