Have yourself an ethical Christmas
Our partners Ethical Superstore tell us their top tips to having an Ethical Christmas…
Gifts for friends and family
So the first thing you might think of when Christmas is approaching is gifts. It can be hard to pick the right gift for relatives you may not see often, so what do you do if you really don’t know what to get? Well, this might sound miserable, but why not forget presents all together? The amount of money wasted on unwanted Christmas presents is shocking, so perhaps agree to buy only for close friends or family, as long as everyone keeps the bargain!
Buying clothes can be a minefield - will you get the right size, will they like it, will they even just begrudgingly wear it the next time they see you, pretending they like it? Perhaps ask someone who is close to them if this is something they would actually like and wear, and make sure you ask their size!
Always include the gift receipt and tell them the receipt is with it just in case - this saves a bit of embarrassment, they can pretend they like it and then sneak off back to the shop to exchange it for something they will get use from. Another option is to get them a voucher for their favourite shop so they can pick something they like, however try not to get one of the plastic voucher cards!We are 100% against fast fashion, so we’d always recommend buying something that is made to last! Buying Fairtrade and organic clothing is one way to ensure the clothes you are buying are not just cheaply made fast fashion.
It’s important to spend appropriately - sometimes it is difficult for people who aren’t so well off to keep up. You may think you are being more generous by spending a lot of money on presents for friends, but don’t forget this can put pressure on them to spend a large amount on a present in return, so remember you don’t need to go overboard!
If you have a few children round at Christmas, then you can end up buried in packaging from presents. Children’s toys can often be the worst items for packaging, particularly plastic packaging. It’s not until all the presents have been unwrapped and you see the mountain of wrapping paper, boxes, and plastic that you realise the true scale of the waste!
Plastic seems to have got into all aspects of our lives and toys are certainly no exception. So what do you do? Well, it is hard not to get toys without plastic, so if you need to you should by toys that will last. A good quality plastic toy which can be enjoyed for years and then passed on is much better than a cheaply made throwaway plastic toys.
There are better alternatives however, with companies like Green Toys who use recycled plastic for all of their toys and package them in minimal cardboard.
But one thing that is making a big comeback is wooden toys! Wooden toys have a much nicer feel than plastic, are loved by children and have a timeless feel - plus won’t be resulting in bits of plastic floating round in the sea for hundreds of years!
Christmas Jumpers are for life, not just Christmas!
We’ve already mentioned ‘fast fashion’. You might struggle to see Christmas jumpers as fashion items but the principle is the same. As a general rule of thumb, the more unfashionable a Christmas jumper the better! But this has led to a boom in cheaply made Christmas jumpers available from discount fashion chains. They know the jumpers aren’t likely to be worn many times so they try to get away with making them as cheaply as possible. 95% of Christmas jumpers bought contain plastic, so they are only contributing to the plastic waste problem.
Being ethical at Christmas doesn’t mean being a spoilsport and it’s the same with Christmas jumpers. If you do buy one, buy one that is designed to last and actually be worn so you can use it year after year - the older and more years it has been used, the more authentic it is!
You could go one better and make your own Christmas jumper. Get an old jumper out of the cupboard and go to town - just make sure you leave your sense of taste and style at home when you make it!
Get your children into the spirit
Looking forward to Christmas and making it a fun time for yourself is certainly nothing to feel guilty about, but over the years as you grow up it becomes less about you and more about others. Remember back to when you were young - Christmas was an amazingly exciting time and in your mind, it was probably entirely centred around yourself and what presents you would get!
So, it’s a great idea to get your children to see the world doesn’t just revolve around them, Christmas is about helping other people as well. They are too young to be buying presents, so why not get them to make presents for family members? This gets them to think about others, and what they would like, not just which toys they want for Christmas.
Cut down on your waste
Using recycled and easily recyclable wrapping paper is an excellent way to reduce waste this Christmas. The production of recycled gift wrap uses less resource than non-recycled, making it a more environmentally friendly option. It’s important that you recycle your gift wrap after you’ve opened all your presents on Christmas Day, and encourage others to do the same, or it will just end up going to landfill.
One sustainable tradition from other countries, such as Japan, is wrapping gifts in fabric, which can then be reused by the recipient rather than thrown away. We think this would be a great tradition for us to adopt here in the UK, it would make Christmas less wasteful for everyone. To get you started on using fabric wrap, we’ve started stocking reusable gift wrap from Wrag Wrap, which includes double sided fabric wrap, reusable bottle bags and a set that includes both!
Do something for others at Christmas
Invite someone you know - the more the merrier! If there is a friend or neighbour you know who will be alone at Christmas, invite them round - it could mean the world to them.
Volunteering at a soup kitchen – this one is actually better not to do at Christmas. The numbers of people volunteering at Christmas spikes every year. Whist this kindness is great, there are few people volunteering at other times in the year. So make a promise and set a date later in the year to volunteer.
Take a dog for a walk – dogs deserve to have fun at Christmas too! A Christmas walk is a tradition for many families, so why not contact your local RSPCA centre and sign up for voluntary dog walking? Give to your local food bank - December is the busiest time for food banks, so why not take part in #foodbankadvent which is a reverse advent calendar. Instead of eating a chocolate from your advent calendar each morning (although technically you still could!), you donate an item to your local food bank every day in the run up to Christmas.
Ecotricity & Ethical Superstore unite on their mission to make every day choices more ethical and sustainable. If you switch your energy supply to Ecotricity, not only will your home be powered by 100% renewable electricity and carbon neutralised gas but as a thank you they’ll also send you a £50 voucher to spend with The Ethical Superstore.