Christmas is one of my favourite times of year. I love putting up the tree, decorating the house, finding the perfect presents for everyone and indulging in all things festive!
There’s so much to think about at this time of year, and for those of us trying to live an ethical and sustainable lifestyle, it’s not always the easiest season. Wrapping paper, Christmas shopping, greetings cards, buying presents, decorations, you name it – it all has it’s own sustainability and ethical challenges.
Luckily the #EthicalHour tribe are on hand with some amazing resources, tips and advice to share to keep this Christmas as ethical as possible, so here is our “ethical guide to Christmas”:
Give Good Gifts
Black Friday began in America but in recent years it’s made its way across the pond and is now a highlight for many Christmas shoppers.
This year’s weekend was a very strong one for big retailers with reports suggesting that consumers spent a record amount online, but many small businesses faced pressure to drive down their prices to compete.
The mass consumption can also have a negative impact on the planet and people working in the production chain.
Many small businesses, producers and ethically-minded consumers choose to boycott the weekend entirely – others focus on shopping ethically and supporting smaller businesses.
This year, we’ve teamed up with The Soap Co, an ethical luxury brand based in London’s East End who employ people who are blind, disabled or disadvantaged, to highlight ethical alternatives and encourage people to “give good gifts” this Christmas.
The #GiftGoodGifts campaign brings together bloggers, independent retailers and customers to champion and celebrate products that are beautiful and have heritage, positive social impact and are sustainable.
Since its launch in early November it has already reached over 300k+ people and been a great success on social media.
Supporters include Lily Cole’s eyewear brand, Wires Glasses, bloggers Tartan Brunette and Curiously Conscious and independent boutiques Luna and Curious in Shoreditch, Future and Found in Lewes and online ethical store Aerende amongst others.
The campaign has been sharing the best ethical gifts and brands during November and December and to raise awareness, The Soap Co will be sponsoring the #EthicalHour ethical gift chat on Monday 5 December.
Read their interviews with brilliant bloggers, brands and independent retailers, find some beautiful, ethical gifts and find out more: https://thesoapco.org/blogs/latest/our-new-campaign-give-good-gifts
Purchase with Purpose
There’s some brilliant gift guides out there if you’re stuck for inspiration, so there’s no excuse not to buy some beautiful ethical gifts this festive season! Here’s a few of my favourites:
Social Enterprise UK have a gift guide featuring gifts that give back and support social projects around the world. There’s some great suggestions and information about all the social enterprises behind the products, so you can tell a great story about your gifts too: https://www.flipsnack.com/ktandco/social-enterprise-2016-gift-guide.html
Pioneers Post have been looking at 5 key ways you can give back after the consumer onslaught of Black Friday, including the gift guide from Social Enterprise UK, ethical marketplaces and online brands and The Big Issue’s online shop: https://www.pioneerspost.com/news-views/20161124/the-pioneers-post-christmas-gift-guide
Our ethical fashion Top Tweeter Tartan Brunette AKA Jen Brownlie has published her first ever ethical Christmas gift guide. What I love about it is that it’s organised by price and kept most of the gifts under £15.
We all know budgets can be tight at this time of year and ethical purchases can be more pricey (for good reason!) so this really helps. Plus she’s picked some beautiful presents too! http://tartanbrunette.co.uk/2016/11/ethical-christmas-gift-guide.html/
Buy Me Once have been asking people in London to remember the Christmas gifts that have meant the most to them over the years. Check out their interviews here for a heartwarming reminder of what Christmas is all about:
For the person who has everything…
Some people are just hard to buy for. We all have that one awkward relative or shopaholic friend who buys themselves everything they want throughout the year, so instead, give to someone else on their behalf!
Lend With Care gift vouchers allow the recipient to lend relatively small amounts of money to people in 11 countries who are keen to start or grow their own business.
This peer-to-peer microfinance platform is run by international charity Care International UK, which fights poverty and injustice around the world. When you buy someone a Lend With Care gift voucher, they go online, choose an individual they are going to lend the money to, and this becomes a contribution towards the total amount the entrepreneur is looking for.
He or she will use the money to start or expand their small business, thereby helping them to feed their family and send their children to school. They will then repay the loan, allowing the investor to withdraw their funds or re-invest in another entrepreneur. Find out more about this innovative platform in this Guardian article.
Support small producers
When you buy from a small business or local artist, you’re more likely to make an ethical purchase and ensure that the money you spend directly supports someone’s livelihood. Plus you’ll get a beautiful product too!
The #GiveGoodGifts hashtag is a great place to find ethical gift guides, and if you’re passing through London then Bouf have a Christmas stocking pop up shop in Piccadilly Underground Station that’s well worth a visit.
I came across the Christmas Stocking Project through #EthicalHour, luckily just before I was heading down to London for the weekend, so I got a chance to pop in.
Their aim is to bring together the hottest design talent, support makers and give the new kids on the block a chance. If you’re looking for stylish, creative and one of a kind gifts, then this is the place for you! (Bonus, you can shop online too!)
Get your family involved
Not everyone’s family is as sustainably-minded as they are, and as Christmas is traditionally a time to come together and celebrate, this can be a challenge.
Marketing consultant Eleanor Snare is committed to living sustainably all year round, and she’s got some really helpful, practical tips for getting your family involved, and when it’s sometimes ok to take a pit stop in your sustainability journey and prioritise your loved ones. Check out her post here:
Don’t lose sight of the important things
#EthicalHour tribe member Tina Pölzl-Huemer has written a lovely post for Trusted Clothes about what Christmas means to her, and which parts she enjoys the most. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with too many things to do in the run up to the big day, check this one out for a bit of much needed perspective: http://www.trustedclothes.com/blog/2016/12/01/rethinking-meaning-christmas-part-1
If you’re trying to live more ethically and sustainably at any point in the year, education is the key. Truly ethical brands don’t shy away from an open and honest conversation – so don’t be afraid to challenge them!
Oxfam have produced a “naughty and nice” list this Christmas to help you spot transparent fashion brands. Find out why transparency is important and check the list here before you part with your hard earned cash for some new Christmas clothes: http://www.abc.net.au/triplej/programs/hack/oxfam-ethical-fashion-list/8045708
Join the conversation
The #EthicalHour tribe are chatting all about how to have an ethical, sustainable and beautiful Christmas in the weekly chat on Monday 5 December 8-9pm GMT. Join the conversation using the hashtag or catch up on the highlights later. You’ll find them on the #EthicalHour Storify profile.
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