The run up to Christmas should be a time of merriment and celebration, a time to spend with family and friends and a time to attend religious festivals. Instead, I’m stood in the middle of a stuffy department store, overwhelmed by pink labelled deals and offers and crying children and stressed mothers and the distant smell of mince pies handed to customers who spend copiously on presents. The whole shopping experience was overwhelming and migraine inducing.
It turns out that UK parents are splashing the cash like never before. A survey by bobatoo.co.uk found that the average sum spent on Christmas presents in 2017 was an eyewatering £500-700. This queasy figure begs the question: Has Christmas become a retail festival?
This year I have tried to shop as mindfully and ethically as I can and have found the process to be a lot less stressful and surprisingly quite enjoyable. Buying ethically encourages you to think about where your present has come from, the person who made it, where the materials/ingredients were sourced and how they are contributing to the planet.
The first port of call was wrapping paper. The sustainable and dead-cheap alternative that I have chosen is brown paper. It seemed like a no-brainer to me as it is minimalistic and can be decorated with all sorts of wonderful threads and fabric ribbons. It’s ethically-sourced too.
The next decision was where to shop. With an abundance of online marketplaces and shopping malls, I have decided to support independent and local businesses, whether they are online or in the streets of London. A few of my most visited online stores with varying price points are: Lucy & Yak, Ethical.Market, GLOW, Birdsong London and Oxfam Online. All of these brands are ethical to the core and all have strong social responsibilities. And a few of my high street recommendations are: second hand shops/vintage shops, Soap & Co, Arthouse Unlimited and LUSH.
Finally, and perhaps the most important pointer is thinking about QUALITY over QUANTITY. In order to shop with an awareness of our fragile planet, we need to be mindful about not over-buying gifts, buying ‘throw-away’ tat or buying gifts of little quality. All the brands recommended above sell quality products with a mind to their workers, their supply chains and the environment.
With two weeks left until the Big Day, don’t rush, please don’t buy useless tat and instead use that money to invest in a brand with a cracking social responsibility stance – I promise that you will feel better for it.