This particular post came about as I was writing this month’s newsletter. I intended to write a short paragraph about our Gift Vouchers and what great Christmas presents they make – about how to gift our loved ones with experiences and presents that really mean something. We’re biased, of course, but we do believer our Gift Vouchers make a more thoughtful and conscientious gift than another scented candle or pair of socks (although I do have a particular soft spot for novelty socks). I started thinking about the Christmas season and what a strain it is on us and our environment, which led me to thinking about choices, and how this ties into our business Ethos. I wanted to give myself some space to fully explore this topic, so this blog post was born. So, if you’ll bear with me, I’d like to share some thoughts (and a call to action!) with you on Christmas, the Environment, and how to run a business Ethically.
Christmas and the lead up to it can be a somewhat stressful time. I know this not just from my own heightened levels of stress, but also in the increase in clients desperate for some relaxation at this time of year. While we can most certainly put this down to seasonal change and the effects that less sunlight has on our bodies and minds, a big part of that is the nervous anticipation of what can be a demanding time of year. There’s so much to think about – presents, food, parties, family dynamics… and add into that lots of (don’t get me wrong… lovely!) booze and it’s depressive effect on our body, it’s no wonder many of us are so exhausted come January.
We’re bombarded every year with constant adverts on loop forcing Christmas cheer on us and telling us we need more tat and meaningless products to show our loved ones how much we care about them. It can be exhausting – on our bodies, on our energy, on our wallets, and not least on the environment. Businesses rush to create vast amounts of cheap products in excess (some using cheap labour and questionable business practices to do so) to meet ever-growing demand. A lot of this just ends up in landfill along with their plastic packaging and wrapping, or they clutter up our houses and our minds. It’s not a stretch to say that our planet does not need this extra strain on it’s dwindling resources!
With heightened awareness, however, comes more alternative choices. Search online for ‘Ethical Christmas’ and you get pages and pages of results, and websites full of advise and information on not just eco-friendly and ethical gifts, but also how to be waste-free, how to cook an ethical Christmas dinner, gift wrapping without using tons of plastic paper and where to get your Christmas Tree. More and more businesses are becoming aware of growing social and environmental needs, taking responsibility and striving to offer alternatives. It’s inspiring, and a move in the right direction. Of course, we still have to be careful of false claims or made-up certification – ‘Green Washing‘ is abundant, so it’s important to read the labels or consult a reliable source!
I’m currently halfway through my Masters in Social Entrepreneurship, something which was inspired by my time here at The Little Escape. I’m very privileged to have been Centre Manager for 5 years, working alongside our owner Lilja to run the business and keep our clients, therapists and receptionists happy. Over the years, we’ve sought to shape The Little Escape to be a different sort of business – one which doesn’t seek to create profit, but which offers real support for everyone involved. The temptation to cut our costs and maximise our income is always there, as it isn’t easy to make a business at the very least sustainable in our current economy, and in the sector which we’re in. We make sacrifices to ensure we can charge fair rates to our therapists, keep costs reasonable for clients, and to make sure all our supplies and products are eco-friendly and cruelty-free and, where possible, local. This is entrenched in our business Ethos – health and holism incorporates not just our own health and happiness, but that of our planet and all those who reside in it.
One day in a our near future we hope to fully become a Social Enterprise so we can have the structural support to continue practising democratically and transparently and to better represent the needs of our clients, therapists and our amazing receptionists. We also believe that this change will allow for more financial support and autonomy for practitioners to in turn be able to offer more low-cost treatments. There are a lot of vulnerable people who might benefit from some help and support but who cannot otherwise afford to pay for themselves. We would like to reach out and offer what we can but we need to do this sustainably and meaningfully, by making sure that our therapists are covered so that they don’t lose out financially. What form this change will take will become clearer as we work towards that goal, but we would like this process to involve everyone that makes up The Little Escape – and that includes you, our amazing clients. We would love to hear from you: Ideas, thoughts, things you’d like to see from us, or things you think we can do better.
Thanks for sticking with me on this post! We hope you have a wonderful Christmas in whatever form that takes 🙂