Updated: Sep 4
Our Ethical Christmas Guide
On one hand (the theoretical hand) Christmas is a beautiful time to be with loved ones, think about the year just passed and celebrate your faith - on the other hand (the realistic hand) its a chaotic holiday of excessive consumption, spending and wasting, that often t be honest is more stress and arguments than peace and love.
Whilst we can't make your great grandma more liberal, or tell your dad not to fight with your brother in law - we can help you handle the excess side of things. So here's our guide to making Christmas more ethical with some gift ideas and general swaps for your festivities.
(remember these are all just ideas, not orders - we know sustainable options can be inaccessible to some and we do not like being classist when it comes to being ethical!)
Potentially the best part of Christmas Day - the food. Generally all the home cooking is pretty good compared to the fast food, plastic wrapped sandwiches and take aways that so often take up our meal times. However we have a few small ideas you can try out of you want to be a bit more conscious with your Christmas lunch.
Buy organic, local, fair-trade, or home grown ingredients where possible.
Switch to veggie or vegan alternatives - try veggie sausages, a nut loaf, etc.
Avoid paper cups/plates or disposable napkins etc. if you can.
Home cooking! We always used to bake our own minced pies instead of buying and it was great fun - same goes for making mulled wine!
Christmas is a fab time for activities too - we tend to just all end up in front of the tv to be honest! But there are so many more interactive (and environmentally friendly) options.
Take a long walk, if you live in the city it can be weird and wonderful to see the whole city shut down and silent.
Play a good old fashioned board game or card game (depending how competitive your household is I suppose...)
Have a read! How often do you actually get a full day off work where no-one will bother you if you curl up in bed with a book for a few hours.
If you like to get dressed up and have a bit of a party (remember to be COVID safe ofc!) we loooove the idea of buying a second hand dress or re-wearing an old fave - or even making one! (not buying a one-wear past fashion piece) and having a dance.
To be honest as cheesy as it is in a so-bad-it's-good way we love the idea of finding some matching vintage Christmas jumpers or pyjamas to wear for a full photo shoot. Is that just us?
A little sustainable home pampering might be in order too if you prefer a restful Christmas Day - why not make your own facial scrub with some oats or do a hot oil hair treatment with some leftover olive oil. (drop us a message on Insta if you want some DIY beauty recipes cos our Daisy used to be a beauty editor and she has all the info for you!)
Okay, onto the gifts now - whether you view them as the best or the worst part of Christmas they are a big part of it. So what canyon get as a sustainable Christmas gift for your bestie?
Mainly our advice is to make it personal and thoughtful, not to get swept up by the festive adverts and sales and the general excitement of new shiny things. (we've all done it and will likely all do it again! - but if it can be resisted we, personally, think these alternative can be evermore meaningful gifts.)
handmade jewellery (by yourself or an independent artist)
hand made soaps or candles (again - by yourself or a local artisan)
locally made produce for your foodie friends - jams, micro brews, beautiful cakes.
tickets to a play or concert that you can attend together
gorgeous natural beauty items - there are so many independent brands making vegan, sustainable, ethical luxurious products your glam friends will adore - again hit up our resident ex-beauty editor on our insta if you want specifics!
cook them a wonderful dinner - or take them out for one.
make them something crafty - a painting, a vase, or if you aren't creative give them an IOU. I still have a book of IOU's my sister made me about 10 years ago with things like 'you can have the last one of any food' which come in very handy to this day.
a day of pampering - you can find some lovely luxurious and ethically conscious spa days for a beautiful Christmas gift.
why not get them a day activity - a class, a workshop, a day at a gallery - we've bought bother parents experience days this year and we are hoping they will go down a treat!
literally anything second hand: vintage clothes, antique furniture, second hand home decor, a family heirloom... literally anything beautiful that isn't new.
This list wouldn't be complete without offering up independent, ethical fashion - there are so, so, so many young creatives making one off, sustainable, amazing clothes that any of your fashion friends will love. But buying clothes is a very personal thing, so we recommend checking what brands they love, or sneakily finding out any items they've had their eye on first!
a magazine subscription - our amazing parents signer me up to a yearly magazine a fe years ago and every year it is the gift that keeps on giving.
or alternatively a membership to their favourite museum (I've been given a V&A membership by me amazing godmother and getting to enter some of the worlds best fashion and art exhibits for free is endlessly useful and joyous.
why not donate to something in their name - not something random but a cause they really care about. Something that they fundraise for or viciously support, something really close to their heart. It can show how much you love them and understand them and gives something that genuinely helps the world.
As for wrapping these gifts we generally say you can avoid Christmas cards (especially if you'll be there in person when they open it!) and know that you can make some really beautiful packaging using newspaper, magazine pages, scraps of old wrapping or wall paper, or even by buying recycled or sustainable wrapping items. We love to decorate Christmas gifts with the addition of an old bauble or a clipping of mistletoe to make them special without making them wasteful. Ultimately the perfect ethical gift is something they will actually use and enjoy, not something they will toss out after it sits in the attic for a year.
It's going to be a green Christmas
Generally this is the season of excess, so as we always say try not to feel guilty of you don't have a sustainable alternative or if you just want to let loose and enjoy yourself for once. We can all be as eco friendly as possible and still get swamped out by the brands that are churning out toxic chemicals, avoiding paying their garment workers living wages, or a whole host of other things that should be the bare minimum.
There are basically ethical issues with every choice we make, and as much as we want to help you make your Christmas have a more positive impact maybe this small break we all get each year should be taking tome for some self care, after all the constant climate fear can burn us out just like we're burning out the planet. So do your best, but most importantly give yourself your best too.