Confession: I used to positively recoil at the thought of “ethical clothing”. I was sure that the deadly term meant itchy hemp, year-long autumnal hues and baggy linen trousers that were doomed to fray at the seems. Well, I’m glad to report that my fears were unfounded and that because activism is no longer a dirty word and global consciousness is on the up, the world is now FULL of lovely products that will satisfy the serial window/actual shoppers amongst us while also protecting vulnerable people, promoting equality and justice AND nourishing the earth. WHAT A WIN!
As Christmas runs towards us with the speed of an 8 year old running through the school gates at home time, I’ve put together a wee ethical Christmas shopping guide in which I will share my favourite responsible retailers and some of my top picks from each!
First up, Basha Boutique. I got to meet one of the founders of this social enterprise providing employment for women at risk of trafficking/recovering from having been trafficked in Bangladesh this summer and it has stuck with me ever since. Through its collective artisan business, it sells products made by women who are free to thrive. Home textiles, jewellery and Christmas ornaments (how cute is this wreath!?). Something for everyone! Visit the range here.
Secondly, an old favourite of mine that NEVER gets old – The Bearded Candlemakers! You know I love to champion local creators and Mike & Mark are some of Belfast’s best. Scent-builders, wax-builders and story-tellers: visit their brand new website to take in some of the goodness (if only we could smell via the internet!) A great way to ensure what you are buying is ethical is to get to know the people who make it. The guys do their bit to keep the Earth healthy by recycling all of their packaging. They have a Christmas range, an Irish range and lots of other fun scents, all built through their own experiences and loves. Shop here. Also, read my Creator Quarter interview with the guys here!
Next up – any Laguna Beach fans out there?! Well, our beloved LC has put her energy into developing The Little Market, an online shop selling the work of artisans across the world who are kept out of poverty by the scheme. What’s amazing is that these artisans are also empowered through the online market shop to feed into their communities through education, training and health programmes. The website sells a vast array of lovely stuff: homeware, woven baskets, candles, chocolate, linens, hand bags, and lots of other things. Take a look here.
And then we get to chocolate. It’s hard to have Christmas without it. But it’s also notorious for involving child slave labour in its supply chains. Thankfully, a lot of the big brands have, due to public pressure, agreed to change the way they work and have had some of their products certified. So that means that Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, Kit Kat, Maltesers and Galaxy’s Smooth Milk bars are all slavery-free. If you live in Belfast, check out Co Couture, an ethical chocolatier whose brownies are SECOND.TO.NONE! Another great ethical chocolate brand available worldwide is Divine. I recommend the Milk Chocolate with Toffee & Sea Salt bar (which was also the UK’s favourite Fairtrade product in 2014, whaddyaknow!)
When the nights are longer and the temperature is colder (read: pure baltic), there’s nothing like a little pampering session. Light one of your Bearded Candlemakers’ candles, grab a bar of Divine chocolate and reach for the…oh, that’s right, soap! Scent Cosmetics is another local and ethical trader that I love to visit when I get the chance. Their products smell amazing and last for ages. Using organic and fairly traded ingredients, they support social enterprises and donate at least 10% of their profits to humanitarian aid. Visit the website here!
Finally, the oh-so-stunning Beulah London. A luxury fashion brand based in London that has dressed the likes of Kate Middleton and Millie Macintosh, it aims to empower the women who wear its beautiful collections and those who make them through ethical sourcing and business practices. For example, its iconic canvas bags are made by women at risk of having to work in the sex industry in Kolkata. Have a nosy at the range here (warning: you may find that time runs away from you as you do…I mean, just look at this dress!)
That’s me – I’m off to do some Christmas shopping! What did you think of my guide? Which other responsible retailers do you love? Let me know – join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram…or leave me a comment below! Happy shopping y’all!
PS: for any new readers tuning in today, visit the charity I manage, No More Traffik, to find out why being responsible while shopping is important to me!