It might be the season of good will but did you know, enough card packaging is used at Christmas to cover Big Ben almost 260,000 times?
Household waste increases as much as 25% over the festive season, and according to research, holiday shopping is leaving us all feeling stressed, anxious and miserable.
Even those of us who try to live ethically most of the time can struggle to find gifts for our loved ones which align with our own values. Everything from food to Christmas trees to decorations and presents come with ethical decisions to make.
So how can you keep everyone happy, be merry and have an ethical Christmas?
The #EthicalHour tribe have been coming together in the run up to the festive season to share their ethical and eco-friendly tips for surviving the holidays:
1. Give Good Gifts
Social enterprises and ethical businesses are working hard to make a positive impact with their profits. There are nearly 80,000 social enterprises in the UK and thousands of small ethical businesses with beautiful products for even the hardest to please.
When you purchase something from a small ethical business or a social enterprise you’re supporting a business owner’s livelihood and helping them make a positive impact too.
2. Make A Promise
If you’re on a tight budget, can’t think of anything you need or just want to do something a bit more thoughtful for Christmas gifts, you and your friends can exchange promises instead.
Stylist and confidence coach Roberta Lee, who works with ethical brands, has said she will be asking her friends to cut back their consumption of single-use plastics as their gift to her this year. To help them, she will be buying them a water filter and reusable bottle. What a great idea!
3. Give Something Back
Did you know that more than a billion Christmas cards will be dumped or burnt after Christmas? If they were laid end to end, that would stretch around the world 5 times!
Every year instead of sending Christmas cards I make a donation to charity. You could send loved ones a Lend With Care voucher so they can support an entrepreneur in a developing country to grow their business, or even buy them a Stand For Trees certificate and help protect precious rainforests.
Positive investment platform Ethex are providing the opportunity to bring clean energy to Sub Saharan Africa through their Energise Africa Investments, to bring solar power and economic opportunities to families.
Global Action Plan are running an Elfless Acts campaign encouraging people to do selfless things for friends and family this Christmas, instead of giving gifts. Their heartfelt suggestions are sure to be greatly appreciated by the receivers, and they’re budget friendly too! Why not promise to do a task they hate for them for a whole week? Or make sure there’s a cold beer in the fridge for them at the end of a long week? Presents don’t have to break the bank - it really is the thought that counts.
4. Give an experience
Instead of buying gifts for your family, treat them to an experience instead. Cinema or theatre tickets, days out or restaurant vouchers. Maybe even a course so they can learn a new skill. Anything where you can spend quality time together or try something new.
5. Choose an ethical Christmas Tree
Christmas trees pose a bit of an ethical dilemma. Up to six million Christmas trees will be incinerated or dumped in landfill in the UK when the festive season is over. That’s enough to stretch from London to the North Pole and back!
Fake trees might seem like a more sustainable option but they’re made from plastic, which takes five times more energy to produce and won’t break down when it eventually finds its way to landfill.
The real or fake debate rages on every year, especially within the ethical community. Luckily Pebble Magazine has a handy guide to choosing a more sustainable Christmas tree.
6. Find ethical alternatives
There’s an ethical or sustainable alternative to most products these days, and Christmas is no exception.
Keep This Cracker make reusable crackers which you can fill with your own favours and gifts. They even go bang! But there’s no annoying waste, just flatten them and pack them away for next year.
Wrag Wrap make stylish, reusable fabric gift wrap - they even have a version that crackles like wrapping paper! Or you could get creative and make your own using brown paper and ink stampers, or even old newspaper and recycled ribbon.
7. Reduce food waste
To make your dinner table a bit more ethical, avoid common traps like buy one get one free offers (they lead to excess food waste), try to shop locally and seasonally, and make the most of your leftovers. Try not to serve up dishes that won’t keep well and plan ahead to avoid serving up too much!
8. After the holidays…
Consider making some resolutions for the new year. What changes can you make to live more ethically and sustainably in 2018? List your ideas and work with your family and friends to make those small changes that will soon add up!
Whatever you decide to do, remember that Christmas is a time for joy. There can be a lot of pressure to celebrate in a certain way, and trying to have a more ethical holiday season shouldn’t add to that. Small changes can make a big difference so whatever you do this Christmas, ditch the guilt and do it your way.
Merry Christmas from all at #EthicalHour!
Thanks #EthicalHour, we're one of your biggest fans.
You're in for a treat. Today we meet Jane, the founder and curator of Blue Patch (also a talented illustrator) to discuss the mysterious treasures she would put into her metaphysical advent calendar.
From handmade gifts to ditching Amazon we love Karen’s brutal honesty in what an ethical Christmas could look like. It's not too late to make a change!