As we approach the end of 2019, let’s look forward to a more thoughtful, more sustainable Christmas this year. It might just help usher in a better new year for more people around the world…

What. A. Year.

At the end of 2019, you might be wondering if you’ve got the energy to launch headlong into the festive season.

But if one thing can give us hope, it’s that this year has seen powerful climate action like never before – and that’s crucial for the poorest areas of the world, paying the biggest price for the climate crisis.

We believe everyone can play role in a greener, more sustainable future for all of us. The people of Garu, a district in northern Ghana, are showing that it’s possible.

There are typically only two seasons in Garu – the dry season and the rainy season. Climate change has meant that, over the years, the dry seasons have become drier and the rainy seasons have become more unpredictable. It’s led to bad harvests and hunger – with families sometimes surviving on just one bowl of maize.

But now, green, lush fields of crops are growing thanks to new farming techniques, solar-powered water systems and community-run savings and loans schemes that fund tools, ploughing cattle and fertilisers.

Montage woman and child man in field and running water

Felicia and her child (left) and Abass (bottom right).

These communities are the inspiration not only for our Green Christmas appeal, but for our campaign for a greener, more sustainable Christmas this year – with more thought and less waste.

Little actions like making Fairtrade and sustainable food choices, buying ethically sourced and second hand gifts, or cutting down on waste and making the most of leftovers can make a big difference, and your local Oxfam shop is a good place to start.

So in the run-up to Christmas, we’ll be sharing easy tips and tricks to make this festive season better for people and planet – as well as regular updates from the communities of Garu, northern Ghana, as they prepare for a different Christmas themselves.

However you do Christmas this year, we hope you’ll celebrate with us. Do it a little differently, and let’s usher in a brighter, bolder new year for everyone.

We’ve made a different Christmas to-do list to help you get started…

1. The (good) food shop

Fairtrade swaps

Swapping your usual chocolates, teas, coffees and sugar for Fairtrade options is an easy way to help farmers affected by climate change to earn a fair and decent living. Not only that – you can find some amazing luxury Fairtrade treats that make great presents.

Our online shop has a whole range of Fairtrade festive food that’ll go down well with the family.

Sourced by Oxfam gifts

Seasons eatings

Roast veg

If you’re a Christmas dinner traditionalist, you’re already on to a climate-friendly winner – because sprouts, parsnips, and carrots are all in season and can be locally grown. So well done you!
If you dread the usual suspects, have no fear – squash, kale, beetroot and cabbage are all in season for December too.

2. Really green Christmas trees

Christmas trees

Buying your tree

On the whole, real trees are climate-friendly because they do a job of capturing carbon from the atmosphere while they’re being grown.

To make sure yours has been grown sustainably, look out for the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) label. If you can buy a small pot-grown tree, or one with a root ball, you might even be able to replant it for next year. If you can, buying one locally grown can further reduce your carbon footprint.

If you’ve already got an artificial tree, pack it down carefully each Christmas to reduce wear and tear, so that you can use it year after year.

Choosing decorations

Our Sourced By Oxfam range includes some beautiful tree decorations hand made from sustainable materials. Like our tree garland, made from recycled sari material by our amazing fair trade partners Sasha.

Sourced by Oxfam gifts

3. Gift shopping (with a difference)

Second hand

Second hand might not be your first thought when it comes to gift giving – but it can turn up some beautiful gift ideas. And if you took part in Second Hand September, it’s a wonderful way to continue your support.

Look out for special and first edition hardback books, rare and classic vinyl, retro home-ware and vintage fashion accessories among other items that’ll delight loved ones on Christmas morning.

Brand new

Buying brand new can also help people and planet, when you choose gifts from small businesses and artisans who put a huge amount of care into making their product. In our Sourced By Oxfam range you will find some absolute gems – including totally gorgeous jewellery made by Lima Lima, who use recycled or locally sourced materials wherever possible.

Sourced by Oxfam jewellery

Completely different

If you want to go totally off-grid in your gift giving, why not buy your loved ones goats, chickens or piles of poo? These are all legitimately great gift ideas, that you can find in our Oxfam Unwrapped range of charity gift cards. They’ll put a smile on people’s faces and help beat global poverty in ways you might not have thought.

4. Partywear that cares


Last year, we found out that the UK spends an incredible £3.5 billion on new clothes for the Christmas party season, but eight million of those items are worn only once. It’s a worrying trend that can end up with tonnes of seasonal fashion ending up in landfill.
Thankfully, you have an earth friendly alternative on your high street. Every year in the run up to Christmas, Oxfam shops go big on second hand partywear, bringing out their very best Christmas sparkle to hang on the rails. So find a shop near you and treat yourself to a browse ahead of your Christmas do.

5. Wrapping the presents (with your eco-credentials covered)

Sustainable Christmas wrapping


Fabric knot wrapping is a gorgeous, zero-waste way to wrap your gifts. Inspired by furoshiki, the Japanese tradition which uses origami-like techniques, knot wrapping can be done with scarves, handkerchiefs and fabric off-cuts. Your local Oxfam shop will have plenty of second hand options if you need to stock up.


When it comes to wrapping your gifts with paper, we stock some really lovely recycled and craft-based options that are responsibly sourced.

Revive and reuse old paper by finishing with parcel string and sprigs of holly or rosemary, or block printed with patterned wooden stamps for a festive feel.

On the whole, glitter and foil stamped wrapping paper isn’t recyclable – but you can extend its life by reusing any you have to make decorations, envelopes and more.

Throughout the festive season, we’ll be sharing more ways that you and families around the world can enjoy a #GreenChristmas. Stay up to date or share your own sustainability tips using the hashtag.

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