How to do your green Christmas shopping this year
10th December 2020
by Anne Marie Fereday
Everyone knows that it can be tricky to choose what to buy friends and family for Christmas. For some, it can seem even more difficult to shop sustainably. And it will have to be done mostly online this year. But there are a wealth of sites, mostly small independent businesses, to answer almost all your gifting needs this year. Of course, there are many considerations when it comes to choosing gifts: from how the product is made, avoiding sweatshops and the use of materials that harm the environment, to how long your gift will last and what to do with the packaging. Let's take a look at the typical Christmas shopping list and see what is available...
Kids - children's toys can be an eco-nightmare, often plastic and with little indication of the supply chain. But there are alternatives, for instance here is an organic babies rattle (1) from Arket, (http://Arket.com ) a store perhaps familiar to those who know Bluewater. Their site also has a very good range of clothes for adults and children, often using recycled fibres, eg these boys swim shorts (2), as well as homewares and accessories.
Homewares - Arket (Arket.com) have also produced some useful household items that would make good presents, for instance, a recycled polyester laptop case for £25. Or If you prefer locally-produced crafts, how about these hand-made wooden bowls (3) from madeinotford.org. Usually, these are selling at the Saint Bart's Christmas fair in Otford but they are now available online.
Fashion and clothing - there are a number of ethical fashion sites who put sustainability at the top of their agenda eg howies.co.uk, Ninetypercent.com etc. But it's worth noting that also some of the high street's more established outlets are now getting in on the act, particularly with recycled fibres eg H&M, whose Conscious ranges (4) are a favourite of mine (see www2.hm.com). It is also worth mentioning vintage clothing, another growing trend in fashion. Bluewater retailers Urban Outfitters have a long-standing range of repurposed clothing called Urban Renewal, which can also be found online, www.urbanoutfitters.com.
Food and drink - local producers sell on madeinotford.org, including delights such as brandy truffles and Christmas puds (5). Our nearest refill shop, Eco Pantry (theecopantry.co.uk) at Seal Chart Farm, enable you to fill up on a wide range of foods and of course, there is a butcher/grocer there too. Or try Stanhill Fram (stanhillfarm.co.uk) just outside Swanley, from whom (during the current restrictions) you can collect pre-ordered food and drink. Otherwise, you may have heard of Planet Organic, who have recently merged with cosmetics brand As Nature Intended, and do a range of fresh groceries. They even sell takeaway meals! https://www.planetorganic.com/
Gardening - organicgardening.com offer a range of gifts including this illuminated bug viewer (6) as well as a range of seeds, plants, tools etc. They also sell experiences such as a vineyard tour and tasting with unlimited tea for two, for £45.
Stocking fillers - for Dad, why not this white stuff (https://www.whitestuff.com/) eco leather wallet? (7) PHB (phbethicalbeauty.co.uk) do a range of cosmetics, some in recycled plastic tubes, pointing out that their production is less carbon-intensive than glass, which needs to be produced at very high temperatures! And how about this gadget (8) which will fix a broken zip and maybe save another garment from the landfill? That's a bright idea from H&M (zlideon zip tab, www2.hm.com). If you want jewellery, check out the range of recycled silver and gold on wearth.com (9). Iansnow.com specialise in items made in India, which are fairly traded but also make use of recycled items such as silk saris. Auraque (https://www.auraque.com/ ) sell hats, gloves and scarves knitted from banana fibre (10)! Knowtheorigin.com sell gift sets and a wide range of good that are sustainably produced, often by independent businesses and with ethical standards (such as plastic-free) in mind.
Cosmetics and personal care - among the best environmental innovations recently has been the idea of refilling. This is to cut down on packaging, particularly plastic. BeautyKitchen.co.uk (11) offer a service whereby customers can send back the metal containers of shower gel etc and order new ones online. Our own St Martin's church is also offering a recycling service for those who save their plastic pumps etc, the items are sent to Terracycle, with payments made to charity.
Decorations - Peace With The Wild (peacewiththewild.co.uk ) have Christmas crackers that contain plastic free gifts, and eco-fashion retailers Thought (https://www.wearethought.com) have a blog which tells you how to make your own Christmas wreath and print your own wrapping paper (12)!
Choosing appropriate gifts versus waste is perhaps the most important consideration to remember when looking for Christmas gifts. Some might say that the ultimate green gift might be one that it's the about giving more than just stuff, instead some experience that could be enjoyed. Or why not simply give someone you love a bunch of flowers? Arenaflowers.com who were recently voted the UK's most ethical florist, will also a plant tree for each bouquet ordered. As do browser Ecosia.org, so if you're going to surf for any of these gifts, maybe start by downloading their app?
Happy (green shopping) Christmas!