Thoughtful Shopping

On Thursday night I saw this from Braintree and it made me cry – it just felt so hopeful in a world gone mad with consumerism. Instead of Black Friday, Braintree were promoting Thoughtful Friday, giving 50% of all sales made on that day to charity.

I hate the way Christmas makes us impulse buy and panic buy and the sense of need it gives even the richest of us, so it was refreshing to come across a business brave enough to make a decision that defied all of that.

Over the last year or more, I’ve been learning what it means to do my shopping more thoughtfully, exploring the concepts of slow fashion and slow food, re-working my shopping habits. I wrote about it here and here.

The other day I saw this clip about the Rana Plaza factory collapse and it brought back to me again the reality of just why this stuff is so important. These are people’s lives and livelihoods – what right do we have to shortchange them so tragically, just because we want the latest trend as cheap as possible?

I am so glad there is hope. We now have choices that can make the difference between a child losing their parent or not, between people having an education or not, between men and women being free or enslaved. Watch this clip to see how Fair Trade initiatives can bring that very real, very important hope.

If you’re unsure about how ethical shopping can be worked into your budget and lifestyle, here are some tips for the Christmas season:

  • Check out the People Tree sale for some great party wear and jewellery. I bought this dress for my work Christmas party, and I love it! If you haven’t already, sign up to their emails for an extra 10% off and other offers. If the clothes you like are more expensive than what you would usually buy, have it as an early Christmas present and have less to open on Christmas Day.
  • For accessories for parties and other occasions try to use what you already have. It’s also a good idea to choose new purchases of clothes based on how much you already have that can go with it.
  • Try looking in second hand shops, have clothes swaps with your friends or borrow items from each other for an evening, especially if it’s something you’re not likely to wear much again. This is far more environmentally friendly and means you’re reducing the demand for fast fashion.
  • If you need fancy dress, borrow or customise as much as possible. I customised a jumper to make it more Christmassy by sewing on a bell and some trim.
  • Spend time thinking about and planning the gifts you’re going to give, making them personal and well thought out and giving yourself time to source them responsibly.
  • Supplement the gifts you buy with handmade items: chutney, biscuits, fudge, crafts… Get ideas at Braintree’s BThoughtful blog and look out for a couple recipes from me soon too!
  • Try to buy Fair Trade/ethical gifts where you can – there are loads of options now. You may have a Fair Trade shop near you or have a browse of Fair Trade websites.
  • If you’re taking chocolates or wine to someone’s house, buy Fair Trade. All the major supermarkets now sell Fair Trade options at reasonable prices.
  • Many festive foods like wine, chocolate, fruit and nuts are items that are readily available with the Fair Trade mark. Choose Fair Trade in the supermarket, or order online.
  • Use natural Christmas decorations such as pine branches, holly and pine cones. This is cheaper, prettier and better for the environment.

Finally, here are a few gift recommendations for you…

fair trade christmas

Men’s Skyline Tee, £22.40, People Tree, Stars Pyjamas (available long and short), from £12.60, People Tree, Sam Ubhi Star Ring, £8.40, People Tree

Colour Block Scarf, £25.20, People Tree, Fishbone Stripe Blanket, £49.95, Decorator’s Notebook, Kilda Kintore Bamboo Tights, £18, Braintree, Nthongo Necklace, £35, Braintree

Nanga Roll Neck Sweater, £59.90, Braintree, Indigo Drop Mug, £9.95, Decorator’s Notebook, Cornish Barney Stripe Shirt, £44.90, Braintree


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