Sustainability has been the key word throughout 2019. We’ve learnt more about our excessive meat eating, over-pollution by transport, and the devastating effects that fashion is having on the environment. But Christmas isn’t an easy way to reduce our waste. Buying presents is a multi-billion pound industry that the economy relies on. So how can we combat this seasonal waste? With gifts that give back, both to people and to the environment!
The most obvious point of call is a visit to your local charity shop. Outwardly, they might not offer the pleasingly visually merchandised experience that we’re used to in most retail shops. But they can be a treasure trove of unique, personable gifts, which not only mean that the recipient is less likely to be given something that someone else has, but also supports worthy causes that rely on charitable donations and the willingness of shoppers to buy second-hand. And in an age of excess, it helps to reduce fashion pollution, whilst saving you a pretty penny. Definitely a win win situation!
Car boot sales, market stalls and certain online stores are also another great source of gifts, and again you’re buying second-hand. But, what do you do about that one individual who sticks their nose up and shuns second-hand wares? You can still give with conscience by buying brilliant gifts like these…
For the designer lover, there are plenty of brands out there doing their bit to aid those less fortunate. This year, Roland Mouret designed a t-shirt in support of The Circle, an organisation set up by musician Annie Lennox which campaigns for the education of women and girls around the world. A 100% of the profits are donated to the cause, and as an added bonus, the t-shirt is made from sustainable cotton.
For a brand where all products sold benefit someone, look no further than Ninety Percent. Deriving its name from the fact that 90% of its profits go to charity, the brand doesn’t just give to one worthy cause, it gives to many. Shoppers can vote online, from a selection of charities, to decide where money from their purchases will go.
From a high street favourite, H&M’s Conscious Collection means that you’re giving back to the environment. Since fashion is the world’s second biggest polluter, this collection aims to reduce this statistic by making its clothing from recycled fabrics. As well as creating a yearly premium collection in line with this ethos, it is having an impact on the rest of H&M. Currently, 26% of their clothes are made from sustainable materials, with a goal to increase this number each year.
For the food lover, all proceeds of ‘Heartfelt’, a cookbook by Pippa Middleton, go to the British Heart Foundation. Whereas for the gymgoer, for every Chilly’s X Refill water bottle sold, £10 is donated to City of Sea, a plastic pollution organisation tackling single-use plastic items. And for the homebody, who doesn’t love a scented candle? Personalised candles from The Little Market are made by refugees at Prosperity Candle, with 100% of the proceeds going back to the maker.
But once all these gifts have been bought, what about the presentation? Hours spent wrapping, only for it to be ripped off in seconds, leaving a pile of waste paper to bin (or recycle, but then much of it isn’t even recyclable)… Well other than neatly taking the paper off, and ironing to re-use next year, there are a few options that take some of that paper guilt away. Firstly, there are plenty of charity shops that sell their own designs in wrapping and gift tags, from the NSPCC, to the Dogs Trust, and Marie Curie to Barnardo’s. At Traidcraft, you can buy ethically made, fair trade wrapping paper, as well as more lovely Christmas gifts and cards. Whilst Re-wrapped wrapping paper is not only made from recycled materials and can be recycled afterwards, it’s sealed in biodegradable wrapping for protection, so is an excellent plastic-free option.
Giving more thought to the way you buy and what you buy for loved ones this Christmas doesn’t have to be an added chore. I hope you can see from this that it can be fun and joyous, with the added satisfaction that you are also giving to people less fortunate and helping to protect our environment. And, ultimately, isn’t this sharing of love, comfort and care, what Christmas is really all about?
About Our Author: Katie Calvert's background is in fashion and textiles with a first class honours degree in Fashion Communication and Promotion and experience in trend, PR and events. She decided to take the plunge back into education in 2015 to complete a Master of Arts in Multimedia Journalism. Using these newfound skills and her love of fashion and culture, Katie has been freelance writing for over a year.