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Your Easy Guide to an Ethical Christmas

Christmas. It’s a time for love and family, for feasts and feeling grateful, for giving and receiving, and of course the inevitable intense dinner table discussions with the occasional stress-induced outbursts of drama. What’s not to like?

Christmas is also a time of relentless consumerism, and as a result, a fair amount of waste too. We get really jolly, and in the process, can drift away from being…conscious.

So this little list is here to help you stay on an ethical track this holiday season. It’s simple stuff, and trust me, it will make the whole experience richer and more fulfilling.


1) Waste Not, Want Not

You are familiar with this saying. But let’s put it into some context-specific detail.

First of all, when you get gifts, you are going to discover things you don’t want, and also realize things you have currently that you now no longer need. Donate them. There are numerous organizations that would welcome it and put your things, electronic, household, clothing, or otherwise, in the hands that need them.

There is also going to be food. Lots of it. You’ll be making it, people will be bringing it, and leftovers only last for so long.

You can’t keep it all, and can only share so much with extended family and friends. And there are unfortunately seas of people beyond our doorstep that are hungry.

Find a good organization to take it to. Don’t let good food end up in the garbage.

2) Gift Experiences

In my opinion, this includes books, but let’s leave that point to stand its own ground.

Experiences are priceless. They invite the receiver to try something new, to connect to people, to even do something with you. This could be an membership to an art center, dance class, cooking group, wine club or museum. It could be a spa day, concert tickets, a language audio course, a crafts or indoor herb-growing kit. The possibilities are endless, and this will feel personal, thoughtful and inspiring.

3) Focus on Local

If you buy gifts, gift thoughtfully and intentionally. Don’t. Just. Buy. Stuff. Think of the person and make it matter! And buy things that support ethical, sustainable, and whenever possible, local brands. See our blog posts ‘11 Middle-East-Based Ethical Fashion Finds You Need to Know‘, and ‘The Hidden Costs of Fast Fashion and How to Become an Ethical Shopper‘, for some ideas.

Also, when you buy your food, choose ethical and sustainable suppliers whenever possible too. Seasonal is also the absolute best, so hit up those local farmers markets! (Souk el Tayeb anyone?)

4) Get Crafty

This includes making gifts and cards, because what’s more personal and thoughtful than that? There are endless choices online to walk you through making something special. Get creative, and you can even make it a family activity for more bonding time and fun.

Extend that bonding time into creating decorations. You don’t need to have crazy skills to do this. Again, the internet offers countless sources of inspiration and step-by-step guides. You can make a garland, a table setting, tree decorations, and so much more.

And of course, with the things that you do have to buy, try to focus on good quality so they are durable and don’t just end up in a landfill the following year. They can become the Christmas family heirlooms. Memories right?

Here’s some ideas:

Finally, let’s talk wrapping. As fun as it is to rip off, it’s a tragic waste of paper. Try to opt wrapping in newspaper, and because that’s not particularly colourful, put it in a great gift bag. Good quality gift bags can be kept in good condition and used again and again.


5) Make the Spirit of Service a New Tradition

If you can afford do donate, do it. Make it habit throughout the year, and check out our blog post to find out some concrete reasons why. Also check out a little starter list of organizations and sources at the end of this article that you can contact. We know there are so many more amazing groups out there so ask around and do some more research too!

Last of all: actual hands-on service. Volunteer. Alone, with family, with friends, in your community. Find the organizations and causes that matter to you, that you can make a steady and small commitment to. If you haven’t started already, look at the season of giving as the right time to get the ball rolling. Whether it’s lending a hand at a food bank, an animal shelter, a women and children’s relief center, supporting migrant workers, offering skills at the refugee camps, helping at an elderly facility, or involving yourself in environmental initiatives. There is something you can do.

Celebrate ethically, spread the love, and Merry Christmas!

Starter list of options:


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