Christmas and Black Friday: forever the cause of a moral dilemma for ethical retail businesses like ours. Encouraging people to quickly and mindlessly buy things they don’t need doesn’t sit well with us at all, but nor are we exactly in a position to demand abstinence when it comes to shopping… we’re a retail business after all!  

Image Credit: @gaiaforwomen

It can be all too easy to feel Scrooge-like when you sit down and try to create some rules for keeping a handle on spending (and more importantly, waste) at Christmas, especially considering what a genuine joy it is to treat the people we love at this time of year. But there are little things you can do to rein it in and be more sustainable in our choices and actions without being the proverbial party pooper. We’ve listed a few simple things you can do to act more sustainably at Christmas at the end of this post, though what we’re really here to talk about is present-buying.

In our own Christmas shopping we’re always keen to make thoughtful purchases:

  • To avoid contributing to landfill or the pollution of our seas
  • To support small businesses and craft collectives
  • To take time and pleasure in choosing unique and lasting gifts for our loved ones

It’s virtually unavoidable that we’re going to be spending more money in this coming month than we do at the rest of the year. And it’s difficult to hold your nerve when we’re being bombarded by messages all around us that try to make us panic buy online and on the high street - but we encourage you to STAY STRONG! Use your hard-earned money as if you’re casting votes for the businesses and brands you want to see prosper and grow next year.

With the help of journalists like Stacey Dooley  and Lucy Siegle  plonking fast fashion and throwaway culture at the very forefront of our awareness in the media, there’s no shortage of inspiration out there for those keen to do things better Christmas. Here are some of the brands and curators of things that we always turn to when it’s time to buy.



Image Credit: @gaiaforwomen

GAIA creations -incredible earrings and jewellery, clothes, homewares, bags and make up pouches -  are handmade by refugee women resettled in Dallas using vintage, artisan-made, and sustainable materials. Their mission is to empower refugee women through employment, encouragement, and dedication to their long-term success in our local communities.  


The Future Kept

Image Credit @thefuturekept

The Future Kept is a collection of consciously crafted, responsibly sourced, sustainable and ethical products for your home, and living a more eco-friendly lifestyle. Their primary goal is to inspire more people to think carefully about the items they have in their lives, by putting together a collection of beautifully designed handmade products from honest origins all with a story to tell.



The Simple Things Magazine

Image Credit @simplethingsmag

Subscribe and enjoy this blissful publication whose mission it is to inspire us all to take the time to live well. Needless to say, its pages are a treasure trove of ethical, beautiful brands as well as plenty of ideas for making, plundering, rummaging, savouring and enjoying.


A Circle Back

Image Credit: @acircleback

An online marketplace for ethical, sustainable, eco-friendly brands that promote 'full-circle living': a purchasing ethos which gives back to the planet and to the makers as well as to the buyer. Modern, design-led ethical, sustainable and eco-friendly brands - all in one place!




  • Make (or ask a craft friend to make) cloth drawstring bags in festive fabrics to wrap presents in. These can be kept and reused year after year and will help alleviate the 227,000 MILES of wrapping paper we waste in the UK each Christmas – many of it un-recyclable due to tape, glitter and shine.
  • Wrap presents in stylish and recyclable brown paper. Decorate with ink stamps and wrap with repurposed ribbons and strips of scarves or festive fabrics.
  • Don’t send cards, or if you can’t resist this charming traditional then keep your Christmas cards and recycle them into gift tags for next Christmas.
  • Buy vintage and second-hand where appropriate – a first edition novel for the literary lover, or a piece of Victorian jewellery for the magpie in your life.
  • Go to craft fairs and your local markets to pick up Christmas gifts – there are plenty on every weekend from now if you check your local newspaper. You’ll come home with a genuine feel-good glow that you simply don’t get from a session on Amazon Prime! You can find us at The Botanic Garden's Christmas Fair in Oxford on December 1st and 2nd. 
  • Give experiences rather than things. Theatre tickets, meals, mini-breaks…
  • Shop on Instagram and Etsy. Seek out small and local makers to purchase from. As the saying goes, ‘every time you buy from a small business an actual person does a little happy dance…’

So as we head towards the chaos of Black Friday 2018, we hope you can tune out some of the noise - carve out a little oasis of calm - as you find joy in making thoughtful choices and powerful purchases. 


Image Credit: @gaiaforwomen
November 23, 2018

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