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10 Top Tips for an Ethical Christmas 15.11.07

Get Ethical and EcoMiundi’s Phil Soulsby gives his top ten tips for an ethical Christmas that supports local, fairtrade, organic, and small ethical companies as well limiting your carbon footprint and maximizing your family and your friends enjoyment

There is no doubting that people are a lot more ethically aware about their shopping – but what does ethical shopping mean?. All of our purchases will have impact on people and the planet - by using a little care and thought we can try to make sure this is a positive impact. And it is a great thought that at Christmas the gifts you buy may benefit not just the recipient, but the producer and the planet.

Key issues include:-

- Fair Trade Production, worker empowerment and the protection of children

- Ecologically sound manufacture – use of resources, pollution and transport impact

- Use/consumption of product to be energy efficient

We want to be sure that our purchases are not the result of irresponsible exploitation of people or natural resources, that no pollution results from its manufacture. Here are some things to take into account in your decisions on ethical purchases

1. Local shops We recommend local, independent stores as places to shop. They discourage car use, offer a more personal service and support the local community. If you don’t use them, you’ll lose them. If you can’t find what you want locally, then check out the excellent ethical shopping websites www.getethical.com, www.ethicalsuperstore.com www.earthandwear.com and www.ecomundi.co.uk

2. Fair trade To buy ethically look out for Fairtrade Foundation marked products or increasingly Fair Trade shops which guarantee workers have been fairly rewarded for their labour. Fair trade food and gift products are a far cry from the early days where product quality and consistency were unpredictable.

3.

Products not tested on animals

It is a sign of human arrogance that we test our cosmetics on animals – look out for products not tested on animals.

4. Battery Free Products No we don’t mean free range eggs – but yes, you should be using them! Wind up and solar powered products canbe used whenever and whereever needed.

5. Organic & Free Range Produce The availability of organic food has increased dramatically over the last few years. Organic food is free of chemical fertilisers and pesticides, which benefits the workforce, the consumer and the environment. There is no reason why the entire Christmas lunch (including wine!!) can’t be organic/free range. Look out for the Soil Association symbol.

6. Non-genetically altered food GM food is one of the most mistrusted areas of science and the ethics of genetic modification remain to be proven. Look out for GM-free labels.

7. Recycling If recycling is to work, we have to buy recycled products. Recycled items save precious resources and reduce pressure on landfill sites. Common items available are glass and paper products, although increasingly plastics are being recycled into stationery items.

8. Forest Stewardship Council logo Many timber products reach the UK having originated from unsustainably managed forests, frequently virgin rainforest. The Forest Stewardship Council operates an independent verification of sustainable timber and paper products. Look out for the FSC logo.

9. Biodegradables If you have to buy disposable products, look for biodegrables that decompose completely in as short a time as possible – www.ecomundi.co.uk supply a wide range of good quality items.

10. Re-usable shopping bags Please take your own bags and don’t add to the billions of supermarket plastic bags that end up littering our streets, or in the sea where they severely harm marine life.

With a growing number of ethical shops and a wealth of ethical shopping sites on the web, it is neither time consuming nor difficult to shop without it costing the earth. I can’t say it will always be cheap, but it doesn’t always have to be more expensive either. The growth of portal sites such as www.getethical.com have allowed market access to those smaller companies whose products are not easily found in mainstream shops. This helps keep the bigger players honest in their pricing!

This article first appeared on the Get Ethical Blog and is reproduced with the permission of Phil Soulsby

Peter Shield

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