Each year at PECT we run a Secret Santa between the staff with the condition that any gift must be ethically sourced, handmade or second hand. Whilst obviously this isn’t a requirement for the rest of the gifts I give it does influence the rest of my Christmas and I think it is a good reminder for the rest of the year too.
From gifts, to food, to wrapping paper, and all the other elements of my Christmas time this PECT tradition makes me question how I do things. Last year I gave a lot of family and friends homemade cakes, biscuits, or other sweet treats as their present or part of it. Not only was this a great way for me to save money, at what is always an expensive time of year, but I think it shows more care and attention than simply giving someone a box of chocolates or a bottle of wine.
This year, although I gave fewer homemade gifts, I did reuse a lot of old gift bags from previous years and attempt to be ethical in my gift giving where possible with Fair Trade items.
Outside of gifts (and the birth of Jesus!), one of the biggest things people associate with Christmas is the big roast dinner (or dinners) which many of us make our way through over the festive period. This is an opportunity for us to think about the sustainability of the choices we make.
Many people will be eating turkey, sausages, and bacon, probably in greater amounts than normal. Whilst switching to a nut roast and some extra Brussels might be the most sustainable option it isn’t realistic to expect everyone to do that. However, at Christmas and throughout the rest of the year we can be conscious about where the meat we buy comes from.
Free range chickens and turkeys, pork and beef from high welfare farms (look for the RSPCA assured logo) and seafood from sustainable fisheries (look for the MSC logo) are all ways in which we can shop more ethically. With all the varieties of accompanying vegetables we can shop seasonally, locally and organically. This helps to keep your carbon footprint down, and reduce the demand for less sustainably grown fruit and vegetables, whilst often providing a higher quality of produce.
How and where we shop has a big effect on how sustainable we are as individuals and households, and although Christmas is a time when we do more food and other shopping than normal and excess is in our minds, good habits are needed for the whole year, so why not try and make a change for 2016 and be more ethical with how you shop?
This blog was written by Andrew Ellis, Fundraising Officer at Peterborough Environment City Trust.