During the first lockdown, as news stories indicated that pandemics like Covid-19 could be the result of our unsustainable consumption practices, many of us made resolutions to change our habits. Veganism soared and people made pledges to walk more, reduce consumption and shop local.
As we go merrily along into the Christmas period, it’s time to come through on those promises.
The perfect low impact gift
When we think of Christmas, we often think of presents. In fact, the average Brit spent over £300 on Christmas gifts in 2019. With many households time-rich and cash-poor this year, it might time to explore some alternatives to the traditional Christmas gift.
Getting fully involved in a good hobby is an excellent way to pass the long nights and raise the spirits. Why not turn your craft into presents? Crochet a blanket or bag, make a scrapbook full of shared memories or hand pour beeswax candles into old cups or pots and infuse them with your own essential oil blend. Simply swap the beeswax for soy flakes for a vegan alternative.
Give your time
You don’t have to spend money to show you care. Make a promise to help an elderly relative clear out their attic or garden. Volunteer to babysit for stressed-out new parents or pledge to wash your spouse’s car for a month or two. Depending on restrictions, you could even just give someone a regular call if you can’t visit in person.
Give an experience
For a gift that lasts, give a precious experience to share with a friend. If you can afford the risk, buy tickets for a show and support the arts as they struggle through months of closure.
Get inventive and plan a trip, design an itinerary and fill it full of fun. Many of us have rekindled our love for the great outdoors so a membership for your local nature reserve could make a great present. The Woodland Trust have many excellent gift membership options and your support helps the Trust work to protect and increase woodland in the UK.
Give new life to an old item
Presents don’t have to be new. There is something special and unique in a carefully chosen second-hand or vintage item. Why not re-gift a favourite book and share the story with a friend. World of Books has a huge range of used books, including many recently released titles. For an extra special gift, why not find a vintage copy of an old-favourite or search for a special signed edition?
If you’re looking for technology at Christmas, choose much cheaper and more sustainable used or refurbished models.
If you need to buy new, buy ethical and buy local
So, it’s got to be new but where do you go to find a gift that is aligned with your values? Retail is an industry riddled with issues: unethical supply chains, polluting factories, waste and carbon emissions, to name just a few. Amazon will be looking forward to particularly big profits this year as they cash in on consumers stuck at home. Resist Black Friday style deals and don’t support tax-avoiders and people-exploiters like Amazon this Christmas.
There are plenty of ethical brands and retailers out there blazing the way to a brighter consumer future. Check out the Ethical Consumer website for a full list of guides on everything from fashion to food and mobiles to make-up. Look out for our Best Buy ratings and companies with high scores on our ethical rating system. Many retailers have online stores so you can get your shopping started during lockdown.
And, of course, buy local wherever you can. Many local independents are feeling the pressure of the lockdowns and although many are trying to take online orders, it’s almost impossible to compete with the big brands through these channels. Look for small ethical companies that take the time to understand their supply chains and focus on sustainable, plastic-free gifts.