With the Christmas season upon us it is now, even more than ever, so important to be kind to each other and kind to our planet. In the hubbub and excitement of Christmas we can sometimes get caught up in the shopping frenzies and forget that novelty gifts we may be tempted to buy can be damaging to our environment which, in turn, is damaging to us. That’s certainly not to say that you can’t treat yourselves, your friends, your family and work colleagues this festive season. There are some great ways you can indulge at Christmas whilst still being mindful to the environment. Consider setting a challenge for the most creative handmade gift, set a rule that all presents should be Fairtrade, or even trying to use recycled wrapping paper will help to make a difference. Introducing new ways to think about the huge wastage problem that occurs around Christmas is a great way to build awareness to the problem. At Vintage Child we are continuously working on new ways to bring you guilt free shopping; from recycled packaging to ethical manufacturing, and of course our bags are built to last so can be enjoyed for years to come without the need for a replacement. Keep reading for all your other conscientious gift shopping ideas and how to enjoy Christmas and do a little extra good in the world.
Buy carbon neutral:
First of all let’s talk about what carbon neutrality really means. It’s all about the balance between the carbon that you, or your business, produce (the carbon that you are then responsible for absorbing) and making sure that this carbon output is basically cancelled out. Another word we need to know here is carbon sink; this is any system that absorbs more carbon that it emits such as forest, oceans and soil. To reach carbon neutrality you need to calculate the environmental output you are producing and, in short, work out a way to cancel it out. The easiest, and most effective, way to do this is to offset your carbon emissions by donating money to re-build or protect a carbon sink, such as re-forestation programmes, environmental charities, biodiversity research and the like, which is what we do at Vintage Child. You can also go and plant a lot of trees, help with ocean clean-ups or become an environmental activist, but that’s a lot harder. One company who has done all of the above is Ana Louisa who, since January 2020, boast that they are now the first carbon neutral direct-to-consumer jewellery company in the world.
A really easy way to buy slow-fashion and get to choose from the absolute biggest range of ethical products is buying second hand! It’s also cheap and you will often get a great deal on items because they have been previously owned. The obvious choice for buying second hand is eBay, the one downside is that you may have to search a while for what you’re after, but once you’ve applied all your filters you’re good to go. Most items are still in great condition and if you’re feeling creative you can always put your own spin on your purchase and upcycle to make it a special gift. Like dying a bed set another colour, or repainting a picture frame. Other great second hand sources are the Depop and Vinted apps, or if you’re after clothing then go vintage on websites such as Rokit or Beyond Retro. There’s also the option, in this category, of pre up-cycled or repurposed products. There are an array of brands offering clothing and soft furnishings made from old plastic bottles, recycled polyester and recycled garments. Toast have a beautiful collection of house coats (they call them Kantha Gowns) ethically made in India from repurposed saris. The best recycled items will cost you, but they’re always well made and guilt free so it’s worth paying the extra.
You’ve probably seen Fairtrade stickers on your bananas at the supermarket, and that logo is exactly what you’re looking for. Fairtrade is a very specific set of standards designed to support manufacturing, mainly in the developing world, of an array of goods. At the moment the organisation focuses on small producers and agricultural workers, so food, drinks and textiles, and also covers precious metals, flowers and wine! So it’s great if you’re looking for edible presents or if you’re going to incorporate Fairtrade into your Christmas dinner. Buying Fairtrade doesn’t just mean you buy products that offer a fair wage either, their standards also require businesses to ensure their supply chain is sustainable and benefits the communities of the producers. Whilst the Fairtrade products are a little limited when it comes to gifts the best thing about it is that it covers all your bases when it comes to mindful shopping, making it the holy grail of conscientious Christmas gifts. And where can you buy Fairtrade? Supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s and Tesco stock a range of Fairtrade food and drink and charity shops like Oxfam and Unicef offer textile based items like rugs, cushions and toys. Keep an eye out for the Fairtrade Certified mark next time you do your Christmas shopping.