At work, we often have a theme for our Secret Santa. This year, the theme was “ethical” and it got me thinking a lot about what that means. It took me a little while to come up with a gift idea. However, I came up with several different ideas that could all be ethical. I wanted to share some of those with you today. For me, ethical products are better for the environment, for animals and for people. Things that are locally sourced or perhaps handmade, supporting small local businesses. I hope this post helps you to plan ethical gifts and an ethical christmas holiday.
Look at the Materials, consider Plastic Free
The materials in the products matter. Plastic, for example, cannot always be recycled and often ends up in the sea. Some products are not renewable sources. Looking at the materials of the gifts we’re buying was the first step for me. I found some tea company that claimed that they had changed their packaging to be more sustainable. Though, when it arrived, each tea bag was individually wrapped in plastic – which was kind of disappointing. However, I think that was one of their older items. Their new change has introduced a plastic free packaging, which I like.
If your gift has plastic straws or, say, a plastic cup then it’s very easy to get a good alternative. You can get metal straws that are reusable or bamboo cups, for example. It’s not just plastic that is a waste but that’s a good place to start.
Think about: Where did it come from?
Whilst I’m all for importing and exporting goods and trade deals with countries, it’s always good to look at where the product comes from. Where possible, it might be worth investing in locally sourced products. Such as honey from the local bee farms. This can help your local economy, as well as reduce in waste (i.e. less carbon emissions).
Ethical could also be supporting small businesses. Buying from small independent businesses can be a really great way to help them grow, for example.
Since governments have started to acknowledge and declare that there’s a climate crisis in the world, recycled products have become much more popular. You can get a ton of different things made from recycled materials nowadays. I have seen some fantastic items from pens made out of old CD cases to pencils that you can plant into food.
Recycled products sometimes do cost more than standard items. However, it’s also much better for the environment in the long run. Sometimes, the cost is only a tiny bit more. At work, I ordered the work holiday cards and some other products we needed in the recycled option. It was only a few pounds more overall, so definitely was worth it.
I actually ended up making the secret santa gift that I was giving using some old packaging. The box I made was lined with some old cardboard boxes, to reinforce it. I also wrapped some cookies in tissue paper that came with the Christmas cards we ordered at work. That order also came with a bunch of brown paper to prevent the cards from getting damaged and a few of us took some to use as wrapping paper for gifts. I didn’t use it for this one but I have saved it for other gifts that I might need to give.
Reusable products are often much better than disposable. It saves on unnecessary waste. A reusable advent calendar, for example, will last you many years. Sometimes, you might need to dispose or change something every so often. For example, your toothbrush should be replaced every so often to actually clean your teeth properly. Instead of getting a plastic toothbrush, you could consider looking at alternatives like a bamboo toothbrush or an electric one, where only the head is replaced – so the amount of waste is reduced. These are very small changes that can actually make a difference. That and I absolutely love my electric toothbrush.
Sometimes, the packaging of the products or cards you give can also be reused. On a number of my holiday cards, I wrote the name and addressed it in pencil – specifically on the envelope. This way, they can erase the name from the envelope and reuse it for someone else. I’ll be honest, I did not do this in the card as I ended up writing personalised messages inside each one – and they were handmade to the individual.
Likewise, you can do the same thing on gift bags. Gift bags are very easy to reuse. You could also reuse wrapping paper, sometimes. I actually end up using a bit of wrapping paper I get in scrapbooking or memory keeping. However, if you do have some large pieces once you’ve unwrapped gifts, you could fold them up and save them for smaller gifts.
Ethical depends on the individual
At the end of the day, ethical depends on your personal views and beliefs. These are some of the things that I considered whilst putting together my gift. For me, I also wanted something that helped with the recipent’s happiness and mental health. So, I ended up including some artwork and made a self-care box for her. Promoting wellbeing is definitely ethical in my mind, as it’s something that’s very important to me personally. There may be other issues or things that you wish to share.
Other ethical products could be things that don’t involve any animal cruelty, for example. Body products that aren’t tested on animals or leather/fur free gifts.
Whatever you decide is important to you, I just want to encourage you to think about it. This theme has definitely got me thinking about how to give the best gifts, whilst taking care of the environment, animals or people around me. So I wanted to share, in case it was of use to you.
May you have a very happy ethical christmas ahead – whatever that means to you!