2017 – the year Christmas grew a conscience

Written by Lisa Stanley Mann on 11th Dec 2017

While we’re all desperately finding ways NOT to recourse to the brown boxes with the blue ‘smile’, a new report predicts this Christmas will be the most ethical Christmas ever.

The Ethical Consumer Markets report reveals a sustained growth over the last year in ethical consumer products such as clothing and food and drink. The report also reveals the UK ethical market to be worth £81.3 billion across 27 business sectors. The overall ethical market grew by 3.2 per cent in a year, when growth generally was just below 1 per cent.

Sales of ethical clothing increased by 22.4 per cent in a year, and the sector is now worth £36 million.

Shopping for artisan and local food, for environmental reasons, was up by 16 per cent in the last year. Overall, sales of ethical food and drink grew by 9.7 per cent over the last year; sales of sustainable fish increased by a massive 36.9 per cent, and the number of people saying they’re a vegetarian increased by one third (30 per cent).

So what’s happening? Provenance.

Rob Harrison, co-editor at Ethical Consumer, said: “The growth in local shopping is a particularly significant trend in a world where it can feel like everything is going online. It appears that demand for locally produced artisan food, from bread to craft beer, is driving a revival of local shopping. Shoppers increasingly want to know where their food comes from, and that it’s come from somewhere as local as possible to reduce its carbon footprint.”

At Christmas time, the general trend away from meat consumption could be, as they say, good news for turkeys.

Bevis Watts, UK managing director at Triodos Bank, who sponsored the report, added: “It is encouraging to see that more and more people are consciously choosing ethical and local options at Christmas and rejecting mindless consumerism. The Ethical Consumer Markets Report is incredibly important in helping understand and promote the shift that is happening towards ethical purchasing and behaviours. Where we spend, save and invest has a huge impact on our environment and the world around us.

Sadly, at just 1.3 per growth, the report reveals ethical banking still lags far behind other ethical consumer product sectors. Hopefully this year’s current account launch from Triodos Bank and a renewed focus from ethical stalwart, the Co-operative Bank, should mean these figures will soon begin to increase in line with other market sectors.

Here’s four ways you can have yourself an ethical Christmas:

  1. Food. If the olds simply cannot bear Christmas Day without a bird, ensure as far as possible you source an organic, locally reared turkey, goose or other meat from a farm or producer you know practises sound animal husbandry. Plus it’s guaranteed to taste a whole lot better too.
  2. Gifts. It’s not too late to source a great number of beautiful, artisan gifts from local Christmas markets and fayres. Etsy Made Local is a great place to start. That way you can be sure you’re lining the pockets of an artisan who will really benefit, rather than another giant mass-market toy producer for example. Also check out sites like www.notonthehighstreet.com or www.trouva.com
  3. Skincare. More soap for granny? If you’re not sure where to start and don’t fancy getting her another mass-produced beauty gift set, take a look at sites like www.liv.co.uk who only sell organic, natural skincare. And they’ve got 15 per cent off!
  4. Booze. Have you ever tried organic wine? It’s amazing – no hangovers! Most of the main supermarkets now offer a growing range of organic and biodynamic wine, but why not explore producers closer to home – craft beers, craft gin and British sparkling wine are sure to go down well with all your guests.

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