At a glance

  • There’s a growing appetite for keeping Christmas sustainable and ethical, reflecting a marked rise in responsible saving and investing
  • Shopping locally, using ethical retailers and buying zero-carbon gifts can all help you be an ethical consumer during the festive season
  • From where you buy your tree to what you eat for Christmas dinner, you can make a difference in a number of different ways

At a glance

  • There’s a growing appetite for keeping Christmas sustainable and ethical, reflecting a marked rise in responsible saving and investing
  • Shopping locally, using ethical retailers and buying zero-carbon gifts can all help you be an ethical consumer during the festive season
  • From where you buy your tree to what you eat for Christmas dinner, you can make a difference in a number of different ways

At a glance

  • There’s a growing appetite for keeping Christmas sustainable and ethical, reflecting a marked rise in responsible saving and investing
  • Shopping locally, using ethical retailers and buying zero-carbon gifts can all help you be an ethical consumer during the festive season
  • From where you buy your tree to what you eat for Christmas dinner, you can make a difference in a number of different ways

From health inequalities to the fresh spotlight on the effects of climate change, the past year has brought a raft of pressing issues to the surface.

It’s a theme that will likely be reflected in the way that many of us go about celebrating Christmas this year. Eight in 10 readers told Good Housekeeping magazine that they would donate either the same amount or more to charities this Christmas compared with previous years1 , while a survey by the online retailer musicMagpie found that almost six in 10 UK adults intend to make more sustainable choices over the holiday period2 .

There’s also a growing appetite for saving and investing responsibly, with the Investment Association reporting that the amount of money paid into responsible investment funds jumped sharply in 20203 .

But making sure that the festive season aligns with your values doesn’t stop there. Whether you want to buy sustainable gifts or simply keep your carbon footprint down this Christmas, there are several possible angles to explore.

Here are some ideas:

It’s not what you do, it’s the way that you do it

The Christmas period can leave a hefty carbon footprint – even if you’re making an effort to be responsible. For instance, if you’re wrapping sustainable presents in unrecyclable paper you might be undoing your own good work. Replacing shiny wrapping paper with reusable material or getting creative with boxes and fabric you’ve already got will help keep your carbon footprint down.

Other possible steps include buying your tree from a sustainable source (such as one approved by the Forest Stewardship Council and/or sourced locally), using LED bulbs for your tree decorations and making your own Christmas crackers.

Have a look at this page for some other ideas.

It’s not just what you buy, it’s also who you buy it from

Campaigns encouraging people to buy locally have stepped up in recent weeks, hoping to build an increased awareness of the plight of small businesses during the pandemic.

As it stands we only spend a fifth of every £10 locally, on average, of which just 86 pence remains in the local area, according to Visa. But its research found that the average UK shopper would be willing to spend almost half of every £10 locally4 .

Local stores have been hit hard by the lockdown success of online retailers. Even if you prefer to buy online this Christmas – or government restrictions leave you with no choice – there are local alternatives to the likes of Amazon. Bookshop.org allows you to buy books online from local bookshops, for example, while many independent retailers use services such as Etsy, Love Our Shops UK and Depop to sell online.

It’s not just for Christmas

Pets aren’t the only presents that should last for much longer than the festive season.

Websites such as Ethical Superstore and Sustainably Lazy share ideas of eco-friendly and responsible gifts, including zero-waste beauty products, fairtrade items and sustainable electronics. Similarly, the likes of Ethical Consumer and Good Things Gifts offer a broader look at ethical shopping considerations.

Alternatively, if you’re feeling creative you could make your own gifts and cards (ideally using recyclable material), or make your own ‘promise’ voucher with which to pledge a ‘gift’ such as breakfast in bed, a weekend away, cooking a meal or an afternoon out.

A gift can give back too

Perhaps the most direct way to give back at Christmas is to donate money and/or your time to a good cause (or ask others to do so in lieu of giving you presents). Many local organisations particularly welcome a helping hand during the festive season, such as foodbanks and homeless centres (the homelessness charity Crisis is recruiting for volunteers in certain areas).

Financial donations can make a big difference too. Many of us will have particular causes close to our heart or which we already know well, but if you’re looking for other ideas, the Charities Aid Foundation can help. Alternatively, you can search for charities engaged in issues that are particularly acute during the pandemic, such as mental health, loneliness, domestic abuse and homelessness.

You’ll likely want to be sure that your chosen charity will use your money effectively. If so, check out GiveWell, which has a list of the charities that it has assessed as making the most meaningful difference.

