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Five festive season gift dilemmas solved!

ugly christmas jumper

Christmas Sweater (Flickr: theuglysweatershop)


The end of the year is a time to relax and celebrate with friends and family, but it can raise numerous ethical dilemmas, not the least around gift giving.

With a handful of rules, and a bit of help from reliable sources, you should be able to get around most of them.

1. Your kids want the latest fast fashion or brand name shoes?

Find out which major brand best manages its supply chain in the interests of workers and the environment, or choose a product that has sustainability and fair trade at its core. Etiko Hitops are just one example. They’re made of certified Fairtrade organic cotton and FSC-certified latex, and are 100% vegan.

2. You want to support a social enterprise that does good in Australia or overseas, but you don’t need another Bolivian hammock?

There’s lots of good ideas at Good Gift Shop like the “Footscrazy” hoodie or  the brilliant Sustainable Table Recipe Book.  On Checking it Twice you can find the Domozori Unisex Thongs are hand made from natural rush and cotton by vulnerable women working at Kamonohashi, a community project fighting sex trafficking in Cambodia.

3. It’s got to be jewellery … but what about conflict minerals and toxic conditions for workers?

Look for Fairtrade gold, jewellers certified by the Responsible Jewellery Council, or artisans who work with recycled materials and found objects. An example on the CHecking it Twice site are Two stainless steel handcrafted earrings made by Australian owned Polli Designs – they  use recycled materials and have a Carbon Reduction Institute low CO2 rating.

4. Is it possible to find ethical electronics?

The electronics industry is rife with environmental and human rights issues.

The Lameco eco-friendly touchscreen is made primarily from recycled materials. Or save a computer from landfill by choosing a refurbished HP laptop.

And if it’s a phone you need, check out the Fairphone project.

5. And for the person who has everything?

Choose an experience or a donation. Consider tickets to a festival, a concert or a class to learn a new skill. For specific suggestions go to Checking it Twice. For donations, Oxfam is famous for its goats, chickens and wells; but also consider smaller organisations like the Indigo Foundation or One Village.

Checking it Twice most popular




Bonus: Get personalised advice

As well as listing more great ideas, Checking it Twice offers personalised advice for that hard to buy for friend or family member.

Just enter info about who the gift is for, their budget, the issues they care about and perhaps the sort of present you have in mind, and the service will respond with a few suggestions.

Checking it Twice makes suggestions for both mainstream and niche brands that are making a change to benefit the earth, people and animals. Checking it Twice is not a shop and has no affiliation to any retailer or any other organisation.

The site also includes a number of tips on other Christmas related ethical issues, from how to prepare a sustainable Christmas meal to using the shared economy in Australia.


The service is provided by not-for-profit consumer group, Ethical Consumers Australia, which exists to make it easier for people to make consumer choices that align with their values. ECA is the publisher of Otter.

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