Seven ways to give something back this Christmas

Ditch the festive consumerism and do some good this December

Area Guides, Festive

Ditch the rampant consumerism this Christmas and opt to give a gift for the greater good.

In the festive season it’s easy to get carried away with consumerism, and buying the flashiest gifts. If you are going to splash the cash then it’s worth considering doing it in a way that benefits your community. By spending a little time sourcing fair trade products or choosing ethical goods your gifts can keep on giving.

Buy cards that donate to charities
The Dubai Center for Special Needs has a year-round selection of greeting cards. These cards are varied and feature scenes ranging from traditional local heritage to exotic landscapes as well as paintings designed specially by students that attend the centre.
Cards Dhs3 each. (04 344 0966).

Buy fair trade
Fair trade is still a growing concept in Dubai but The Little Fair Trade Shop is a Dubai-based online store that sells a vast range of gifts, stationery and jewellery at a price that’s good to you and to the artisans who make the products. The store has an impressively broad collection of products that support organisations such as the Atfaluna Society for Deaf Children in Palestine, Swajan in Bangladesh, Bani Hamida Women’s Weaving Project in Jordan and Friends Handicraft, which works with rescued trafficked girls in Nepal. The owners also host stalls at some of the city’s markets, including Ripe’s. In the festive season you can buy hand-made decorations and gift wrap, and the creators are paid a fair percentage for their product – can you say fairer than that?

Look good – feel good
Cosmetics and bath sets are always a popular choice for gifts, and simply choosing products that are fair trade or work with cooperatives overseas to produce the ingredients means that you can support the workers. L’Occitane’s Shea butter range is made with fair trade shea butter from Burkina Faso. More than 15,000 women, organised into five regional associations, harvest the shea nuts and produce the butter. Joseph Kedemos, the general manager of L’Occitane in the Middle East, says the company supports the women’s work by purchsasing the butter directly from them and using it in L’Occitane’s skincare range. L’Occitane has a number of outlets in the UAE, including at The Dubai Mall and Marina Mall.

Ethical baby
It’s not too soon to get kids involved in an ethical lifestyle. Whether you’re buying gifts for your own little ones or shopping for a baby shower, taking an ethical approach doesn’t have to mean compromising on quality. Babouka, an online store based in Dubai sells high-end cotton baby clothes made by women who are assisted by an NGO in Pakistan and an NGO in Zanzibar. The Islamabad collection is inspired by traditional Pakistani clothing and includes a little boy’s cotton shalwar kameez, while the Zanzibar collection features cute dresses and bloomers in striking African-inspired patterns and bright colours. The funds raised go towards providing literacy education, healthcare and much more for the women in each location. The company ships worldwide, too.

A positive picture
Buying art is often considered an investment, so why not invest in a unique commission that not only looks beautiful but supports disabled artists. Mawaheb From Beautiful People is an art studio that encourages the disabled and those with special needs to express themselves through art. You can buy expressive art and paintings, cards and ceramic items, and all donations supports and develops the work of the charity and recognises the skills of the artists. (04 353 2100).

Adopt an animal
If you’re looking for something really different or want to buy a gift for a friend that’s notoriously hard to shop for, why not buy them a tiger, or a panda. With the World Wildlife Fund, you can adopt an animal and help to protect endangered species. As part of the donation pack you’ll received a cuddly toy of the animal you’ve adopted and a certificate.

An important date
The new year is two weeks away, so before you start planning for a big night why not get your calendar from Al Noor, a charity that assists children with special needs in Dubai. Every year it produces a calendar with beautiful paintings produced by the talented children of Al Noor.
Dhs10 calendars can be purchased from the Al Noor Charity Shop, (04 340 4844).

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