Christmas can be a stressful time of year with presents to buy, events to attend, food to prepare and family to negotiate. But amongst the crazy chaos of this festive season, we can also ensure that the choices we make contribute to making the world look more like the Kingdom of God.
Author Anne Lappe said “Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want,” and we spend a heck of a lot of money on Christmas! It is estimated in a Sydney Morning Herald article that “Australian shoppers will spend more than $48.1 billion in retail stores over the Christmas trading period,” and much of this ends up being wasted on unwanted or unused gifts.
If we truly want to make a difference this Christmas then we need to be intentional in the way we spend our money by shifting our focus away from ourselves and towards the needs of others.
So how can we do that?
Consider buying from ethical sources. In this way we can ensure that we are actively creating a world where workers are treated fairly in the workplace, where labourers get a fair wage for a day’s work, where children are not subjugated to working to survive but free to attend school and just be kids, and where men and women can work in safety. While you will not be able to buy every item you think of from ethically sourced providers, there are plenty of great choices out there these days from both ethical shopping specific sites and from within mainstream shopping outlets. The idea is that where there is the choice to buy ethically – do it!
- Oxfam or OzFairTrade offer a fantastic range of gifts (homewares, jewellery, clothing etc.) for people of all ages while ensuring that the people who made these beautiful gifts are rewarded for the hard work they have put in.
- ‘Shop Ethical!’ can also assist you in making ethical purchases
- Buying from local small businesses – particularly those that create their own stock – ensures you are supporting your local community.
- Baptist World Aid Australia’s Ethical Electronics Guide can be downloaded here so that you can have it handy as you pick out your gifts to ensure you are choosing the most just and ethical option available.
- Baptist World Aid Australia’s Ethical Fashion Guide (downloadable here) helps you know where to buy ethically sourced fashion.
- The ‘Good On You’ App can be used on your phone year-round, and helps you to choose stores that sell from ethical sources.
- If you are purchasing jewellery as a Christmas present this year, check out our article on where to buy ethically-sourced Jewellery to ensure that those who source and make your bling are not taken advantage of (e.g. Michael Hill Jewellers use ‘The Kimberly Process’ to ensure that their diamonds are conflict-free.)
Another fantastic option this Christmas is to purchase a gift that will support others in developing nations. If, like most of us, you don’t really need anything this Christmas then instead of receiving some unnecessary gift just for the sake of it, why not request a gift for someone else?
- Salvo Gifts provides you with the opportunity to give really important gifts to some of our poorest neighbours. From simple gifts like seeds to help establish vege-gardens, to immunisations to help kids survive often-fatal diseases, to major gifts like establishing clean water systems or providing nursing visits to remote communities. These gifts are literally life-changing, and if you don’t need anything else to clutter up the shelf, then why not ask for one of these. And if you know your brother or sister doesn’t really need anything either, then why not buy them one too (or even better, why not agree as a family to purchase one of the bigger items, sharing the Christmas spirit from your family to another family on the other side of the world!)
- When buying food, see if there is a FairTrade option available. Foods like chocolate, tea and coffee can be sourced ethically and are available at your usual Supermarket – Coles and Woolworths have a great range. Choose the ethical option when you have one! More information is available on the FairTrade website.
- It is estimated Australians spend about $19 billion on food at Christmas but waste about 35% of that food. This Christmas, why not plan to eat a little less (and we all know this will still be more than enough!) and donate the money saved to those who need it this Christmas? Consider donating a food hamper to the Salvation Army Food Drive – this could also be a fun activity to get kids involved with by letting them pick the items that go into the hamper and a great opportunity to teach them about helping those in need.
When Lappe said “Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want,” she is basically saying “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Luke 6:34). What you invest your money in shows what is important to you. This Christmas, lets invest in those who have little, in those who strive for a better life despite horrendous working conditions, and in making this world a fairer place for everyone.