ETHICAL shoppers are snubbing the festive frenzy on the High Street to make it a ‘green Christmas’ this year

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

One of Britain’s biggest online ethical marketplaces reports a surge in demand for fair trade and environmentally-friendly products from conscientious consumers this yuletide.

The number of visitors to the website, which showcases 10,000 eco-friendly and organic products, has more than doubled from 20,000 to 50,000 visitors a month in the run-up to Christmas.

And the recession-busting rush to have an ethical Christmas recession shows no sign of letting up.

Amanda Golding, Communications Manager for said: “I think people are rejecting the brash consumerism of Christmas this year and want to do something which is more meaningful.

“That’s why they are buying fair trade and organic products which help some of the poorest communities in the world and don’t damage the planet.

“The web site has had more hits than ever before this year – there seems to be a real move towards ethical giving this Christmas. We have never seen anything like it before.

“The recession seems to have made people think more seriously about what they are buying – and they are finding that ethical goods need not be more expensive, than conventional products. Ethical giving is now part of the mainstream and is becoming the norm, rather than the exception.”

The number of ethical suppliers on the site has also soared from just 15 two years ago, to 125 this Christmas. All are members of the Hampshire-based Ethical Junction Community Interest Company and have to satisfy strict environmental and fair trade criteria to be included.

The site showcases a huge range of utterly unique and limited edition Christmas gifts from around the world, including fair trade Fir Christmas trees grown from seeds ethically sourced in Georgia; solar powered fairy lights; recycled Grolsch drinks glasses; individual teddy bears hand-made from charity shop clothing; silk Shanga necklaces from Tanzania; bamboo t shirts and socks; eco kettles and eco balls (for the laundry) and handmade Savannah leather cases from a co-operative in Rajasthan.

Tom Barnett of Ethical Junction, said: “We are witnessing the rise of the ‘conscious consumer’ this Christmas.

“Ethical spending, as documented by the Co-operative, has been rising steadily from £25.8billion in 2004 to £35.5billion in 2007.

“People are becoming more aware of what they are actually consuming - everyone has now heard of "fair trade" and "organic" products.

“We've noticed traffic grow consistently across all our web sites. Ethical Junction membership has more than doubled since 2005 and we have seen hundreds more retailers and suppliers step in to the market.

“This Christmas, following last year’s "consumer crunch" debacle, more people than ever before are thinking carefully about what they buy.”

Personally the only thing that I am seeing when it comes to “green” products that there era also, unfortunately, a number of rip off artists – and that in the literal sense as well – who market recycled products at rather high prices; things that anyone who has hands could make themselves from waste.

While, I am sure, we are all for supporting co-operatives somewhere in the Third World who use trash from which to make resalable goods the artists who turn a bit of old rope into a “belt lace” and then sell it for £75 or the one in Brazil who wraps some colored cotton string – organic, I hope – around an old wine bottle and sells it as a vase for £35 are not something that I, for one, could support.

© 2009