From health inequalities to the fresh spotlight on the effects of climate change, the past year has brought a raft of pressing issues to the surface.

It’s a theme that will likely be reflected in the way that many of us go about celebrating Christmas this year. Eight in 10 readers told Good Housekeeping magazine that they would donate either the same amount or more to charities this Christmas compared with previous years1 , while a survey by the online retailer musicMagpie found that almost six in 10 UK adults intend to make more sustainable choices over the holiday period2 .

There’s also a growing appetite for saving and investing responsibly, with the Investment Association reporting that the amount of money paid into responsible investment funds jumped sharply in 20203 .

But making sure that the festive season aligns with your values doesn’t stop there. Whether you want to buy sustainable gifts or simply keep your carbon footprint down this Christmas, there are several possible angles to explore.

Here are some ideas:

It’s not what you do, it’s the way that you do it

The Christmas period can leave a hefty carbon footprint – even if you’re making an effort to be responsible. For instance, if you’re wrapping sustainable presents in unrecyclable paper you might be undoing your own good work. Replacing shiny wrapping paper with reusable material or getting creative with boxes and fabric you’ve already got will help keep your carbon footprint down.

Other possible steps include buying your tree from a sustainable source (such as one approved by the Forest Stewardship Council and/or sourced locally), using LED bulbs for your tree decorations and making your own Christmas crackers.

Have a look at this page for some other ideas.

It’s not just what you buy, it’s also who you buy it from

Campaigns encouraging people to buy locally have stepped up in recent weeks, hoping to build an increased awareness of the plight of small businesses during the pandemic.

As it stands we only spend a fifth of every £10 locally, on average, of which just 86 pence remains in the local area, according to Visa. But its research found that the average UK shopper would be willing to spend almost half of every £10 locally4 .

Local stores have been hit hard by the lockdown success of online retailers. Even if you prefer to buy online this Christmas – or government restrictions leave you with no choice – there are local alternatives to the likes of Amazon. Bookshop.org allows you to buy books online from local bookshops, for example, while many independent retailers use services such as Etsy, Love Our Shops UK and Depop to sell online.

It’s not just for Christmas

Pets aren’t the only presents that should last for much longer than the festive season.

Websites such as Ethical Superstore and Sustainably Lazy share ideas of eco-friendly and responsible gifts, including zero-waste beauty products, fairtrade items and sustainable electronics. Similarly, the likes of Ethical Consumer and Good Things Gifts offer a broader look at ethical shopping considerations.

Alternatively, if you’re feeling creative you could make your own gifts and cards (ideally using recyclable material), or make your own ‘promise’ voucher with which to pledge a ‘gift’ such as breakfast in bed, a weekend away, cooking a meal or an afternoon out.

A gift can give back too

Perhaps the most direct way to give back at Christmas is to donate money and/or your time to a good cause (or ask others to do so in lieu of giving you presents). Many local organisations particularly welcome a helping hand during the festive season, such as foodbanks and homeless centres (the homelessness charity Crisis is recruiting for volunteers in certain areas).

Financial donations can make a big difference too. Many of us will have particular causes close to our heart or which we already know well, but if you’re looking for other ideas, the Charities Aid Foundation can help. Alternatively, you can search for charities engaged in issues that are particularly acute during the pandemic, such as mental health, loneliness, domestic abuse and homelessness.

You’ll likely want to be sure that your chosen charity will use your money effectively. If so, check out GiveWell, which has a list of the charities that it has assessed as making the most meaningful difference.

From health inequalities to the fresh spotlight on the effects of climate change, the past year has brought a raft of pressing issues to the surface.

It’s a theme that will likely be reflected in the way that many of us go about celebrating Christmas this year. Eight in 10 readers told Good Housekeeping magazine that they would donate either the same amount or more to charities this Christmas compared with previous years1 , while a survey by the online retailer musicMagpie found that almost six in 10 UK adults intend to make more sustainable choices over the holiday period2 .

There’s also a growing appetite for saving and investing responsibly, with the Investment Association reporting that the amount of money paid into responsible investment funds jumped sharply in 20203 .

But making sure that the festive season aligns with your values doesn’t stop there. Whether you want to buy sustainable gifts or simply keep your carbon footprint down this Christmas, there are several possible angles to explore.

Here are some ideas:

It’s not what you do, it’s the way that you do it

The Christmas period can leave a hefty carbon footprint – even if you’re making an effort to be responsible. For instance, if you’re wrapping sustainable presents in unrecyclable paper you might be undoing your own good work. Replacing shiny wrapping paper with reusable material or getting creative with boxes and fabric you’ve already got will help keep your carbon footprint down.

