5 Ethical alternatives to buying your Christmas presents from Amazon

As has been widely reported in the media, Amazon treats its workers badly , avoids paying its fair share of tax, and promotes a consumer culture that is destroying our planet. However, despite this, we consumers continue to buy stuff from Amazon in our millions. In fact, in 2016, Amazon generated close to 136 billion U.S. dollars in net sales in the USA alone.

Coming up to Christmas, we all start to think about getting presents for our friends and family- after all it is a kind thing to do. However, buying your presents from Amazon is anything but. Here are 5 more ethical alternatives that promote a fairer, greener society.

1: Buy second hand

There is no end of things that you can buy second hand, from clothes and books, to furniture and electrical goods. Rather than buying new, buying second hand reuses something that someone else did not want so does not stimulate the demand for more new ‘stuff’ in the same way that buying new does.

Ideally Charity shops are the best place to shop for second hand goods as they have the added advantage that you are giving to charity as well as helping the planet by supporting them. However, if there is a specialist item you have in mind, ebay is a good bet. Last year I got my brothers a particular Pokemon card that way. Whilst here money does not go to charity, it is miles better than amazon in the sense that you are not driving consumption for more goods.

A wide array of gifts can be bought from Charity shops from clothes and books, to cameras and toys

2: Buy local

If there is a new film, music album, or book that you really want to get a friend for Christmas, there are many more ethical ways of buying it than going through Amazon. If you have a local bookshop, it might be worth checking them out. Even they don’t have the book you were looking for, they will usually order it in for you to collect.

If you are lazy can’t be bothered to go to a bookshop but still want to support your local high street, the website Hive donates a proportion of the money you spend with them to a high street bookshop of your choice!

3: Buy ethical quality everyday products

Amnesty have accused Colgate of sourcing Palm Oil in an unsustainable way

Soap, toothpaste and shower gel; these are things that most people use on an everyday basis. However, most of us probably use dodgy branded versions of these products. For example, over half the UK population use toothpaste produced by Colgate-Palmolive, the US company behind Colgate, Sanex and Palmolive, despite the fact they have recently come under heavy criticism from Amnesty International for severe human rights abuses.

When buying an ethically branded everyday product for someone you can nearly guarantee that it would be used (so no wasted consumption) and , for a while at least, an alternative dodgy version of the product would not- a win win situation! Further, whilst the product might only last a short time, if they are convinced by the product you bought (which obviously they would be), they might even feel compelled to switch to the more ethical product full time!

4: Buy an ‘unwrapped’ gift

The concept of ‘unwrapped’ gifts has been around a while now and is promoted by a number of organisations including Oxfam and World Vision. It involves sending someone a card effectively saying that instead of buying you a physical present this year, I have decided to buy something (e.g. a goat)for someone else across the world instead.

In terms of public good, these sort of gifts can be most beneficial as they give money to causes or people who need it most. However, as a word of caution, there are some who do not see such gifts as ‘proper presents’ and for such people you should probably seek alternatives….

How about buying an ‘unwrapped’ goat for Christmas?

5: Buy someone a subscription to radical independent media

This is one of the more expensive options on the list however equally important. Key to tackling climate change and promoting a fairer society is winning over hearts and minds to the causes. A great way to do this is to buy a gift subscription to a radical socialist/environmentalist magazine such as the Red Pepper, the New Internationalist, and the Resurgence and Ecologist. In a world of vested interests in mass media, buying a friend (perhaps one that needs to be swayed) a subscription to one of these magazines is one small way to help bring about a better world and challenge the likes of Amazon!

The Red Pepper Magazine

Wishing you all a very happy Christmas and an ethical New Year!

Jacob xx

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