Ask anyone that knows me and they will confirm that I’m slightly ridiculous when it comes to buying Christmas presents. I’ve been known to have a long list on my phone months in advance with ideas of what to get people. I wrap everything meticulously with as many bows and ribbons as possible so that it looks like it was shipped directly from the North Pole. And I’d probably go as far as saying that my favourite thing about the festive season is giving someone a gift that I know they will love. Well, either that or drinking my body weight in mulled wine whilst watching Gavin and Stacey.
So, as you can imagine, when I embarked on this ethical journey of mine, it was how it would influence Christmas that worried me the most. The truth is, the most sustainable way to give gifts is to not give them at all. But that ain’t going to happen. Not in my festive household! Instead, over the past couple of years I’ve slowly but surely learnt some practices to make my presents as ethical, environmentally conscious and sustainable as possible. No, I don’t give everyone zero-waste, vegan bird feeders that I craft from old socks. But I have made small shifts which I like to think make a big difference collectively.
With the festive season only just around the corner (someone get me a cracker crown), I thought I would share my new-found wisdom in a bit of a blog bonanza. For the next week, I’m going to have a post going out every single day dedicated to helping you be a more ethical gift giver. Starting now, with these 7 questions that you can ask yourself before you buy that gift for, well, anyone!
1. Can I give this person an experience?
There’s nothing more sustainable than a gift that isn’t physical! And whilst I would probably forgo the whole “I owe you one hour of sexy time” thing, experience days or the promise of taking someone to do something they love will always go down well. Whether it’s afternoon tea at the Ritz, or something a bit more low key (and local!), making memories is a pretty damn ethical.
2. Can I give this person consumables?
Consumables are second best after experiences in the “things that don’t stick around on the planet for long” category.
Opt for liquids in glass bottles (who doesn’t love finding Champers under the tree?), sweet treats from your local bakery or preserves in glass jars where possible. Another great option is to buy in bulk and then split it up so that you can tick a few people off your list and reduce your packaging at the same time.
3. Can I make this myself?
If you’re one of those people that are blessed with a talent like knitting or painting or baking or the patience to pursue any of those hobbies, utilise it! Creating something yourself from scratch is almost always the more sustainable option.
Plus, there’s little nicer than opening a gift that has been hand crafted just for you!
4. Will the person I’m buying this for actually use it, or is money/a gift card the better option?
I know, I know. There’s just something not as magical about a gift card or cash in an envelop. But, in terms of sustainability levels and the happiness levels of the person you’re buying for, giving the equivalent in cash of a gift you’re not certain on is the better option. It means that your loved one can get something they really cherish, instead of something that sits on a shelf a respectful amount of time before going straight in the bin.
Stick a bow on the envelope to make yourself feel better!
5. Can I get this with less packaging, or in packaging without plastic?
Listen, I’m not expecting you to have a zero-waste Christmas. God knows mine won’t be! However, there are often a tonne of options with less plastic, even if not none. Try and find food in cardboard boxes, bubble bath and oils in glass bottles and cosmetics made from recycled and recyclable packaging.
6. Is there a cruelty free alternative?
Spoiler Alert: The answer to this question is always “yes”. Use Locigal Harmony’s Cruelty Free List to help you find one.
7. Can I buy them something from Beth’s Ethical Christmas Gift Guides instead?
Over the next 6 days I will be sharing 6 separate gift guides to make sure that you’ve got all of your ethical bases covered: From charitable cards and something cute for that new born baby in the family you’d forgotten existed, to presents that will wow your besties and impress your Dad.
I want to make sure that you can find the gifts that are most in line with what matters to you. So, each of my gift guides will contain little symbols to signify exactly why I consider every item to fall into the “ethical” category. I’ve also tried to include a variety of price points.
Make sure you keep your eyes peeled for first one going up tomorrow which is full to the brim with stocking fillers, Secret Santa ideas and smaller gifts all under £20!