When it comes to finding the perfect Christmas gift, it is the thought that counts. Now, more than ever, it is important that you consider provenance, ethics and sustainability when buying Christmas gifts. This can be a challenge, particularly those who are used to buying at the click of a button.
The important thing is not to aim for perfection, but to try as hard as you can to make small changes wherever you can. Every piece of packaging you can avoid, every change that you make – no matter how small, could contribute to mass change in the future.
Here are some top tips for buying ethical Christmas gifts, making your Christmas less about material objects and more about those thoughtful touches.
Make Your Own
You don’t have to be an artist to make somebody a Christmas gift! Hampers are a great idea; they are thoughtful, personalised and, if you shop wisely, they can be entirely ethical. Find a beautiful recycled box or basket and fill it with goodies; food for foodies, or a vegan candle, book, and indulgent chocolate truffles for someone who deserves a little pampering. The options are endless; if you know a beer lover, get them a selection of beers, preferably from a local microbrewery; likewise, a locally distilled gin is a great gift for a gin fan – pop in a bottle of tonic, a couple of steel straws and some cloves and dried grapefruit for the perfect night in!
Shop at the Markets
Christmas markets are no longer the preserve of cities; there are pop up Christmas markets popping up everywhere with a huge array of produce from artisan cheese to local honey and everything in between.
Don’t just go to the bigger, commercial markets, check out the smaller, local ones, too; you can pick up some fantastic artwork such as woodwork, pebble art and even knitted gifts! A woolly hat, a warm mug of mulled wine or hot chocolate and a browse through the local market stalls is enough to warm your cockles and fill you with festive cheer.
Sustainable shopping isn’t just about venturing out to those pop-up markets once a year, it is about supporting local businesses all year around. If you haven’t been to your local grocer’s, gift shop or bookshop for a while, now is the time to start.
You will be surprised at the ever-changing array of products available and with a rise in community-run health food shops, there are always new and exciting things becoming available. From plastic-free toothpaste to beeswax wraps, artisan produce to Himalayan salt lamps, if you take the time to look locally, you might be surprised at how much you find.
Give Your Time
So many people have such busy lives that they find themselves having to schedule time for friends. The days of “popping in” are long gone and by the end of a long working week, followed by a weekend of household chores, it can seem impossible to fit in time with friends.
If you know someone who is always on the go, why not give them your time or skills as a gift? Parents of young children always appreciate a “free night out” pass, while nobody can resist the offer of a lovely meal cooked for them. This is a particularly good gift if you are struggling to find a Christmas present that you can afford for friends who seem to have everything!
Give to Charity
For a gift that keeps on giving, why not buy a gift for someone in need? There is a whole array of choice, so shop around until you find a charity that you think will appeal to the recipient. Choose from solar panels or bore holes in developing countries; as an extra special gift, you could even consider long-term sponsorship on someone else’s behalf.
Buy Recycled and Upcycled
No matter what we are doing to combat climate change, one this is certain: our obsession with continually buying new possessions has got to stop. If you MUST buy someone a specific gift, try to go second hand, recycled or upcycled wherever you can. You can get some incredible recycled glass products, from glasses to mobiles and paperweights.
Don’t think second-hand; think vintage! That small re-branding will help you to escape our obsession with buying new in favour of sustainable, pre-loved shopping. There are multiple platforms from which you can buy pre-loved gifts; charity shops; Christmas fayres; auctions (online and off); and social media sites. It’s a chance for you to make a bit of Christmas cash from your unwanted items, too.
Maybe you eschewed plastic years ago, you enjoy a plant-based diet, or you are an avid upcycler. Or maybe you are only just venturing into the plastic-free world and all that it has to offer. Wherever you are in the journey to sustainability, congratulations! Because these small steps will change the world. So, be conscious of what you are buying, where it has come from, and if there is a more sustainable choice, but most of all, enjoy!