Ethical Christmas Gifts
Last year, it was estimated that Britons would spend over £16 billion on Christmas gifts. That’s
a lot of money on wine and hampers and wooly jumpers, and even more when you take into
account that many people opt to exchange their gifts and many more make additional purchases
during Boxing Day sales. “It’s the thought that counts” is swiftly losing its place in the holiday
season, but is there a better way?
Let’s face it, a big part of the modern Christmas is the materialism, and no one likes to look
under their tree and see nothing but the carpet. But there is a way to both exchange gifts and be good to our planet, and it’s quite simple: purchase ethical presents. That means that instead of heading down to your high street shops, you instead make purchases of organic products, products that have been sustainably sourced, are fair trade, locally-made, and/or made out of recycled materials. Making ethical purchases means that you are buying products that are free from human, animal and environmental exploitation, purchases that not only benefit you as an individual but also benefit the world around you. Where can you make these purchases? The British Association for Fair Trade shops allows you to search for fair trade stores in your area, or, if you prefer shopping online, you can head over to Green Tulip, Traidcraft, The Ethical Superstore, and other websites for everything from jewellery and jumpers to Christmas puddings.
If you want to go a step further, you can avoid material gifts altogether and give the money you would have spent on Christmas gifts to a charity. Or you could do a bit of both, as my family and I did one year, purchasing only a few small things for each other and using the rest of our Christmas budget on purchasing something through World Vision, a Christian organisation that puts out a Christmas catalogue of charitable gifts you can buy, everything from fruit trees and sheep to HIV and AIDS care kits, all of which goes to those in need to them. In the UK, Oxfam Unwrapped does similarly, allowing you to spend from £5 to £3000 purchasing items such as a share in a farmyard, a goat, or safe water. Oxfam then sends your gift to where it’s needed most, to countries all around the world. There are other options available in place of catalogue-style gifts, such as adopting an animal or making a monetary donation. Any way you choose to do it, however, you can rest assured that you are embodying the true spirit of the holidays: making someone else happy.
Photography: James Willcox @Flickr