For so many of us who celebrate Christmas, giving and receiving gifts is a big part of the ritual - the chance to treat those who are close to us, sit around the fire and exchange gifts, watch the pure delight and excitement that children experience on Christmas morning when they're lucky enough to wake up to the promise of new toys and special treasures.
The amount that people spend at Christmas is quite staggering - in the UK alone it's nearly £500 per person. And while there are many opportunities to do good, contribute to worthy causes, support livelihoods and communities and propel small business dreams with those pounds spent, the truth is that much of the average Christmas spend contributes to unsustainable mass-consumerism and a terrifying amount of waste.
The good news is that many of us are eager to approach giving in a more eco-friendly way, and there’s no doubt that the dialogue around sustainability at Christmas time grows each year. With that in mind, here are some of our thoughts that we hope you’ll find useful as you consider your Christmas shopping list this year!
By shopping from local small businesses you support your local economy, save on transportation miles reducing carbon footprint and help strengthen your local community. Buying local products and produce is a lovely and authentic shopping experience and the flow on through your region as local producers, artists, creators and small and independent businesses thrive will be widely felt.
Shop ethical and eco-friendly
Choose to spend your money with businesses that are operating in ethical and environmentally conscious ways. Look for vegan, cruelty free, fair trade or organic.
Many businesses are working hard to provide plastic-free packaging and reduce carbon footprint and waste as much as possible. Our research into local West Country suppliers has uncovered a huge number of incredible artisans and small businesses getting very creative in their bids to share sustainable, beautiful and fun products (including our current range of suppliers).
Use your spending power and support these businesses as they strive to share products that are kind to this planet of ours.
Keep it practical
Unwanted gifts are a big contributor to waste at Christmas time (including wasted money from the giver’s wallet!). One way to keep it safe and gift in a more sustainable way is to share presents that are practical while also being luxurious and a cut above the every day variant that you might buy yourselves.
Think items like beautiful, hand-crafted toiletries and personal care products or local artisan food and drink.
Experiences make for great gifts (particularly environmentally friendly low-carbon experiences!). They're also (in our opinion) make for some of the most memorable gifts. Favourite Devon experiences gifted in our household have included a wild food foraging course and luxury high teas.
Any stigma around second hand is dissolving and with the numerous online and vintage marketplaces available now there’s so much opportunity to gift pre-loved items. This is particularly worth investigating for young children!
Shop “slow fashion”
If buying clothing whether as a gift or for yourselves consider “slow” rather than “fast fashion”. Look for well made items and natural materials that will last a long time.
They may cost a little more but if you think “buy nice, don’t buy twice” you will save over time! And as always, look for options to support small independent retailers with strong ethical and environmental credentials.
Memberships to charities often come with a host of benefits and special perks while supporting to worthy causes. We recently signed our children up as RSPB members, it’s inexpensive and they receive some great magazines and learning experiences.
We hope that provides some food for thought. We are so interested to hear about your ideas too - please reach out or tag us on socials @sandandsparklesgifts.