It’s that time of year again. Over the next 2 months, we will spend more of our disposable income than at any other time of year, buying gifts for loved ones and treats for the holiday season.
And in recent years, more of us than ever before are looking for ways to “vote with our wallets” and make conscious shopping choices.
But it’s not always easy. When you’re time poor and juggling the daily stresses of life, one-click convenience is much more appealing than hours of research.
That’s why our annual #ShopEthicalInstead campaign makes it easy to support small businesses!
Find ethical and eco alternatives for everything you need this holiday season in our curated gift guides, Virtual High Street and by searching the hashtag.
But what impact does ethical shopping really make?
Do your purchases actually have power?
And why should you #ShopEthicalInstead?
1. Nobody should work for less than a real Living Wage
It seems like common sense that someone in work should be paid enough to cover their everyday needs.
But that’s not always the case.
In the UK, the national living wage set by the government is £1.40 less per hour than the real living wage, calculated on what people actually need to earn to afford the cost of living.
And that’s for over 23s.
For under 23s, the difference is £1.72.
Over a standard 40 hour working week, that adds up to £68.80 less than is needed to afford even the essentials, like the grocery shop, or a trip to the dentist.
We’re all feeling worried about the rising cost of bills, but for many people this winter earning less than living wage, there will be very real pressures around feeding their families, keeping their homes safe and warm and staying healthy.
In the sixth largest national economy in the world, nobody should be going hungry.
Nobody in work should be earning less than they need to survive.
But employers are also feeling the financial squeeze.
With electricity bills and raw material costs soaring, their wage bill is a significant cost and one area they often look to make savings.
With the legal minimum wage set below liveable levels, there is no obligation for employers to pay more. Even many multinational corporations that report enormous profits each year rely on cheap labour, either in the UK or their supply chains overseas.
Small ethical businesses prioritise people over profit.
Look for accreditations from bodies like Living Wage Foundation and Fairtrade for reassurance that the people behind your purchases have been paid fairly.
And remember that while not all small businesses will have the accreditations (there are costs involved in applying for them), they may still have a transparent and fair supply chain behind them. Their website will tell you more, and the benefit of shopping small is you can reach out to the business owner and ask them!
Where you shop matters. Every purchase made from a small, ethical business ensures that the people involved in that business and their supply chain are paid a living wage for their work. It’s a powerful way to vote with your wallet and stand against poverty, rather than contributing to skyrocketing profits while exploited workers pay the price.
2. Give gifts with meaning to show you care
Gift giving is a way of showing people how much they mean to you.
A quick convenience purchase can easily be made without any thought.
But something handcrafted, with a beautiful story behind it, and maybe even a give back element supporting a charity or cause the recipient is likely to care about?
That shows that you have taken your time. Not just in choosing a gift, but in your relationship with the person you’re giving it to.
It shows you listen to them. That you care about the things they care about. That you share and support their values.
What could feel better than someone giving you a beautiful item that you really love, and saying “I saw this and thought of you?”
This year, instead of going for cheap, convenient quantity – opt for quality. Give gifts with meaning; gifts that truly reflect what your friends and family mean to you.
3. Support our shopkeepers
Last year, there were 5.5 million small businesses in the UK, making up 99.2% of the total businesses in the country.
We are proudly a ‘nation of shopkeepers’, and while not all our high streets are the vibrant, independent spaces they used to be, the innovation, creativity, care and craftsmanship of small businesses has shifted their shopfront online.
At this time of year in particular, brands are vying for our attention.
Advertising space, including online ads, becomes more expensive, and it’s even harder than usual to cut through the noise of “bargain deals” and Christmas shopping competition.
But for small businesses, this time of year is crucial to their survival. Many small retail businesses will make up to 80% of their revenue in the final few months of the year.
How much they sell over the Christmas period will determine whether their business survives into 2023.
Every purchase you make from a small business really does make a difference!
4. De-stress with less clutter at Christmas
Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy.
A time to relax and unwind, celebrate with family and friends, and reflect on the ups and downs of the year as it comes to an end.
But nothing gets in the way of that process more than clutter and stress.
Research has shown that clutter can affect our anxiety levels, quality of sleep and ability to focus.
Adding more stuff into the mix each winter, at a time when our moods are vulnerable to the darker nights, colder days and changing seasons anyway, can’t be good.
William Morris famously said “have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
When you #ShopEthicalInstead, you can live by that principle and fill your home with joy!
Browse our curated gift guides to find the perfect food, decorations and gifts to make your holiday season more ethical, sustainable and positive all round!
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#ShopEthicalInstead is a positive alternative to Black Friday - encouraging people to support small, ethical and sustainable businesses and vote with their wallets for a better world! Organised by #EthicalHour, now in its 5th year.