10 Ways to Shop Greener this Christmas
Since the pandemic, it’s safe to say many of us have become more conscious of our shopping habits and how these may impact the environment. With Christmas celebrations and gift-giving just weeks away, celebrated environmental activist, Satish Kumar and family share their ideas and inspiration on how you can play a greener part this Christmas.
Recently proclaimed the UK’s Greenest Family 2021 at the P.E.A (People. Environment. Achievement) Awards – the UK’s longest standing sustainability awards body – Satish Kumar and his wife June Mitchell live and breathe a green life which has been passed on to their children, Mukti and Maya Kumar Mitchell, who are now low-carbon lifestyle pioneers.
The Kumar Mitchell family share these top ten tips to encourage us all to shop greener this festive season:
1. Love long-lasting: Do you have hand-me-down items from your grandparent’s kitchen? Buying high quality, long lasting products is one of the best ways to save CO2, and sometimes they last for generations.
2. Think end-of-life: Is the product we are buying easy to repair or recycle? Will it compost into the earth at the end of its life? Natural materials give you a yes.
3. Choose pollution-free: Try to get a chemical-free version of the things you need – buy natural and organic.
4. Avoid packaging: Avoid plastics and other packaging as much as possible, and reduce the excess rubbish created.
5. Make low impact shopping trips: When you can, go shopping with other members of your family and reduce the number of cars on the road. Better still, take the bus or train when it’s a convenient journey. You can save a lot on parking.
6. Minimise manufacturing: Make, mend, buy handmade or buy second-hand. Britain has wonderful second-hand markets – you can often buy a much higher quality product for a low price when you buy it second-hand.
7. Shop local: Buying things made as close to home as possible cuts product miles. It also supports the local economy, giving jobs to our neighbours.
8. Buy less at higher quality: A great way to save CO2 is to buy few, but high quality, long-lasting presents. With only a couple of present to make or buy you can spend more time and money on them.
9. Buy energy-saving presents: A prime example is an electric blanket to cosy up on the sofa in – at 1p an hour to run, they are typically 50 times cheaper than an electric room heater and 200 times cheaper than central heating.
10. Give experiences, make memories: Taking someone out for a meal, visiting a special place, getting tickets to the theatre, or a class in surfing or art, can be really memorable and avoids manufacturing and packaging.
A former Jain monk, Satish, now 84, famously walked around the world for peace in 1962-1963. He has authored 10 books, presented various documentaries including BBC TV’s Earth Pilgrim, and been the guiding spirit behind a number of internationally respected ecological and educational ventures, including Devon’s Schumacher College.
Satish’s wife June, a keen gardener and environmentalist, was co-editor of Resurgence for 30 years. An acclaimed low-carbon living pioneer and creator of a globally acclaimed carbon footprint calculator, Mukti built and sailed a zero carbon micro yacht around Britain in 2007, giving talks on how to reduce your carbon footprint. He is co-founder of Mitchell & Dickinson, an insulation company helping owners of period and listed properties to save carbon. Formerly a professional tango dancer turned teacher, Maya has edited a number of environmental books and is a dedicated eco parent. Her daughter, 11-year-old Samay Ball, refuses to fly and attends quarterly meetings with her local council to help keep their carbon reductions on track.
Mukti Mitchell says: “I believe one reason why our family won the P.E.A. Greenest Family Award is because we’ve always looked for ways to make saving CO2 fun and enjoyable, and that is exactly what Shop4good is all about. After 25 years of researching low carbon living, I can vouch that most of the things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint actually save you money and make you happier and healthier. Here are some of the things we most enjoy about living a low carbon lifestyle through the way we give gifts at Christmas – I hope they will inspire you to Shop4good in the lead up to Christmas!”
Satish Kumar, author of Soil, Soul, Society and the driving force behind green magazine, Resurgence (now Resurgence & Ecologist), for nearly 50 years, says: ‘While governments have set targets at COP26, it’s up to all of us – businesses, organisations, individuals and families – to play our part by reducing our own carbon footprints. Shopping is a significant part of our carbon footprints so shopping sustainably is a great way we can all play our part in helping to turn the targets into reality. As well as buying low-carbon products we need to ensure our money goes to supporting sustainable businesses who produce things in a way that is good for the environment. Buying choices make a difference and every penny is a vote. We can build the world we want for ourselves and our families through the way we spend.’