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Ethical gift giving

By Karen Bowley, Wodonga Albury Towards Climate Health (WATCH) and Wooragee Landcare

It’s Christmas and we are expected to buy presents for our nearest and dearest or be considered a Grinch.  It’s so easy to be caught up in the materialism, glitz and glamour of all that is Christmas in our consumer society.  We are encouraged to think of what we want, not necessarily, what we need.

So perhaps you could think about buying ethical Christmas presents this year.

An ethical present could be cruelty free make-up, biodynamic wine or some fairtrade goodies, like chocolate or coffee. Fairtrade encourages sustainable production, improved working conditions, stable prices and investment in local communities in the developing world.  And don’t forget locally sourced gifts like tickets to a local concert or drama production, yoga classes, bread or cheesemaking classes, or gift vouchers from local shops or restaurants.  And for children, you can choose a second hand book or a fairtrade toy. And if you have a green thumb, pot up a small succulent or cutting from your garden in an interesting second hand pot, maybe purchased from an op shop, or give a packet of seeds, for a gift that keeps on giving.  Or consider pooling resources to assist the purchase of solar panels.

There are various ideas for ethical presents on the website Good on You which chooses gifts to advertise according to their impact on the environment, people, animals and whether they are safe for you and your family.  There is also Otter which sends out a fortnightly eNews that tries to make it easier for you to make consumer choices that match your values.

Other ideas are programs like Oxfam’s Unwrapped where you can give the gift of a goat or water pump to a village in a third world country.  Or you could make a donation to an organisation like the World Wildlife Fund which protects nature throughout the world.  These ethical gifts are perfect for those who already have everything.

Such gifts mean that you not only show that you care for your loved one, but also that you care for the world around you.  The giving of an ethical gift can make a difference to our planet and its inhabitants and can empower both you and the gift recipient to do something positive for your environment.  It is the perfect example of thinking globally, acting locally.

And to really test your environmental credentials you can sign up to the No Waste Festive Season at http://www.1millionwomen.com.au/2014/11/04/no-waste-festive-season