Conscious Christmas: The Do-Good Shopping Guide
Dashing through the mall… with a last-minute list to slay… Yep, Christmas is almost here, and you’re scrambling to fill the naughty and nice list, right? This time of year sparks a frenzy of sales, an estimated 650kg of carbon dioxide per person and of course the accompanying burgeoning landfill (with some estimates saying we generate up to 50% more waste during the silly season). According to The Conversation, a consumer survey showed around 12% of people expect to spend more this Christmas than in previous years, with the total amount estimated to come in at approximately $17.3 billion. Imagine if even a fraction of that went towards mindful and ethical brands?! If nothing else, this year has shown us how connected we are – to each other and our over-stressed planet – so we’ve rounded up a big ol’ list of our favourite ways to give this Christmas, while still doing good.
SHOP LOCAL, ETHICAL, SUSTAINABLE, HANDMADE
Take a trip to a local market to find local makers, growers and producers (an artisan food basket makes a great gift for the hard-to-buy-for) or shop locally to support retail stores that have had a tough time this year. Etsy is always a great destination for hunting out handmade gifts and The Finders Keepers have a new online marketplace full of locally produced goodies from their extensive community of designers, makers and entrepreneurs (who, thanks to COVID-19, were not able to be part of the usual in-person markets). Biome has a huge array of eco gifts, Okay have a curated list of mindful products, Conscious Kin is the place for all things natural beauty and both POP Canberra and Melbourne’s In.cube8r (both also online) have lots of local makers.
Avoid buying well-meaning gifts that will forever languish in a drawer (or worse, be destined for the bin) and give an experience instead. Nothing says ‘I love you’ more than enforced time out from the current crazy-town that is life. Try a relaxing massage or facial voucher (Endota Spa or Waterlily have salons Australian-wide), a meal voucher for a local cafe or restaurant, a travel voucher (for when it’s safe to travel again) or tickets to a local theatre show, gig, art gallery or event (all double whammies as you’ll be helping to support these struggling industries). If finances are tight, then think about creating a handmade voucher to cook a meal, clean their house, help with babysitting or renovations or make a coupon for a foot or shoulder massage (we recommend keeping this one in-house!).
ABOVE: THE PEPPERMINT BUSH BUDDIES (PHOTO FROM KATIE MAKES A DRESS)
If you’re handy with a needle, paint brush or glue gun (and have spare time on your hands), get to work creating gifts made from the heart. Geneva Vanderzeil from Collective Gen has plenty of lovely ideas, as does My Poppet Makes. We also happen to have plenty of sewing patterns on our website, and we’re sure any mini humans in your life would love our new furry friends, the Bush Buddies – the pattern is in the latest issue. For the time-poor but heart-rich, food DIYs are an easy go-to; whip up some spiced nuts, bliss balls or chocolate sauce and place in a jar with a ribbon, or layer the dry ingredients for a batch of cookies.
If last minute trudging around a shopping mall is in your future, then seek out mindful options: Lush is always a top option for indulgent self-care treats (including pre-wrapped gift boxes – winning) as is The Body Shop; head to Tree of Life for homewares, candles, crystals and clothing; for the sports-minded, Patagonia or Kathmandu have your back; or David Jones has a plethora of socially responsible brands.
PRELOVED / SECONDHAND
In case you’re wondering, yes – it’s absolutely fine to give a pre-loved gift. Commit to buying at least one gift secondhand by signing up to the #onesecond pledge through The World’s Biggest Garage Sale. According to TWBGS, every year Australians spend $18 billion on Christmas presents, and it’s estimated that over 20 million gifts are unwanted or unused by their recipients. Most of these end up in landfill or sit dormant in homes for years. Try local op shops (it’s a win-win as funds usually support charities), vintage stores for retro treasures or have a hunt through Facebook Marketplace, eBay or Gumtree. Unsure where to start? A few starters could be scarves, bags, knick knacks, jewellery, framed art or even textiles or bedding for the crafty sewer or upcycler in your life. It just takes #onesecon
ABOVE AND HEADER IMAGE: DRIED FLOWERS FROM GATHER
PLANTS AND FLOWERS
Give a forever gift (depending how green their thumbs are…) with a potted plant or bouquet of locally grown flowers. For the gardening-impaired, try a plant that can live in water (like pothos or philodendron) – just place a cutting in a glass jar or vase for a simple, easy maintenance gift. Otherwise dried flowers are a lovely, long-lasting, low-maintenance option – try and find local, native arrangements at markets or florists, or you can buy stunning posies online (with Australian delivery) from Gather, Mimosa Flowers, Sydney Dried Flowers or Seema With Love.
Give the gift of enlightenment, entertainment and education with a good book. Ideas could include reads on environmental activism, cookbooks, women’s empowerment or books from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers. Support local bookstores and local authors; or scour secondhand shops for classics.
ABOVE: ASYLUM SEEKERS RESOURCE CENTRE
ASYLUM SEEKER RESOURCE CENTRE
Responsibly sourced and thoughtfully designed, the products in the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre shop help support the core work of making real and lasting change possible for people seeking asylum, while also raising awareness for the ASRC. Our picks: tees from their collaboration with artist Beci Orpin, stationery emblazoned with the ‘I stand with refugees’ message and tea towels, mugs and reusable water bottles with the ‘Home of Hope’ mural – an artwork that celebrates the diversity of people that the ASRC supports, depicting the birds, plants and produce from members’ countries of origin.
SUPPORT A CHARITY
If buying stuff is not your jam and you’d rather give back to others first, how about gifting a goat, duck or chicken to a family in need from Oxfam or support conservation efforts by adopting an animal (on behalf of your loved one) from WWF, Australia Zoo or Save The Koala.
FIRST NATIONS BRANDS
For gifts that help give back to our First Nations peoples, consider supporting local Indigenous artists. For the art lover, try Rachael Sarra, Lakkari Pitt, Minaku or Miimi + Jiinda. Tjanpi Desert Weavers create stunning baskets, sculptures and beaded jewellery and Charlotte Allingham (Coffin Birth on socials) has prints, stationery and apparel that focus on community love, body positivity and Blak strength. For jewellery, try Haus Of Dizzy for bold designs or Bimbi Love for laser-cut wood creations, natural and traditional skincare from Bush Medijina or shop for the foodie in your life from Warndu and their gourmet range of products with native Australian ingredients. For more ideas, follow Trading Blak (a collective of Aboriginal business owners) or Blak Business, both extensive resources for First Nations brands.
SUBSCRIBE NOW, PAY LATER
And may we humbly suggest a subscription to Peppermint – the gift that gives for 12 months! We also have a little offer going, due to the fact that it’s been a tough year (#understatement). We came up with a little plan to try and help ease your Christmas budget, so if you subscribe now – for yourself or as a gift – you won’t pay for another 45 days! This means you can buy a few presents while still freeing up your spare cash for things that matter… like gingerbread, jaunts to the beach or, you know, rent.