We usually want a White Christmas, but there are growing concerns around the impact of consumer culture, the high use of plastic, the thousands of tonnes of waste material dumped into our oceans and landfills every year, and working conditions in developing countries continue to suffer under the expectation of cheap, fast labour.
You can still have a good Christmas, but maybe you have to be a bit more inventive in your gifts! And still hope for a White Christmas too!
The call for ethical produce is getting louder and manufacturers are paying attention. Here's how you can start shopping more ethically.
Hit the charity shops
- In the UK alone, more than 300,000 tonnes of textile waste ends up in landfills every year. Before you think about buying new, see if you can find what you're looking for in your local charity shop. It can be a source of hidden treasures, particularly if you're looking for clothes, toys, books or music.
- By paying a visit to your local charity shop, you know your money is going to a good cause and you're limiting your carbon footprint by re-using something that's already gone through the manufacturing process.
Buy from ethical clothing stores
Instead of heading straight to known high street brands, familiarise yourself with some ethical clothing brands that are doing great work for the planet. Here are the key things you should look out for:
- 100% organic cotton uses less water than non-organic, and it's free of pesticides and fertilisers which makes it better for the planet.
- Sustainable fabrics like bamboo, hemp, Tencel, and recycled denim are better for the environment
- Ethical employers provide their workers with a safe working environment and fair pay – look for brands that are World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO) accredited.
- Check eBay for second hand items from known ethical clothing retailers. The Ethical -Consumer website also has a list of UK high street brands, scoring each out of 20 – try to pick the highest rated brand you can afford
Shop for Fairtrade food
The Fairtrade symbol guarantees better prices, working conditions, sustainability, and terms of trade for farmers and workers in developing countries.
There are a range of products that can be certified by the Fairtrade Foundation, including:
- Food, Sweets and chocolate, Coffee and tea, Flowers, Herbs and spices, Wine, Beauty products, cotton.
- There are more than 4,500 Fairtrade products available from UK shops – you can find out more about them on the Fairtrade website.
Make your own wrapping paper
- When it comes to gifts, don't buy rolls of wrapping paper you'll throw away after they've been used.
- If you're particularly crafty, you could try making your own wrapping paper. Most plastic Christmas wrapping paper isn't recyclable, so buy some plain brown paper and use stencils or stamps to create a unique design for your family and friends. Or even use newspaper, with a bit of ribbon this can look festive!
And shop local!! Save energy by walking to the shops rather than driving!