By Farryn Stock|
December 2, 2021|
4 mins read
The giving and receiving of gifts are some of the biggest parts of Christmas. Nothing fills us with joy like spoiling loved ones with beautiful presents that we know they will appreciate. Shopping small this Christmas means that you are not only choosing a more sustainable option but also that you are choosing gifts that have individually been crafted with care.
On Saturday 5th December, it will be ‘Small Business Saturday’. A day for celebrating and shopping small businesses, it is a perfect way to kick off Christmas shopping in the right way. This Saturday, people will be encouraged to shop small for whatever they choose to purchase that day- from their morning coffee to their daily food shop. After the overconsumption that’s encouraged by Black Friday to Cyber Monday deals, Small Business Saturday comes as a counterweight with a positive emphasis on shopping for good.
What does it mean to “shop small”?
The phrase shopping small was created to celebrate shopping locally from small businesses and brands. Shopping from small businesses is a fantastic way to help put money back into local economies and support communities. When shopping from independent retailers, as appose to shopping giants, it often means that product ingredients are sourced locally and ethically and made to order on a much smaller scale. Examples of shopping small would be buying clothes from brands that are made locally by a small team, that do not import fabrics or other resources, rather than brands that mass produce their clothes abroad, for cheap labour prices and then import them into the UK. If where you are shopping is a chain for instance, then it wouldn’t be considered shopping small.
Why does shopping small help the environment?
One of the main reasons shopping with small businesses helps the environment is their reduction in carbon footprint, compared to large businesses. This is due to travel differences between the two. As previously mentioned, when purchasing from a small business, materials are sourced locally and often shipped locally too. This means that their transport is much smaller than that of large cooperation’s, which would require lorries or ships to import and export all their goods. When items have a large distance to travel or require heavy-duty shipping, that item then has a much greater carbon footprint. Founded by a Dutch study, deliveries from a local shop generate less than half the carbon emissions of that from a large business.
As human-made CO2 emissions are the largest contribution to global warming, opting for shopping from a business with half the carbon emissions makes a significant difference to the environment.
There are many other positive attributes for the planet that come with shopping small. To avoid waste of money or resources, many small businesses will generally work on a made-to-order basis. What this means is that, unlike large corporations who mass-produce their products, small businesses are only making what is required which means far less goes to waste. With 8.4m tonnes of plastic waste being produced from Covid-19, doing what we can to reduce waste production is vital.
Local businesses are also a lot more likely to be transparent with their packaging and eco efforts and often opt for using sustainable packaging rather than plastic. If you are ever unsure of the ingredients, materials, or packaging used by small brands, contacting them to find out this specific information is also a lot easier than large businesses. Shopping with brands that share our values as customers is the perfect way to shop guilt-free this Christmas.
What does that mean for our economy and communities?
Shopping small not only has a positive impact on our planet but also has great benefits on our country’s economy and the local communities. Small businesses help create jobs and put money back into communities, something that is essential to the UK after the economic hit we’ve taken, due to the pandemic. Founded by the Small Business Administration, small businesses create roughly 1.5 million jobs every year. With 114 million people having lost their job due to Covid 19 lockdowns, investing in businesses that help rebuild job opportunities is extremely necessary for our country’s financial recovery. By investing in local independent brands, we in turn help all of us to live in an economically thriving community.
What’s not always as easy to notice is the personal appreciation and gratitude that comes from small businesses when we shop at them. Small businesses often start as someone’s dream and every time a person decides to shop small, they help contribute to making that dream a success. The care and attention that goes into each order is a testament to the appreciation that small businesses have for those who want to make this planet better.
As Helen Round, a print and textiles designer puts it, “you are helping to support a small business that is passionate about creating employment opportunities for local people alongside beautiful products that are made to last and tread lightly on the earth.”
As you can see, there are many reasons why we should all try and shop small this Christmas for our planet, for our communities, and our economy. So, for anyone in need of a good place to start, here are some of our favourite hand-crafted, ethical, small businesses to take a look at:
Habulous by Nicky Edmunds is a unique and ethical homeware brand. Hand-crafted in Nicky’s studio, these beautiful pottery pieces are each as unique and personal as the last.
These stylish Macrame Turtle Bags are all handmade by Elsie, an Art foundation graduate of University of the Arts Camberwell. With a modern design and made from organic cotton, these bags are the perfect addition to any sustainably chic outfit.
Josephine Thomas is an independent brand, making high-quality natural candles and wellness goods. The brand’s process has a strong focus on producing products that are equally as good for the environment as they are for the individual.
This handmade accessory brand was founded in 2016 by Italian Designer Sara Bellinato. With all contemporary accessories made by hand, in London, by Sara, these timeless pieces are a wonderful gift for someone to cherish.