As the festive season draws closer and thoughts turn to presents (both what to give and what to ask for), it can be hard to know how to make sure your gift giving will have a positive impact on the world around you.
We all know about the problems of high street shopping. Yet Christmas can be an odd time for conscious retailers because we know that the conflation of a spiritual/religious festival with consumerism is counter to the real meaning of the season, yet we still want to sell our goods. In fact, this time of year is crucial for online independent retailers because for many of us, up to 75% of our annual custom will happen in the next six weeks.
Short of buying nothing, the main way consumers can make a difference is, of course, by embracing the potential of second-hand and local shops. Though the products themselves might not always tick every ethical box, heading away from the high street provides a chance to buy really individual gifts often with a great back story. The community and economic benefits of supporting local have been well documented, plus you get the added bonus of a really personal experience from someone who really cares. For those trying to rid themselves of stuff, there are lots of schemes in which you can donate to local projects and campaigns that will bring pleasure for years to come. In my case, this is asking for contributions to a new museum for my city (St Albans) designed by the architects behind Kings Cross, a truly inspiring London spot.
Yet even those committed to supporting independent business and buying hand-made, can find it hard to know exactly where to start looking. That’s why we love (and support) the #GiveGoodGifts campaign, recently initiated by one of our suppliers, The Soap Co. The premise is to showcase the stories and sentiments behind companies that are doing good things via The Soap Co blog. Entries range from heritage present suggestions to guest posts from sustainability bloggers and the brands themselves. One of the best things about the #givegoodgifts idea is that it’s not just about creating a practical tick list of things to buy (though it does help with that). It’s also a movement towards making the world a little more beautiful, sustainable and kind, a little at a time, by helping consumers realise the power their spending decisions can have. So, we’re starting the beginning of the festive season with this collaborative celebration of ethical business to make sure that the goodwill and love we feel at this time of year spreads far and wide, and lasts well beyond Christmas day.