It’s the season when folks stress over what to give to their friends and families. People scrape their minds as they try to remember which game system their child wants or what novel grandma was talking about.
At the New Orleans Healing Center, LifeCity, an organization focused on making social and environmental impacts profitable for local businesses, is attempting to offer an alternative to the typical shopping market.
On Thursday, Dec. 18, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., the Healing Center will function as the “Green Gifts and Holiday Market,” as LifeCity brings in local vendors to provide holiday shoppers an opportunity to buy green and invest in their communities. This will be the third year for the market.
“For the past few years, we’ve had a green gifts holiday market where we encourage local sustainable vendors to come and sell their products or services to conscious consumers,” said Meryl Dakin, Life- City’s community manager.
“It’s an alternative to shopping at the bigger corporations, the money that won’t stay in our state; it encourages people to patronize businesses that are actually giving back to our community and who are creating jobs within the city of New Orleans and the greater New Orleans area.”
Though it has hosted these events in the past, this year, the market will be bigger than ever. More than 20 local businesses will attend the event, selling local art, natural pet-care products, repurposed jewelry, recycled clothing and more.
All the items sold follow a set of guidelines decided upon by LifeCity, ensuring that they follow the green theme.
“We partner with Stay Local and the Chamber (of Commerce) on this event so we ensure that vendors are either 100 percent local or they have a sustainably designed product,” said LifeCity CEO Liz Shephard. “So we ask each of our vendors about their products and services. We also have a filter for family-friendly items, as well.”
Patti Dunn, an industrial designer, owns Tchoup Industries, a company that creates environmentally friendly backpacks from recycled materials such as old sails, rice bags, wool curtains and cotton canvas. Her business has been a member of LifeCity since early 2013, when she started her business.
She’s well aware of the many holiday shopping options, but she thinks this is a time to take a few more variables under consideration.
“You have a lot of choices when you do your holiday shopping,” Dunn said. “But I think it’s very important to buy locally, which is another great effect of this market. All of that money can stay here in your local community. And then this also provides an opportunity to buy green so that beautiful natural world around is receiving the least amount of impact from the purchases we make as a consumer.”
But the marketplace isn’t just a place to buy gifts; it’s a social event that allows you to learn about sustainable practices that you can undertake as an individual.
There will be a few local businesses in attendance that focus on green energy and can explain how those ideas can be implemented within your own home.
This is a somewhat typical event for LifeCity, as it hosts a happy hour for green businesses every month. But this month’s event is definitely focused on the market.
“It’s the same concept as a marketplace,” Dakin said. “But this year, we also have one of our members, Pearl Wine, serving a premade punch for a suggested donation. So it’s going to be a happy hour event as well, which is how all our monthly events are, but it’s going to be a fun way to shop around.”