Putting Some Christmas Spirit Into Your Christmas Shop

Submitted by SCM on Tuesday, December 1, 2015 - 11:05

As Christmas approaches, SCM member Emma Temple gives the lowdown on the best ways to do your shopping ethically this year.

So, as I’m sure you’re aware, Christmas is fast approaching! It’s the most wonderful time of the year – and for most people, the busiest and most stressful too. Most students are in the midst of exam preparation, on top of planning Christmas and New Year celebrations, trying to balance studying with end of term parties, and deliberating with limited success what to buy that difficult-to-buy-for relative, all on an end-of-term budget...

It’s likely that the last thing on your mind right now are the ethical implications of your shopping habits. However, there’s plenty of simple things you can do to make your Christmas shop more sustainable and ethical, and even save money while you’re doing it! Here’s a round-up of my top tips for ethical Christmas shopping:

Charity Shops

It used to be embarrassing to be dragged around charity shops with your mum looking for clothes, but nowadays bargain charity shop finds are greatly sought after in student circles. Now that vintage fashion is thriving, and living on a student budget is becoming increasingly difficult, charity shops are a great alternative to high street shopping. It’s not all musty old cardigans that even your gran wouldn’t be seen wearing – there are nearly-new books, clothes, DVDs, and homeware, all for fantastic value. And you know that the money you spend will be going directly to a great cause, so everybody wins.

Buying Guides

If you just love the ease and range of choice that high street shopping brings too much to give it up, ethical shopping guides are a great resource to help you decide where to shop for the best ethical impact. As well as recommending the top ethical retailers for almost all categories of shopping you might need, they also rate your favourite high street shops on things like sustainability, tax transparency, and employment standards. The SCM Ethical Student Living resource hub is a great place to look, where some wonderful people have gathered information from around the web into one handy place for you to access. It’s worth taking a couple of minutes to check which retailers are most on-the-ball when it comes to ethical practice – and the results might surprise you.

Get Creative

Remember, it’s the thought that counts when it comes to gift giving, so instead of spending lots of money on presents why not create something homemade? I know, this probably brings to mind hideous primary school memories of Christmas decorations that are essentially lumps of dried pasta shapes, glitter, and PVA glue. But homemade doesn’t necessarily mean shoddy! Why not try baking cookies or making jam for your housemates (it’s really a lot easier than it sounds!), perhaps make a playlist of songs you think your music-obsessed friend will love, or a scrapbook of memories you’ve shared with your family. The possibilities are endless, and instead of buying yet more new stuff which uses the earth’s resources and adds to the profits of morally dubious corporations, you create a truly personal gift for next to no cost. Again, everybody benefits!

Still not satisfied?

If the pull of the high street bargain stores is just too strong to resist this Christmas, then don’t worry – we can’t all be ethical-buying experts all the time! And some people argue that boycotting huge multinational companies isn’t the most effective campaigning method anyway. But perhaps consider taking a stand in a different way, such as writing to your favourite shops to let them know the concerns you have about their practices, or getting involved with a group that campaign for better practices from big corporations. SCM have created a useful letter-writing guide in the Ethical Living resource hub to get you started. Every little helps in the fight against unethical retailers!

So I hope that you’re feeling inspired to think twice about how you shop this Christmas. Take some time to pray about the effects your actions might be having on others around the world, and let us know your top tips for ethical shopping so we can all try together to live more sustainably and thoughtfully.

Tags: ethical shoppingChristmasAdvent