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How to have an ethical Christmas this year

Here’s how you can make more ethical spending decisions at Christmas to support sustainability with your spending choices.
Here’s how you can make more ethical spending decisions at Christmas to support sustainability with your spending choices.

Bite-Size Read:

  • Many of us want to be conscious consumers and make more ethical spending decisions.
  • You can minimise waste at Christmas by creating your own gifts, and using sustainable wrapping paper.
  • Ethical choices can also include choosing to buy gifts from local small businesses or gifting someone a positive experience they’ll remember rather than a product.


As consumers, many of us are choosing to be more mindful with our spending decisions.

Across multiple countries, 45% of consumers said they were making more sustainable choices when shopping. However, Christmas can result in lots of waste, including food waste, wrapping paper and unwanted gifts. The holidays should be a time when you can make spending decisions that are in line with your values so that you can really relax and really enjoy your time.



Here’s how you can have an ethical Christmas this year:


1. Gift an experience rather than a product

An experience means that you get to spend time with the person you’re purchasing it for. A gifted experience could include a music festival, an art exhibition or something more daring like sky diving.

  • It’s ethical because: You’re giving them a memory to remember rather than a disposable gift. 


2. Support small business when choosing your gifts

In our globalised world, many of us will buy our Christmas gifts online this year. Take the time to research the company first and buy your gift from a small business. It’s tough to start your own business and the best way to support business owners is by buying their products. If you have a friend who is a business owner and you like their products, this is a must.

  • Yes, it’s ethical because: You’re directly supporting an entrepreneur to live their dream of running a business.


3. Buy local when possible

Most of us buy Christmas gifts online and get them delivered. Unfortunately, this means that products are created elsewhere and shipped, creating unnecessary carbon emissions. When shopping for a gift, support businesses to grow in your local community by choosing to buy from them directly. You’ll find a variety of local products that you can buy as Christmas gifts at Christmas markets or craft events.

  • A super ethical choice because: By buying local, you cut back on the carbon created from buying overseas products.


4. Bake, make and create your gift

Products that are manufactured in factories have an impact on the environment. Making a gift yourself rather than buying one reduces that impact. This could be baking cookies, make photo collages or creating a unique gift like a piece of jewellery.

  • It’s an ethical choice because: Making a gift yourself reduces the environmental impact of Christmas gifts.


5. Buy a vintage pre-loved item

If you want to gift clothing or accessories this year, try going vintage. A quality vintage item already exists and you’re gifting a quality item that has stood the test of time. Rather than buying something new that involves additional manufacturing, you’re extending the lifespan of an existing item.

  • Buying vintage is ethical because: You’re extending the lifetime of quality items rather than buying something brand new.


6. Look at the product details to see how it has been made

Not all products are made the same. Look at where an item has been made and the ingredients used to produce it in the supply chain. You may discover unsustainable ingredients like palm oil, which can be found in everything from crackers to shampoo. Many large corporations will have an impact statement on their website to show how they are becoming more sustainable.  

  • Researching products is ethical behaviour because: You’re thinking about the supply chain impact when making a spending choice.


7. Source a sustainable alternative for wrapping paper

Christmas gifts wrapped in colourful paper under the tree is one of the quintessential Christmas images. However, once the presents are unwrapped, that wrapping paper ends up straight in the bin. Source sustainable alternatives including reusable gift bags, recycled wrapping paper or jam jars for gifts like homemade cookies, with many more options available. You can also keep your wrapping paper and reuse it next year to reduce the environmental impact.

  • It’s ethical because: You’re reusing products that otherwise end up in the bin. 



Making more ethical choices in how you spend money at Christmas adds up.

Simply switch up a few of your existing routines to see how you could choose a more sustainable option. Those choices all add up to help you enjoy a more ethical Christmas.

Written by Kate Crowhurst

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