I’ve rounded up the best sustainable and ethical Christmas jumpers and sweaters this festive season, so you can keep warm in festive sartorial style.
How do you feel about Christmas jumpers? Love them? Hate them? By the fact that you’ve landed on this article, I’m guessing it’s the former, rather than the latter.
For those of us of a certain age, Christmas jumpers were very much not a thing. That was until Mark Darcy, the love interest in the 2001 movie Bridget Jone’s Diary, donned a garish Christmas jumper. Suddenly people started wearing Christmas jumpers, unironically. And then in 2012, the Danish thriller, The Killing, really popularised the Christmas jumper. Some twenty-plus years later since first being seen on screen, it seems Christmas jumpers are here to stay.
If that wasn’t enough to put Christmas jumpers on the map, then Save The Children also hosts an annual Christmas Jumper Day. This is a fun annual event where people wear their best (re: most ostentatious) Christmas jumpers to work or to school and donate money to Save the Children.
Since it was launched in 2012, the event has raised millions of pounds for children in the UK, and across the world, who live in poverty. This year it’s on Thursday 7th December 2023, should you be looking to don your best festive garb.
Why Do We Need Ethical Christmas Jumpers?
Christmas Jumper Day is undoubtedly a really great way to raise money for charity. However, like many forces for good, the event has been hijacked by the fast fashion industry.
The Christmas jumper craze started ethically with people raiding their granny’s wardrobe or rummaging in charity shops and vintage shops. However, fast fashion retailers quickly got in on the act. Now every supermarket and fast fashion retailer sells Christmas jumpers in the run-up to Christmas, often at bargain prices.
This low cost comes at a high environmental price. According to research by environmental charity Hubbub, one in four Christmas jumpers bought are thrown away or are unlikely to be worn more than once.
In fact, one in three under-35s buys a new Christmas jumper every year. When asked why 24% say they do not want to be seen in the same jumper as in previous years. Meanwhile, 29% say they are so cheap that they might as well get a new one every year.
Guide to Ethical Christmas Jumpers
With the impacts of fast fashion so devastating to both people and the planet, it makes good sense to minimise our impact where we can.
I am all about spreading festive cheer and raising money for charity. So, rather than go without a Christmas jumper, here are some ideas of where to buy more ethical Christmas jumpers:
Beyond Retro has an amazing selection of vintage Christmas jumpers and cardigans for both men and women. I’m talking amazing. From knitted Christmas vests to 80s winter scene sweatshirts to Nordic jumpers, right through to jolly festive cardigans, it’s all right here, in sizes XS to XXL.
With prices coming in at under £22 on most Christmas jumpers, cardigans and vests, you can pick up an ethical bargain comparable in price to the fast fashion retailers, without the environmental or social impact.
To make your money go even further, use the exclusive code MORALFIBRES at the checkout to receive 15% off your order at Beyond Retro.
eBay is great for shopping for vintage and secondhand Christmas jumpers. Albeit, this is on the proviso that you select jumpers that are in a used condition in the filter. You can find that option under the heading that says ‘condition’. If you don’t select that option, you will be flooded with brand-new jumpers made cheaply under who knows what working conditions.
Check out my post on eBay shopping tips to help you get the most for your money.
If you are specifically looking for vintage Christmas jumpers or new jumpers made by small independent sellers, then Etsy has a good selection.
The best I have found on Etsy is the Christmas jumper selection at a secondhand boutique called Marmalade Vintage, based in Manchester. Here you’ll find eco-friendly preloved Christmas jumpers priced between £12 and £20. However, there are some real gems to be uncovered on Etsy if you are prepared to search.
Charity retailer Oxfam Online is worth checking periodically for ethical secondhand Christmas jumpers. Owning to the nature of being donation-dependent, their stock levels do vary. However, if you are persistent you can unearth some real festive sartorial finds.
At the time of writing, there was a selection of sustainable preloved Christmas jumpers for kids, women and men, priced between £4.99 and £9.99. You can get a 10% discount on your order when you sign up to the Oxfam mailing list, and postage is a £3.95 flat fee, regardless of how many items you buy.
What’s more, all profits go towards supporting Oxfam’s work in alleviating global poverty – making your jumper a real feel-good purchase.
Vintage retailer Rokit has a small selection of ethical pre-loved Christmas jumpers for men and women, all below £25. Most of it is at the more modern end of what I would consider vintage, but there are some gems in there.
Get 10% off at Rokit by using the discount code TAKE10 at the checkout.
The Spark Company
The Spark Company is a female-founded and female-run feminist ethical retailer. Here all of its products are manufactured in a WRAP Gold-certified facility. This means that their products have been independently verified to be sweatshop-free, and there is no child labour involved.
What’s more, with every purchase, The Spark Company donate sanitary supplies to shelters and drop-in centres for those who can’t afford to buy these essentials.
Each year The Spark Company produces a limited run of their ethically made feminist Christmas jumpers (£37), in sizes 6 – 20. Made of soft cotton, these jumpers sell out every year so get in fast if this is on your wish list.
Other Ethical Christmas Jumper Tips
Of course, buying a new Christmas jumper should be your last resort. Here are some ideas for making your festive wardrobe more ethical and sustainable.
Keep It For Next Year (And The Year After That)
One of the most sustainable things we can do is to keep wearing the items we already have and to look after them. So wear your jumper as many times as you can over the festive period, and then wash and dry it according to the laundry care labels. Make any repairs to your jumper as you need to, and store it carefully for wear again next year.
Swap With a Friend
If you can’t bear to wear the same item twice, or if you have changed size, then why not organise a Christmas jumper swap with your friends? It’s a fun and sociable way to get a new-to-you item without buying anything new.
Buy Something You Can Wear All Year Round
Many Christmas jumper critics decree the ethics of buying a jumper that you only wear once or twice a year. If you feel the same, then why not buy something like a Fair Isle or Nordic-style patterned jumper?
These types of jumpers are festive enough to wear over Christmas dinner. However, no one would question you if you were still wearing them come February!
Try my guide to ethical jumpers to see if you can find something that fits the Christmas jumper bill.
If your best Christmas jumper is on its last legs, don’t bin it. Instead, you can get creative and upcycle it. Firstly, here’s how to make a cute Christmas-themed cushion from your old jumper. And if your jumper is too far gone, you can try this eco-friendly gift wrap idea using parts of your jumper.
How to Make Your Own Ethical Christmas Jumper
Another way to spread ethical cheer is to make your own Christmas jumper. Simply take a jumper you already own and add some temporary festive embellishments. From festive brooches to pinning on festive decorations, it’s really easy to add a seasonal twist to your existing wardrobe.
Looking for more sustainable Christmas ideas? Then do check out my big guide on how to have an eco Christmas. You’ll find everything from sustainable gift ideas, to advice on picking the most eco-friendly Christmas tree, to making your own natural Christmas decorations and a whole lot more!