Christmas For Good

by Estelle Sherlock | 

Christmas is a season for giving, well it has been in recent times anyway (Coca Cola has a lot to answer for with their jolly man dressed in red and weighed down with gifts).  A season for giving, feasting and generally indulging in excess . . . needless to say it’s not my favourite time of the year; simply because I think that the wave of consumerism has enveloped us all and swept us up in its flow, regardless of any honourable intentions to the contrary.  But, on a positive note (it’s not all bah humbug, honest!) the festive season is a fabulous time to use our social conscious, to give in a way that makes us feel good, while also doing good for others.

Recently, I have been become more involved in raising awareness of several current and global issues including the devastating effects of plastic pollution, the needs of those sleeping rough on the streets in a UK winter and the need for basic equipment, education and mentoring in Uganda.  There is no denying that the world is large and we as individuals are incredibly minute, but this should not excuse any of us, including companies, organisations and networks from making some effort to make a small difference.  Small gestures are just the building blocks for greater things, especially in organisations where providing role models and opportunities and leading by example fires up the imagination of everybody touched by it.

A season for Giving

Newcomers to the foodie scene locally have been leading by example in just this way.  They have put in place a #payitforward scheme where for every meal bought in December, they promise to provide a warm nutritious meal to a local person in need. This is a start-up business, run by a young husband and wife team who have recently relocated from London where they worked in marketing, not a chain or large established business.  I for one, would love to see more of the bigger names making similar community focused gestures, ensuring a massive difference for good.

Here at LimeCloud we are very aware of our corporate social impact and want to do our little bit to make a difference.  We are currently creating an ‘Impact’ page for our website which will provide more information on how we are going about this, so watch this space.  Our office dog Oscar is a very important member of our team and we wouldn’t be without him.  He has inspired us to use the Give as you Live scheme to fundraise for Border Terrier Welfare, which means through our individual and company purchasing we are donating to the charity, helping Oscar’s less fortunate border terrier furpals.  There is a wide range of charities available on the platform, so why not take a look:

There are some fantastic resources and organisations available which make it really simple for businesses to make a difference with very little effort, meaning it is possible to give back just by doing the things we do every day.  In the past it was just simply handing over a cheque to charity, but these days there are many other ways to show we care, often using advances in technology.  As well as the Give as you Live scheme already mentioned here are some more resources, along with local alternatives, curated to inspire:

Go local: donate to your community food bank on a regular basis.  Simple.

Go local: get involved with your community and plant some trees.  Simple.

Go local: keep a charity collecting box in the office for small change.  Simple.

Plastic oceans

The most important factor is that you choose a method of giving that aligns with your own values and engages your team, ensuring maximum benefit is achieved.  Even if it seems a small impact in the grand scheme of things, every positive change can make a difference and can inspire others.

Living near the coast in the beautiful South West of England, I can never take for granted the fragile ecosystem of the North Devon Biosphere where I live, play and work.  It is incredibly saddening that more and more plastic waste is finding its way into our waterways and then into our marine and bird life.  This of course, is not just a problem in my backyard, but a serious global issue that must be addressed.  I’m sure we have all heard the prognosis . . . by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish (you can read more about that here).

It’s a scary thought and one that will affect us all, but we can all do a little to turn the tide on plastic pollution, importantly as individuals, but we mustn’t underestimate the power of leading by example in business.  If companies of all sizes embraced the concept of reducing plastics used, either by going without (lets face it, we have all come across completely pointless plastics that just are not needed) or by choosing environmentally friendlier options that do actually eventually degrade (unlike plastic, of course), this would go a long way towards a plastic revolution. 

Of course, there are times where we are limited by the options available to us, along with plenty of reasons why plastic can’t always be avoided right now.  However, putting in place the facilities for genuine recycling of these plastics is again, an important move for the impact this makes on the environment, but also the impact that is made on customers, partners and colleagues alike. Leading by example is all it takes to raise awareness, showing what is possible and making sure that the management of plastics is just routine in everyday life. 

The balance

I’m sure it’s obvious that I am passionate about the world around me, very conscious of my carbon footprint and the impact that I am making on this planet.  My aim is to tread lightly, but frankly this is sometimes very difficult - next month I will be flying thousands of miles to New Zealand to spend Christmas with my extended family, I will over indulge in my favourite chocolate bars, wrapped in plastic and I will probably end up buying my kids plastic in some form to open on Christmas Day.  But, in an effort to balance out these environmental impacts, my family and I will be planting a tree on my parents land, we will spend a day involved in the conservation of marine life and we will collect waste plastics from every beach we visit.  I’m not a green warrior and I’m certainly not perfect, but hopefully I am doing a little to lessen the burden on our ecosystem and in doing so providing a model for my children to follow.

Sustainable giving

This year my Christmas shopping has included a bicycle for my parents-in-law, because despite being in their late 80’s they love to cycle.  The bicycle though, is not actually for them to ride, it's for a person in Uganda, which gives them the opportunity to ‘pedal out of poverty’. [https://fundraise.charitycheckout.co.uk/amigosworldwide/cf/pedal-out-of-poverty]  I have also chosen to provide some hot meals and some pairs of thermal gloves to the homeless in our local community, in lieu of buying and sending out Christmas Cards this year.

A season for giving, yes, but if we all made some alternative choices, with sustainability and the bigger picture in mind, what a season of giving for good it would be.  I love that Sarah Millican on Twitter is providing a platform for social interaction for all those who will be alone at Christmas using the hashtag #joinin - what a fantastic way to bring lonely people together.

Just one final thought about Christmas and the spirit of giving: why not treat every day as if it were Christmas Day?  Of course I don’t mean in terms of eating chocolate for breakfast and generally overindulging . . . but in reaching out to others, going the extra distance to make a difference and to be united in the spirit of goodwill.  

Is it too early?  Probably... but Merry Christmas, all the same.


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