We Challenge You To Buy Better This Festive Season and Beyond

Singapore Dec 1, 2020

Whether you're buying gifts for others or yourself (why not?), here are some Christmas gift ideas that will bring joy to the world.

As the dust settles in the wake of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday retail holidays, it's easy to forget that we've been in retail purgatory since at least the 7th of July.

Singles' Day has been widely seen as being responsible for the barrage of successive double-digit day retail "festivals" (7.7,8.8,9.9, you get it), especially in the ASEAN region.

Make it stop.

The retail vortex of mass sales events, discounts from desperate retailers, and pandemic-onset "stress spending" has stoked an e-commerce boom. With the festive season looming, there's no slowing down in sight - because, commercialisation of the holidays!

This continues to fan the flames of overconsumption, which we know as a key contributor of many adverse effects on our environment. At nearly every turn of the mass production supply chain - cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, logistics, waste disposal - there are processes that are problematic for our environment. As a long simmering result, we are facing major environmental crises like climate change and plastic pollution, to name a few.

Which is why we're challenging you to buy better. Not just for Christmas' sake, but for a sustainable future and for extra feel-good points. Don't know where to start? Start here.

Hand crafted soap
Photo by Kristina Balić / Unsplash

Buy small

When you're offered limitless options of products at an unbeatable price and delivered to your doorstep within a week, it's hard to unhook yourself from shopping on e-commerce giants like Shopee and Amazon. In fact, so difficult that Amazon doubled its profits in spite of the pandemic.

Because Amazon has proven itself capable of surviving and even thriving during a global crisis, we think it's fair to ask you to seriously consider buying from small and local businesses that have been severely impacted by the pandemic.

Some of these businesses were borne of the pandemic as an alternative source of income due to redundancies. Others have been forced to get creative to stay afloat. This includes moving online due to the waning feasibility and sustainability of operating brick-and-mortar shops.

There's also something warm and fuzzy about connecting with the proprietors of these businesses, and earnestly falling in love with their goods and services that you just won't get with a trillion-dollar business.  

Etsy, Facebook and Instagram have been effective platforms for uncovering cool small and local businesses, so start scrolling there!

Photo by Tim Foster / Unsplash

Buy mindfully

Nobody likes seeing how the sausage gets made, but it's important to be curious! Take stock of the ethical and sustainability track record of the business you're buying from.

What are their manufacturing processes like? Do they treat their producers and labour force equitably? What certifications or accreditations do their raw materials have? Are they guilty of greenwashing?

When you buy from businesses that create positive environmental and social impact, you are supporting them in spreading the message that creating great products doesn't have to come at the cost of decency.

That makes one of us! (via GIPHY)

Buy less

Buying mindfully also entails buying minimally. We are buying much more and much quicker than we know what to do with our waste.

Before you input your CVV number into your order form pre-filled with your saved credit card details, it's worth pausing to ask yourself these questions:

Do I really need another one?
How often will I actually use it?
Do I have space at home for it?
How hard is it to get rid of it when I no longer need it?

While "reduce, reuse, recycle" has been a popular mantra, it's incredibly difficult to police effective recycling. Limited resources and systems mean in reality, only 9% of the global production of 8.3 billion tonnes of plastics has been recycled.

Reducing is the most straightforward and effective way to keep waste out of landfills, oceans, the bottom of beds, and the back of closets.

Reusing and Recycling Isn’t Working - Here’s Why We Need to Reduce
There, we said it. But hear us out. Your planet depends on it.

Photo by Fi Bell / Unsplash

Buy nothing

Here's a not so wild idea.

With 2020 being the official coming out year of sourdough savants, houseplant hobbyists and other alliterative artists - we've proven ourselves beyond expectation as being extremely creative, resourceful and excellent at following instructions.

So instead of buying fast, why not create slowly?

This doesn't make you cheap. Making handcrafted gifts is not only a balm for the soul, but time spent reflecting on how much the gift's recipient means to you. With each caring knead, stroke, stitch, trim or knot, you'll sink deeper into a meditative state - appreciating the process and the fact that you have loved ones for whom you're pouring your heart and soul into this gift.

Now lord knows, with the year we've had - doesn't that sound absolutely delightful?

Are you ready to buy better this Christmas? For more unordinary ideas about coliving, furniture rental, interior design, community, home rental and more, follow us on social media or subscribe. Learn more about Hmlet at our main website.


Yilynn Chan

Hmlet contributor. My Venn diagram is three interlocking circles.