Southwell has been welcoming visitors at Christmas for over 900 years. For most of those years those visitors were focussed on the Minster, but they are also now drawn by the town’s retailers.
A busy high street full of independent shops is good for the economy, our community and the environment. We don’t have to travel so far to meet our needs; money is kept in local pockets, which can feed back into the community elsewhere; and we are more likely to meet friends, chat with the shopkeepers, and find out about local events, helping to fulfil our social needs.
If each of the 11,000 households in the area spends an extra £5 a week locally, that generates nearly £3 million to sustain local services.
This is as important, perhaps more important, at Christmas. We can further reduce our environmental impact through a few other steps too:
Buy ethical: there’s no single badge, but if you have a gift in mind, consider whether there are ethical choices that can be made, whether that’s choosing organic, plastic-free, or fair trade. We can use our consumer power a message to the market about the world we want to live in.
Buy secondhand: With a bit of hunting charity shops often have great gifts at low prices. Even better if you make it a rule and set the challenge amongst friends or family to find the best charity shop gift. It’s all in a good cause.
Make: What do you get the person who has everything? Cake! Home-made gifts, from cookies to crafts, are unique, have more personality, and can cost less.
Buy less: Run a secret santa if you have a big gathering, so everyone gets one decent present, and remember that gifts don’t have to be about ‘stuff’. Consider whether your family or friends would appreciate vouchers for experiences such as beauty treatments or craft classes, or a hand-made voucher promising them a day out (or a day off!).