A Student’s Guide to Ethical Christmas Shopping

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‘Tis the season to be jolly. Nonetheless, our bank accounts are less excited by the prospect of Christmas. Christmas is expensive. The average UK household exceeds its usual budget by £800 during December. It doesn’t require Sherlock Holmes or Sheldon Cooper to calculate that, collectively, we spend a lot of money. But what if we could put that money to better use? What if, as well as treating our loved ones this Christmas, we could also treat those less fortunate than ourselves to some love? Sometimes the things which seem too good to be true are, in fact, true. Without further ado, here are some ways to shop ethically this Christmas.


1. Unicef allows you to flit between a worldwide array of local markets without leaving the cosy confines of your bed. These online markets boast jewellery, fashion, homeware, and gift ranges from Bali & Java, Brazil, Central America, India, Mexico, Thailand, The Andes, and West Africa. Each purchase supports a real-life small business and helps protect children from danger and hunger. Buying a handmade, Peruvian necklace could provide Polio vaccines for over one hundred children – and it would make a nice change from the usual scarf you buy your mother.


2. Fast fashion sounds fleeting, but its impact is profound. After learning of the deaths of 1,100 workers in a Bangladeshi garment factory in 2013, Charlotte Instone, a student at the London College of Fashion, found herself propelled towards action. The result was a new fashion line called ‘Know the Origin’, which eschews sweatshops and instead puts sustainable, ethical clothing at the heart of its ethos. As well as selling a diverse array of men’s and women’s clothing, the company has branched out into plastic free living, beauty, and gift ranges, making it the perfect whistle-stop online shop. Though it is undeniably a more expensive brand than Primark, the 25% off sale until the 30th November is a definite sweetener, making the site well worth a quick perusal.


3. Another brand combatting fast fashion with sustainable, ethical clothing is Nobody’s Child. It is a relatively young company which sources eco-friendly fabrics, including end-of-line materials. Best of all, it is perfect for students doing their Christmas shopping, with the current 50% off sale complementing the existing Unidays discount.


4. Christmas would not be Christmas without a delicious chocolate coating. Yet, it is best to shop for fair trade treats. A great brand is Divine, which was borne of an initiative to help farmers in Ghana sell their own cocoa. In 1997, these farmers began to export their chocolate to the UK. Divine consequently achieved its goal of establishing a market for Fairtrade chocolate and, to this day, it continues to put farmers first. Importantly, its vegan collection means no one is excluded from this ethical delight to the senses. Furthermore, there is still plenty of time to purchase a Divine advent calendar to help you count down the days until Christmas.


5. Christmas is the perfect occasion for a really good book. Hive.co.uk is an online bookshop allowing you to shop from independent booksellers. You can purchase books, eBooks, DVDs, CDs, Vinyls, music, and stationery, all of which are made affordable through a student discount and free home delivery. This makes it a perfect replacement for Amazon. By choosing to shop online at Hive, you can help destabilise the monopoly held by large corporations.


6. Covid19 has hit local businesses hard. However, there has been a real push to move businesses online to help save them. The Online Christmas Fair is a great place to start shopping to help out, providing a coherent list of businesses, ordered by product type to help you find the perfect gift. There is also a similar initiative local to York,  meaning you can still visit the Shambles online. Though it will not be the same as attending in person, at least the mulled wine will be less extortionately priced.

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Felicity Williams

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