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  • Writer's pictureMair

5 Top Tips to Help You Buy Ethical Christmas Gifts

We all want to enjoy the festive season and do so knowing we have helped protect the planet. But with so many products on the market, where do we start? Here are our top 5 tips to consider when buying a present, so you can make a conscious decision for a better world.

Credit: Viktor Forgacs

Who made it?

Do you know where this product was produced and how? If it is not Fair Trade or from a supplier who openly explains their production process, then you run the risk of buying a present which exploits people’s human rights. From sweat shops, to child labour and slavery, unethical practices are tragically still happening all over the world. So, stop and think – are the people behind this product being treated fairly? All Fair Trade products help our producers to build sustainable livelihoods and earn decent and fair money to empower and develop their communities.

What is it made from?

Think about the material the product is made from and its components. Is it made from a highly manufactured process using non-sustainable materials? Or is it made from wood or plants that have been sustainably grown and re-planted? Perhaps it is handmade by communities using recycled paper? Whatever the material, ensure that it is from a source that is renewable and kind to the planet and people. Don’t forget the packaging too – the actual product may be kind to the environment but it won’t be if it’s wrapped in plastic packaging. Consider a ‘less is more’ approach to wrapping presents, by using a tissue paper and biodegradable raffia over glitter paper with sticky tape.

Where was it made?

You may know the country of origin of the product, but do you know if it was made in a place that is fair on its local communities? Did you know that local people can be forced to move out of their homes with no notice, if foreign investors purchase their land to farm on? Other issues include the destruction of wildlife habitats to produce commercialized crops (such as palm oil). Consider locally sourced, artisan products which are made locally in your area. As well as supporting local business, these products have less air miles too, resulting in a lower carbon footprint.

When will it biodegrade?

Think about the impact of the product – and how easy it is to recycle at the end of its life. No matter the material, make sure that it is as environmentally friendly as possible. Whether that means it can be recycled into something new or that it will easily breakdown in a way that’s kind to the planet. Most plastic toys can’t be recycled and once broken or outgrown have no-where to go but the landfill. Clothing can cause problems too– especially chunky faux knits that are made from polyester. When washed, these can leak plastic microfibres into the water system, having a negative impact on the environment. If possible, stick to natural, ethically sourced materials.

How was it made?

Buying something Fair Trade gives you the peace of mind that the product has been produced with high social, environmental and economic standards in place. What were the conditions like where the product was made? Did the workers work many hours for low pay? Whether you’re buying coffee, chocolate or jewellery as a gift this year, make sure your choice supports the supplier too.


Don’t worry if you can’t remember all of these points when you are out shopping. Just look for the Fair Trade logo or opt for the plastic free alternative!

The Fair Trade Christmas Market 2020 may not have been able to go ahead this year due to the pandemic, but Fair Trade Wales and Hub Africa Cymru are proud of the fair trade products available here in Wales. If you would like to find out more about Fair Trade in Wales visit and


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