It’s a challenge, isn’t it? To make sustainable choices, to buy ethically, to live out the principles we aspire to. Christmas presents us with this challenge, more than at any other time of year.
It’s a time for giving, but there has never been a more important need to stand back and think about what we give and the consumer choices we make, if we are to address the climate crisis we face. Perhaps you have Christmas giving all wrapped up for this year but there is still time to reflect on what you might do differently next year.
It seems sensible to look out for gifts that are useful throughout the year rather than targeted purely at the Christmas seasonal market. And what about eco-gifts – plastic free, zero carbon footprint or recycled. Sounds desirable but how easy is it to do this and where can you find such gifts?
In Harrogate you might want to pop into the tiny Fair Trade Shop located in the former porch of St Peter’s Church on Cambridge Street. The shop, run entirely by volunteers, has a great variety of fair-trade and artisan gifts from around the world. A little further afield is York’s Shared Earth which sells fair-trade, eco-friendly, recycled/re-made and ethical products.
Shops like this offer an alternative narrative to the festive feeding frenzy, one that seeks to make us think about what and why we buy, and also about the care that has gone into creating such gifts.
When we buy any goods or services, we are effectively investing in the company that sells them and we need to ask which companies are doing well at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from their production processes?
If you’re thinking of buying food or drink as a gift take a look at the Taylor’s of Harrogate website. This family run business has been working to reduce its carbon footprint since 2015 and through a whole range of initiatives now produces tea and coffee that are carbon neutral.
Shops like Cave and Castle in Knaresborough offer a range Eco-friendly & zero waste products, including gifts, gluten free foods and health & beauty products. Charity shops have a boutique rather than cast off atmosphere and are treasure troves for the recycled. Presents like this don’t cost the earth.
Centres like 27 West Park and Space in Harrogate provide the shopper with a range of antique, vintage and retro gift options. From furniture to jewellery, vintage clothes to collectable LPs, these are items that have no new carbon emissions cost but have a history, have been made in a different era, are restored, handmade, endowed with a social past.
In an age when a lot of households are haunted by the gifts of Christmas past, is there an alternative present you could give a loved one? The Gently Sustainable website suggests that you might want to offer your time to someone – helping with the garden, making a meal, babysitting - bearing in mind the requisite skills needed.
Handmade gifts, whether its homemade jam, a garden bird feeder or a hand painted watercolour of a favourite place allow for an exchange that means more than the gift itself – memory, connection, time invested.
Zero waste experiential gifts offer something similar – whether its tickets to see something at Harrogate Theatre, painting classes at Rossett Adult Learning, a sky diving jump for someone you’re not too keen on or vouchers for the Turkish Baths, but do consider the full carbon cost of such gifts, before you splash out.
Giving can mean so much more when you think about it.
Author: Jackie Kirman