Back in September I made the decision that for Christmas 2015 I was going to try to make my present buying more ethical. I thought I would revisit it, with the benefit of hindsight and some stats, to see how it really went. By Mel Tucker
Back in September I made the decision that for Christmas 2015 I was going to try to make my present buying more ethical and make the money I spent go a bit further. I tried to ensure that every present I bought ticked at least one (but hopefully more) of the following boxes: Buy Social or from any social enterprise; charity; ethical; Fair trade; handmade; independent; local; reused/recycled/environmentally friendly.
My last blog was written part way through the process (which was going a bit easier than I has expected at the time) so I thought I would revisit it, with the benefit of hindsight and some stats, to see how it really went.
So did I manage to stick to the brief 100%? Honestly…not quite. My downfall was books and CDs. The book in question was a recently released crime fiction novel AND it was a disorganized, last minute purchase. So it was too late for me to order it online to arrive before Christmas and sadly I was unable to find a mainstream independent bookshop near enough who would have it in stock so I could get it at short notice.
I was very disappointed when my search turned up a couple of specialist independent bookshops in Plymouth but that was all. Obviously I made the best of the situation – I went to a proper bookshop – admittedly a large chain (we all know who I’m talking about, right?!).
Exactly the same scenario for the CDs – new releases, last minute purchases. So no time to plan properly but at least I went to an actual music shop to get them!
So what percentage of my present buying DID actually tick one or more of my boxes? Drum roll please… 92% of the presents I bought after making the pledge ticked at least one (often more) of my boxes. I’m pretty pleased with that.
Next question – how much did I spend? It would be easy to assume that buying more ethically automatically means more expensively but actually that wasn’t always the case. Admittedly, some items did cost more than I might normally have spent, for example, the social enterprise hampers I put together myself - the combined costs of the baskets and all the goodies to fill them was a bit high but not compared to the cost of other pre-packaged hampers I came across. Also, I found the hampers really personal and rewarding to make. The two I originally set out to give soon became four and I would definitely do it again.
I don’t have exact figures for previous years’ spending to do a proper comparison (I’m not that organized). However, I worked that I spent just over £20 per head (not including my children) or about £28 per person if you factored all the kids presents in. To be honest that’s about what I would have expected it to be (based on no experience, having never worked it out before!).
So as well as trying to make my family and friends happy (I hope!), here is what the money I spent also helped to support:
About 27% of my presents were handmade with the vast majority being from local crafters and artists. These guys not only furnished me with some really beautiful and personal gifts, but also helped me to make my cash work a bit harder than usual.
Doing this made me realise that this wasn’t quite the challenge I anticipated so there’s no excuse for leaving it as a one off! My new Christmas shopping strategy has begun!
If you are interested, below is a list of the rest of the traders, shops, social enterprises and charities I bought presents from and a brief description of what they do: