CHRISTMAS SHOPPING: An Ethical Guide to a Happy Christmas

By Fleur Howe – Environmental Editor

It’s that time again; the year comes to a close and everything around us is covered in bright adverts telling us its time to get shopping for presents. With the recent Spend Local campaign drawing to an end, I hope we have all familiarised ourselves with some of the products local businesses have to offer, and are making a conscious effort this year to shop more ethically and sustainably. The Christmas season may be full of joy and wonder, but it is also rampant with over consumption and inevitable waste. To help you with Christmas shopping this year, I’ve comprised a list of 5 ethical and eco-conscious small local companies to give you some ethical gift inspiration.

Outside In

Outside In has become pretty reputable in Northern Ireland for its ‘Wear One, Share One’ campaign; for every sale of one of their clothing items, another is donated to a person experiencing homelessness. Founded in 2016, the brand has expanded to work with 20+ charities and donate 98,500 products, in 36 countries and 200 cities. The companies focus is on spreading hope and bringing those ‘on the outside of society in’. This year you can find them in the Belfast Christmas market selling a range of bobble hats, hoodies, jumpers, and socks. You can also find their products online.

Born and Bred

Born and Bred is a Belfast based company whose initiative is to create a space for local artists to flourish, and celebrate Northern Irish culture. They sell a wide range of products from mugs, to socks and totes; working with local companies including, Cowfield Design, Field Day, Mourne Pebble Design, to encourage their customers to shop locally. As part of their ten-part ethos, they work hard to encourage ethical consumption and focus on making sure artists are treated fairly whilst remaining accessible. On their website, you can find a list of gifts for under £5, £10 or £20 to appeal to all budgets. To top it off, they are eco-consciously ensuring that their manufacturers are working as sustainably as possible.

Located at 60-62 Ann St, Belfast BT1 4EG, you can also find them online!

Wave the Animals

Another ethical Northern Irish clothing brand with the mission to raise awareness of the polluted ocean and the dying marine life, their aim (as you can read on their website) is to ‘think about the future we’re creating for generations to come, leaving a legacy of respect for our seas.’. The brand functions as a symbol of sustainability with the hope to encourage eco-consciousness. Their merchandise, including hoodies and tote bags, is made out of recycled polyester and organic cotton, designed to be recyclable. It’s also package in zero-waste packaging to ensure they are not adding to the problem.

Find them at this year’s Belfast Christmas Market as well as online!

The Dribbly Yak

This small business’s passion is wooden art, decorations, and furniture. Run by husband-and-wife team Anthony and Jenny, who work from home in Belfast, their craft is the perfect small gift for family and friends. Their smaller pieces can be found in local artisan shops, whilst larger pieces can be bought online, as well as custom ordered. They are devoted to creating a low waste business environment, sourcing their wood locally, and using any small offcuts to heat their house, nothing is wasted. On top of that their business and greeting cards are all made of recycled paper and the finishing on their products is naturals oils that are less pollutant. Their line of ‘Trees on the Land’ products are also raising money to fund the planting of trees in Ireland. It’s safe to say this company has gone to a great effort to be eco-conscious, whilst creating long lasting, beautiful pieces of art.

Find them also at the Christmas market this year, as well as in selected stores and online!

Trek NI

Trek NI is an eco-conscious clothing brand that is family-run in County Down. Their goal is to offer sustainable, ethical clothing, and as a company limit their negative impact on the planet as much as possible. They do this by sourcing organic and recycled clothing from ethical suppliers, as well as guaranteeing that their packaging is made from 100% biodegradable material. They sell a range of T-Shirts, hoodies and mugs as well as working with artist Sasha Derguson and Mourne Way Apparel Co. both available to view on their website. They have an impressive list of charity partners ranging from Cancer Focus NI to the Mourne Heritage Trust. More information on the list of charities they work with is available on their website as well as on their blog.

You can find them online!

Published by The Gown Queen's University Belfast

The Gown has provided respected, quality and independent student journalism from Queen's University, Belfast since its 1955 foundation, by Dr. Richard Herman. Having had an illustrious line of journalists and writers for almost 70 years, that proud history is extremely important to us. The Gown is consistent in its quest to seek and develop the talents of aspiring student writers.

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