It’s hard to believe it but the festive season is almost upon us once again, which means it’s time to shop for presents for our loved ones (and for our children’s teachers, our hairdresser, the garbage collector etc. etc…). I’m not exactly sure how or when this time of year became so heavily associated with frenzied gift buying, but for many of us it has become yet another chore and a major source of stress. After all, who really wants to be stuck in traffic, fighting over parking spots and wandering around brightly lit shopping centres when we’d all rather be at the beach?
Following we provide what we feel are some more ethical alternatives to conventional gift shopping that we hope will make your festive season more meaningful and less of a headache.
1. Gifts that support people in developing countries
A great option for those looking for gifts with more meaning is to buy from one of the many organisations and companies that sell goods produced by people in developing countries. Not only are the products usually unique and handmade, you can feel good in the knowledge that your purchase is providing a source of income for people in need and helping them to achieve financial independence. Oxfam were pioneers in this area and their catalogue is full of gorgeous bits and bobs made by craftspeople in countries such as Cambodia, Peru and Zimbabwe. You can view it online here: http://www.oxfamshop.org.au/. There are lots of other similar online shops where you’ll find a wide range of products, including toys, jewellery, homewares etc. A few of our favourites include: Global Conduct (http://www.globalconduct.com.au/), and Tribes and Nations (http://www.tribesandnations.com.au/default.aspx).
2. Shop Local
Buying gifts made by artisans in developing countries may be a great option for some but we know others prefer to keep it local. So, instead of heading to the shopping centre this festive season, why not support small-scale, Australian-based producers by buying your gifts from them instead. There are loads of local craftspeople around producing amazing and unique goods. You may find them at your local shops or markets but another great place to search is the online marketplace Etsy (https://www.etsy.com/au/). While Etsy is a portal for a huge range of handmade and vintage items from all over the world, if you add ‘Australia’ at the end of your search query (such as ear rings, ceramics, iPhone case etc.) you’ll ensure that your gift has been produced close to home.
3. Ethical Hampers
For those wishing to support ethical food producers this festive season you could give your loved ones an ethical hamper. There are several websites selling hampers consisting of Fair Trade and organic products but the ones I found were a bit on the pricey side. For a more cost-effective option you can easily make them up yourself. All you need is a pretty box or wicker basket, a bunch of ethical goodies, such as chocolate, tea, wine, biscuits, jams, cruelty-free beauty products etc. and some cellophane and pretty ribbon to wrap.
4. Charitable Gifts
Another great idea is to support your favourite charity or not-for-profit while getting your shopping done at the same time. Many charities and not-for-profit organisations sell merchandise as a way of raising funds so that they can continue their important work. Just imagine your little nephew’s delight at being given a furry koala backpack (as worn by none other than Prince George http://www.savethekoalashop.com/) or how rockin’ your teenage niece would look in a Sea Shepherd hoodie (http://seashepherd.unitee.com.au/).
5. DIY Gifts
Finally, for those who want to opt out of buying gifts altogether, why not make your own? Nothing will impress your family and friends more (except maybe a Tiffany’s bracelet or a bottle of Bollinger) than a beautifully wrapped batch of homemade goodies. You could make caramels, truffles, biscotti, salsa or soap – the possibilities really are endless. For some inspiration and how-to guides look no further than the queen of DIY Martha Stewart (http://www.marthastewart.com/search/results?keys=handmade%20gifts). There are also plenty of other websites where you’ll find ideas for homemade and DIY gifts, such as this one http://www.homemade-gifts-made-easy.com/.
We hope the above suggestions make your gift buying a more pleasant experience this year. Wishing you and yours seasons greetings and as always, please remember to consume with care!