Christmas is awesome! Our kids love it and are happy, we socialise more, we get time off work…it’s such a fun time of year!! On the other hand, there’s over-eating, too much drinking and oh dear… ‘did I really spend that much’? For a lot of us guilt is part of Christmas too.

But it can be super easy to make your Christmas meaningful and feel really good without making massive changes or taking out a second mortgage. Shopping wisely and ethically is one of the easiest ways to do this.

Know what you buy

Nothing makes you rethink the world around you like having children – little people watching and learning from you every day. So it’s no wonder that a lot of us are becoming increasingly interested in not just what we buy, but in how it was produced and the impact this has on our planet and the people in it.

No one intentionally buys products made with slave labour or from things that cause grief to nature, however because supply chains are notoriously difficult to understand and track, this happens all the time. How else would slavery be flourishing today? There are more slaves in the world now than any other time in history.

How we choose to spend our money makes a big difference.

The labels and the language

If you want to do the right thing, but you find it confusing and wonder if you can trust an organisation’s claims, you’re not alone. For example, there’s no legal definition of ‘fair trade’ or ‘ethically made’. And newer terms like ‘social enterprise’ are equally nebulous. So how do you cut through and make sure your intentions are achieving the outcomes you seek?

Looking for accredited providers is one way and the World Fair Trade Organisation is a reputable brand to watch out for. There are stringent requirements that must be met for an organisation to achieve this membership. But it’s not for all providers – the time and cost of obtaining certification can render it impossible for some groups.

Alternately, there are organisations that do the research for you and some curate products from a number of sources. Find a vendor that knows their business well. Some are not-for-profits, where donations and grants are part of their make-up. Others might be social enterprises, which are organisations that tackle social problems, improve communities or help the environment. Social enterprises give at least 50% of profits to their cause. And because social enterprises don’t rely on donations or grants, they’re set up for financial stability to create lasting impact.

Find new ways to do a little good

You might already buy ethical products – recycled paper, organic baby food and fair trade coffee are just some examples. Some products combine a number of benefits too. Take for example the work of Ocean Sole. This Kenyan organisation makes animal sculptures from recycled thongs. They pay locals to collect the thongs from the beaches, reducing dangerous and unsightly pollution, then they employ people under fair trade conditions (we’ll explain that in a minute) to recycle them into amazing sculptures. And they also give back 10% of profits to ocean conservation.

Fair trade is a term often associated with coffee or chocolate, but it can equally apply to other products such as toys and teddies. There are 10 key principles of fair trade and they include upholding people’s human rights and respect for the environment. You can read more here:

Little by Little, a little becomes a lot

You really don’t need to change your lifestyle to make a difference. All it takes is a willingness to make a few small changes and believe that the choices you make are important. This Christmas don’t forego the fun or the festivities, just include a few small changes and feel great about doing a little good.

By Penny Stephens, Founder, A Little Good.
Fair trade and ethically made toys and gifts for babies and small children.