Five ethical ways to support St Albans and beyond with your Christmas shopping this year

PUBLISHED: 05:58 06 December 2014

ID of inside of Raindrops on Roses shop

ID of inside of Raindrops on Roses shop

Archant

In the spirit of love, joy and kindness, check out these festive ethical ways you can spend money in St Albans, which are supportive of the local community and beyond.

Festive food bank donations

When you go shopping, consider buying festive treats to drop off at a local food bank. Those turning to food banks, are more likely to miss out on the ‘little extras’ that make Christmas feel special.

A tin of biscuits, a tub of chocolates or seasonal snacks are sure to bring a smile. Celebrity comedians, Justin Moorhouse and Jason Manford, recently launched a campaign, encouraging people take advent calendars to food banks. According to the Trussell Trust, it raised so much interest, their website crashed.

Local food banks include St Albans and District Food Bank, The Cunningham Hub in Cell Barnes Lane (Tuesdays, 3pm-5pm) www.trusselltrust.org and FEED, which is based in Vineyard Church s between 10am and noon on Mondays. Items can be dropped off most days. Visit www.thevineyardchurch.co.uk/feed for more details.

Cards that raise money and awareness

Christmas card purchases are an easy ethical way to share the love! As well as donating to specific charities, they also help spread awareness.

A huge selection is sold by the Abbey, including packs with religious and non-religious themes that children can colour in, for under £2.

The Cards for Good Causes Multi Charity Christmas Card Shop, is based in the South Transept, opposite the Cathedral Bookstall.

It’s open until Thursday 18 December, from 10am-4pm (Monday to Friday), and 10am-3.30pm on Saturdays, and 1pm-4.45pm on Sundays. For additional information, see www.stalbanscathedral.org.

Life-changing quirky gift ideas

Oxfam on Chequer Street, St Albans, sells plenty of Christmas gift ideas, such as an eco-friendly, reusable foldable water bottle, handmade worry dolls and a chilli chocolate roulette game.

Their popular Unwrapped gifts mean you could give manure to you mother-in-law, a share in a farmyard to your brother - or treat your boss to clean water for a month. Why not buy a pair of goats for your grandparents?

From £5, these gifts are literally life changing in the communities they are received. They give the recipient a feel-good sensation that lasts into the New Year, and provide a solution to present-buying dilemmas.

Who wouldn’t want a sheep?! Train a beekeeper (£12), give food markets a boost (£8) or buy safe water for ten people for a tenner. They don’t need wrapping, are easy to post and take up no space in your home. Other seasonal items available in store and online, are Fair Trade novelty chocolate, decorations and calendars. See www.oxfam.org.uk.

Supporting talent and fighting cancer

Raindrops on Roses, in High Street, St Albans, is run mostly by volunteers, and gives all of its profits to cancer charity.

Herts Against Cancer is devoted to saving lives through raising awareness and improving early detection.

It is also an ethical place to spend Christmas funds because it aids the local community’s creative talent, as some products are crafts from St Albans-based artists.

Raindrops on Roses describes its ethos as “a place where you can buy and do something special”. The unique and charitable shop recently celebrated its second anniversary and just handed over another cheque for £25,000 towards a new scanner, which will spot the earliest stages of the disease.

There are many stylish distinctive items, such as new leather make-up cases, cute animal rattles and cufflinks, at prices to suit any budget. Check out www.raindropsonroses.org.uk.

Making more space at home, giving to charity

At this time of year, many parents clear out toys, which are still good quality, to make space for new ones.

Donating them to St Albans-based charity shops such as Scope, in The Maltings, or Cancer Research UK, in High Street, gives others a chance to pick up great bargains and helps raise money for much-needed causes.

The same applies to unwanted books in good condition, which would be happily received by Oxfam bookshop in Catherine Street. You could even give twice and find a vintage present while you’re dropping off your goods!

Emmaus has several shops, including in Hill End Lane, St Albans, which sell bric-a-brac. They recently sold a silver cutlery set for £100. You could grab an antique bargain, which would make a great gift and support the homeless project. For details go to www.emmaus.org.uk.

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