The Challenge of an Ethical Christmas

Christmas is a time when even the non-consumers amongst us often get swept up in a frenzy of shopping, wrapping and regretting. That exciting $15 toy from Kmart is a source of huge excitement until it’s on the floor broken 20 minutes later. The drive to find the perfect gift at the perfect price (often at the last minute), means that it is all too easy to abandon our normal purchasing values.

Purchasing gifts that are environmentally and socially responsible is incredibly complex, regardless of how committed you are. Case in point, my quest for a chess board, produced under fair working conditions from environmentally sustainable wood. Not easy!

In order to assist you, I’ve put together a few great ideas that I hope will help you to ensure that you don’t have to abandon your values in order to put a smile on a loved one’s face this Christmas.

  • Make your own! If you’re not crafty (I’m not), start off small by making your own wrapping paper or Christmas ornaments. If you are the crafty type, why not knit or sew a gift, prepare a painting, frame a stunning favourite photograph or put together an easy craft activity kit using natural or recycled materials for the kids in your life. Hit up Pinterest for some great ideas.
  • Bake. If your loved ones are nearby, why not delight them with some delicious home baked treats. This is an easy one to tailor to suit the individual and almost everyone enjoys gingerbread men, shortbread or rumballs to nibble on.
  • Charity Gifts. If you’re short on time, why not make a donation to charity in the name of your loved one and then give them a beautiful card to explain what you have done? This year, we have given a fish farm, maternal health education, emergency medical supplies, Indigenous education packs and helped a woman in a developing country to start her own small business. Check out your favourite charity, chances are they have options.
  • Ethical Gifts. Community development organisations such as Oxfam often have wonderful shops selling fair trade, environmentally conscious goods that are produced by small businesses throughout the developing world. There are lots out there, but being 900km from the nearest city, Oxfam is my favourite as it has a great website!
  • Service Gifts. If you’re anything like me, you neither need, nor really want for anything tangible. When was the last time the busy Mum in your life got pampered? Depending on your spending target, gift her with a pedicure, massage, facial or even a full weekend away.
  • Make yourself the gift. Sometimes, the greatest gift that you can give to a loved one is your time and full attention. Has it been a while since you gave your spouse a massage? Make a beautiful card (the content is up to you) and give them your undivided attention. Been a while since you spent any quality time with your Nan? Why not arrange to take her to a flower show / open garden and then share Devonshire tea together? Stumped on what to get your neighbour? Why not mow their lawn for a month? These are great options for those who may be short on money but can afford to set aside a little time.

See, it is entirely possible to rebel from rampant consumerism while still giving some wonderful gifts. Good luck!

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