Christmas – that wonderful time of year which brings families and friends closer together, with presents wrapped fondly, vast meals cooked lovingly and decorations adorning our cosy homes. Unfortunately, this festive cheer can also bring with it the tonnes of presents and paper destined for landfill, beautiful trees dug up and then scrapped in large numbers a few week later, not to mention the huge amount of food waste.
Fancy having yourself a very merry yet ethical Christmas this year? Take a look at our Bristol-based ethical Christmas guide below for some hints and tips.
Ethical Gift Giving
Buying Christmas gifts can be a way of expressing your gratitude for a special someone in your life. But a significant percentage of Christmas presents end up either lying around unwanted (thanks for that… err… lovely jumper, Aunt Susan!) or even discarded in the bin. Some people may feel that it’s not very ‘Christmassy’ without having piles of presents to physically open, but what if your gift was a rather more caring, thought-provoking one? Just how many aftershave sets must we open or purchase before we decide enough is enough?
One option for avoiding unwanted gifting is to buy your friend or family member a gift experience. These can be purchased from hundreds of websites online or in shops. From cookery classes to spa days, you are sure to find something that your special someone will love (and remember much more than yet another box of chocolates).
How about donating to a charity in some way, to give to others far less fortunate than yourself? You can provide money towards worthwhile causes in your gift recipient’s name. There are so many wonderful ways in which you can do this nowadays, including:
- Giving an Afghan farming family a goat with Oxfam’s poverty-fighting program
- Adopt a snow leopard or an elephant with WWF
- Buying a family an Emergency Water and Hygiene Kit during natural disasters through established charities like UNICEF
- More locally, you could donate £39 to Caring in Bristol to pay for a local homeless person to have a safe, warm place to sleep and eat for 5 nights
The idea of presenting a card to say you have donated on your recipient’s behalf may seem a little too detached for some, but you can still buy physical gifts whilst donating to a charity. Bristol offers a great range of charity shops, including The Salvation Army, St Peter’s Hospice and Clic Sargent to name but a few. Not only are you donating to your chosen charity, but you are recycling goods at the same time. Try wrapping presents in newspaper, old wallpaper or old posters. They’ll look arty and save on wrapping paper.
Ethical Christmas Trees
Your Christmas tree may look pretty and green, but it can come at a high ethical cost. First, there is the environmental cost of the transport of your tree. Next, you may want to consider the potential of pesticides and harmful chemicals in the growing and production of your tree. If you are opting for a real tree, as opposed to the artificial type, make sure that you are buying a locally grown, organic tree.
Cleeve Nursery is a local company that guarantees their Christmas trees are ethically produced and locally grown. Their trees are always replaced by saplings in order to continue the tree’s life cycle of producing oxygen, clearing the air of carbon dioxide and providing support for wildlife.
Another idea would be to rent a tree. These trees are grown in pots, so you can welcome it into your home for the festive period before returning it and having it replanted in a field. The Bristol Bike Project provides a service through which they deliver your potted tree to your home from Hamilton House, by bicycle, no less! This saves the killing of a tree as well as the pollution of the car journey to collect it.
Ethical Christmas Dinners
Knowing the full story of the production of your Christmas grub can leave a sour taste in the mouth. Mass-produced food will always be of a lesser quality and produced with questionable ethics. Go for local, fair trade or organic items. It will keep your conscience clear and let you enjoy that second helping, while also keeping local firms in business.
By eating locally sourced turkey, you will know exactly how the bird was kept and exactly where. Farmdrop is a local Bristol food supplier which only sources meat from free-range farms, with the highest standards of animal welfare.
To reduce waste, you can always make a slap-up meal from the leftovers of your slap-up meal! Use as much of that turkey as possible in sandwiches, curries, stir-fries… And who doesn’t love a cheeky nibble on the roast potatoes sitting in the fridge for the next couple of days. Let nothing go to waste and you will reduce needless landfill.