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Ethical and thrifty festivities

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To me, thriftiness speaks of a “make do and mend” attitude, a beautiful scraping of the barrel, a sense that less is more. Sometimes I think thriftiness is confused with ‘bagging a bargain’ and we accept that low cost for us sometimes means a high cost for someone else in the chain. And sometimes holding high ethical consumer values can seem out of reach for people truly on a budget- Fairtrade can be double the didgets, an eco label comes with a hefty price tag. I think even the best of us sometimes leave our principles at the door when it comes to Christmas as the pressure to BUY is so immense. These are the four ways that I am trying to keep it ethical and thrifty:

  • Buying secondhand is THE best way to shop ethically- utilising cast offs means essentially opting out of the supply/ demand system which wreaks havoc amongst the world’s resources. Over the last few weeks we have found some fab bits and bobs to go in our pressie drawer (we all have one, eh?) that aren’t new but we know people will enjoy. Ebay is an even more predictable way of buying secondhand goods – but I find less joy in it; mining piles of sticky jumble gives me a lot of pleasure.
  • For the last few years our extended family has just done Secret Santa- where all the names go in a hat and we are given a £20 budget to buy for one person. This takes the pressure off massively and £20 can get someone a really stunning fairtrade item. This creates soooo much less waste – or more space in the pressie drawer if you are one for ‘regifting’ (Not me though, I would NEVER) (Ha.)
  • Buying in bulk is the third way that I am trying to be ethically thrifty. I buy all my shampoo/ handwash/dishwashing liquid/showergel in huge tubs from Ethical Superstore. This brings it down to a very reasonable price and saves on packaging. Decanting some lovely organic showergel and crafting up a lush label is making a trusty quick, inexpensive gift for some friends this year.
  • The last one is equally as obvious but making pressies using up stuff you have is probably the pinacle of being ethically thrifty. There are a zillion and one ideas out there – #thriftythursday tag on twitter throws up some goodies – but the main point is to do something simple that shows your love for someone, innit? For me, this year, it is all about embroidary. I have a new embroidary hoop and a shed load of fabric remnants and, Oh my, it is the dog’s bollocks.

It would be pretty ridiculous of me to not mention this as I have been pouring my heart and soul into this for the last few months, but I also realise it is a shameless plug…

This Saturday on Oxford Street is Fair Christmas Fayre. It goes from 12-7pm and there are over 30 wonderful stalls, jampacked with eco/ fairtrade gifts. We started running this fair 4 years ago as we felt buying ethically was such a challenge in central London. There are a huge variety of items starting from a few pounds so if you live close by and want to have an ethically thrifty festive season do pop in and say hello! There is also live music, a fair trade cafe, vintage badgemaking and festive facepainting so it would make a cool day out for all the family.

Would love to hear your four point plan for being ehitcally thrifty this Christmas…

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