Hallowe’en has passed, the shops have stocked up, the ads are on the radio and it is only a matter of time before we see the Coke ad on TV. So I’m going to say the C word, brace yourselves… Christmas is next month and the opportunity to make a difference is greatest at this time of year.
People are more receptive to presents than to learning about ethics and sustainability, so by giving people ethical, sustainable presents you can show them that it isn’t all hemp clothes and dreadlocks. It can be anything you want it to be, but it makes a positive difference to the world.
At this time of year, with much of the nation buying, wrapping, posting and cooking things for their loved ones, the environment takes a massive hit. So why not try and give your friends and family something good to talk about? So if it is simply buying your Christmas cards from charity shops, regifting last year’s unwanted presents or even deciding to make your own gifts, try to do one thing this Christmas to make it good for the Earth too.
Try and open any presents carefully and you can use it again to wrap someone else’s gift! If I am buying new wrapping paper though I try to reduce my personal deforestation by getting recycled wrapping paper. Paperchase sells 3m rolls of gold or silver recycled wrapping paper for £2.50 and 5m rolls of plain brown craft wrapping paper for £3.00. If you want to make it a bit more festive, pick up these Christmas-y stamps while you’re at it and just go mad on the wrapping paper! Art!
If I need to buy anything I always like to take a quick look at what my favourite charities sell. Almost all charities sell Christmas cards and wrapping paper but most of them have a great range of gifts.
People often forget, however, that you don’t have to get *things* for Christmas; tickets and experience days have no waste and are guaranteed fun! Why get that difficult person a DVD box set, shower gel set, or (my fallback for my brother’s presents) a random assortment of small, cheap things that he might like? Instead, give them memories.
If you want to be even more thoughtful, why not give them an Oxfam Unwrapped present? In lower sixth we did Secret Santa and the “Lad” of the year gave me an Oxfam Goat rather than the penis-shaped pasta I was expecting. I was so surprised; it was a genuinely wonderful gift and seven years later (I sincerely wish I hadn’t worked that out now) it is probably the only present I still remember from that Christmas. You can give all sorts of presents too, not just goats, so click here to see them all.
Similar to this, and perfect for those last minute moments of true desperation is the gift of charitable donations. Personally, I would much rather someone make a £10 donation to the Salvation Army or to UK Food Banks in my name than give me another £10 bath set from Boots. Not only do these presents directly help a good cause but it also means that my gift is sustainable, ethical, charitable and thoughtful. No damage is done by this present, only good.
And last but certainly not least is Christmas Dinner on the big day itself. People have their own traditions and enjoy familiarity at Christmas Dinner but by just changing little things you can make a big difference.
By purchasing your food from local grocers and butchers you can help to support small business owners and the local economy. If they don’t stock whatever it is you need though, both Marks and Spencer and The Cooperative have great ethical standards so try these options before ransacking Tesco.
By cooking for the number of people you have rather than a feast fit for a king you can also reduce wasted food (although we all know how good Christmas leftovers are).
Edited by Caroline Chan
Wrapping paper gif: http://giphy.com/gifs/gift-cat-christmas-GYtaPKEARaV6E
Present gif: http://giphy.com/gifs/funny-christmas-wCWi7H7Skd7Y4