Other possible steps include buying your tree from a sustainable source (such as one approved by the Forest Stewardship Council and/or sourced locally), using LED bulbs for your tree decorations and making your own Christmas crackers.

Have a look at this page for some other ideas.

It’s not just what you buy, it’s also who you buy it from

Campaigns encouraging people to buy locally have stepped up in recent weeks, hoping to build an increased awareness of the plight of small businesses during the pandemic.

As it stands we only spend a fifth of every £10 locally, on average, of which just 86 pence remains in the local area, according to Visa. But its research found that the average UK shopper would be willing to spend almost half of every £10 locally4 .

Local stores have been hit hard by the lockdown success of online retailers. Even if you prefer to buy online this Christmas – or government restrictions leave you with no choice – there are local alternatives to the likes of Amazon. Bookshop.org allows you to buy books online from local bookshops, for example, while many independent retailers use services such as Etsy, Love Our Shops UK and Depop to sell online.

It’s not just for Christmas

Pets aren’t the only presents that should last for much longer than the festive season.

Websites such as Ethical Superstore and Sustainably Lazy share ideas of eco-friendly and responsible gifts, including zero-waste beauty products, fairtrade items and sustainable electronics. Similarly, the likes of Ethical Consumer and Good Things Gifts offer a broader look at ethical shopping considerations.

Alternatively, if you’re feeling creative you could make your own gifts and cards (ideally using recyclable material), or make your own ‘promise’ voucher with which to pledge a ‘gift’ such as breakfast in bed, a weekend away, cooking a meal or an afternoon out.

A gift can give back too

Perhaps the most direct way to give back at Christmas is to donate money and/or your time to a good cause (or ask others to do so in lieu of giving you presents). Many local organisations particularly welcome a helping hand during the festive season, such as foodbanks and homeless centres (the homelessness charity Crisis is recruiting for volunteers in certain areas).

Financial donations can make a big difference too. Many of us will have particular causes close to our heart or which we already know well, but if you’re looking for other ideas, the Charities Aid Foundation can help. Alternatively, you can search for charities engaged in issues that are particularly acute during the pandemic, such as mental health, loneliness, domestic abuse and homelessness.

You’ll likely want to be sure that your chosen charity will use your money effectively. If so, check out GiveWell, which has a list of the charities that it has assessed as making the most meaningful difference.

References

1. goodhousekeeping.com, The Good Housekeeping 2020 Christmas Survey results are in, October 2020 
2. musicMagpie.co.uk, Sustainable Christmas, 2020 
3. Investment Association, Record £7.1bn flows into responsible investment funds in 2020 so far, November 2020; 2,000 adults surveyed
4. Visa, ‘Choose to shop local this Christmas’: Visa reveals the positive impact on local economies, November 2020

Links from this website exist for information only and we accept no responsibility or liability for the information contained on any such sites. The existence of a link to another website does not imply or express endorsement of its provider, products or services by us or St. James's Place. Please note that clicking a link will open the external website in a new window or tab.

References

1. goodhousekeeping.com, The Good Housekeeping 2020 Christmas Survey results are in, October 2020 
2. musicMagpie.co.uk, Sustainable Christmas, 2020 
3. Investment Association, Record £7.1bn flows into responsible investment funds in 2020 so far, November 2020; 2,000 adults surveyed
4. Visa, ‘Choose to shop local this Christmas’: Visa reveals the positive impact on local economies, November 2020

Links from this website exist for information only and we accept no responsibility or liability for the information contained on any such sites. The existence of a link to another website does not imply or express endorsement of its provider, products or services by us or St. James's Place. Please note that clicking a link will open the external website in a new window or tab.

References

1. goodhousekeeping.com, The Good Housekeeping 2020 Christmas Survey results are in, October 2020 
2. musicMagpie.co.uk, Sustainable Christmas, 2020 
3. Investment Association, Record £7.1bn flows into responsible investment funds in 2020 so far, November 2020; 2,000 adults surveyed
4. Visa, ‘Choose to shop local this Christmas’: Visa reveals the positive impact on local economies, November 2020

Links from this website exist for information only and we accept no responsibility or liability for the information contained on any such sites. The existence of a link to another website does not imply or express endorsement of its provider, products or services by us or St. James's Place. Please note that clicking a link will open the external website in a new window or tab.

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