5 ways to practise responsible consumerism and add value to your gifts this Christmas

At Christmas, commitments, presents, and other expenses pile up which all lead us shop compulsively. However, we can do better. Here are some guidelines to help enjoy the festive season while exercising responsible consumerism.


18 December 2019 |

The Christmas season is a wonderful occasion to have fun and celebrate with family and friends. But undoubtedly these festivities bring with them a commercial maelstrom that begins with the Black Friday and ends with Epiphany. The different commitments lead us to shop more and, most likely, less wisely.


So, for a few years now Christmas also forces us to reflect on our consumers habits. From institutions promoting concrete actions, like the government's information campaign that, under the slogan 'Think, then shop', aims to promote ethical consumerism while reminding shoppers of their rights and responsibilities.


Another good example of this reflexive trend is the first Responsible Consumption, Social and Solidarity Economy Fair, organised by Barcelona City Council that will take place between 19th December and 4th January in the Plaza de Catalunya. The objective of this exhibition is to make known the existence of products, services and business activities and entities that promote responsible and local consumerism, making possible a truly social and solidarity economy. And, in this vein, this year Barcelona is also welcoming the Renew your toys campaign, that promotes a toy exchange to extend the life of our children’s toys and at the same time reduce waste.


On a private level, some businesses committed to a more ethical consumption are also offering proposals that can give us ideas. Along this line, the foundation Ship2B, has prepared a catalogue of possible gifts that offers a little guidance in giving presents with an added value.

From our philosophy as an ethical business, we promote individual behaviour that helps society to adopt new means of responsible consumerism, beginning with identifying the things that we can avoid or do better. Let's consider some common mistakes and how to avoid them:

1. Avoid 'buying for buyings sake'

This is the typical season for big meals and it’s often that there are leftovers and sadly they end up in the rubbish bin. The same applies to gifts: sometimes we value quantity over quality, when it’s clear that buying things that aren’t necessary further consolidates a model of inequality.

In order to avoid compulsive buys, we should think calmly about what we really need: making a list, anticipating buying these products and not falling for special offers, are a few tips that can help.  


2. Think about the presents origin

When we have to buy a gift, seldom do we consider sustainability as a criteria. As a result, we make purchases with no regard to the working conditions of the manufacturer. 

As an alternative, we can prioritise our gifts taking into consideration where, and how they are produced. A safe bet is to buy fair trade, this guarantees that its products do not exploit workers, the environment, or child labour.

3. Watch out: The further away, the larger environmental footprint

Buying online is become more and more common. In fact, according to the consultant Deloitte, in Spain 25% of the total destined for Christmas shopping this year we be spent online, which is a 10% increase on that of last year.

If we want to make responsible purchases, as well as thinking about who produces what we are buying, we should also consider the journey each product makes in order to reach us. Many products are accompanied by a large “carbon footprint”, their delivery leaves an environmental cost that doesn’t show up on the bill yet harms the planet.

4. Less bags and packaging

These coming days we will visit more shops, where we will be given heaps of bags. In a previous article we talked about Zero Waste and Christmas, is a good opportunity to practise it. A few simple gestures like declining a bag, using the same bag for products from different shops, or bringing with you our reusable shopping bag, help to limit the large amount of waste being generated.


5. Immaterial gifts… Why not?

We buy lots of things, but sometimes, there are immaterial gifts that can offer unforgettable experiences. We should revise our values and consider that perhaps giving our time and sharing experiences, could be the best gift. There are many options, like a cultural activity, a theatre show, going to the countryside or a workshop, for example.

This Christmas, according to Deloitte’s study, for the first time Spain has overtaken the UK in the planned spending for celebrations, now topping the rankings of the European countries surveyed.  “This year we will spend on average 633 euros on Christmas shopping, which is an increase of 3.3% on the actual costs incurred in 2016” say the consultants.

At Withfor, we invite you to take a few minutes to think about each purchase, because we can find that responsible consumerism is actually much more gratifying.  As we have seen, a range of alternatives do exist, we just have to take the into account and highlight the importance of their high social and environmental returns, the result of much more responsible consumerism.

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