For most of us, 2020 has brought more tears than thrills, so it would be easy to just write-off the holiday season and concentrate on starting 2021 with a clean slate. But if this year has taught us anything, it’s that we can no longer stand back and turn a blind eye to the injustices of the world. It’s more important than ever before that we throw our support behind the things we believe in.
That's why we've teamed up with The Body Shop and all-around legend Jan Fran to dive deep on how we can have an impact this holiday season. From those important convos around the dinner table to ethical gifting, here's how you can kick-start your activism journey in a few easy steps.
Jan is an impressive slashie – “journalist/doco-maker/internet commentator, I suppose!” – who has done everything from hosting SBS’s The Feed for six years, and working on numerous documentaries, to creating her own online opinion series, The Frant. While she considers herself “more in the advocacy space than the activism space,” Jan is a passionate campaigner for the issues focused on women and girls, homelessness, refugees and the environment.
“The way I look at it is asking myself, “How do I use my platform for good? I’m somebody who wants to advocate for those that either can’t advocate for themselves, or for causes that are dear to my heart.”
Chill Chats Have A Huge Impact
Jan explains that while changing the world may seem like a daunting task, the perfect place to begin is simply by speaking about issues with those closest to you. “Start with the people you know – your friends, family, colleagues,” she says. “Don’t go into it thinking that you know the answer, or with an ulterior motive, just approach it with a sense of curiosity around what you’re talking about and the conversation will be much more open. Particularly over the festive season, people are at home with their families, talking around the dinner table, so it’s the perfect time to open up the conversation.”
Make A Difference And Vote With Your Wallet
Family and domestic violence is the number one cause of homelessness for women and children in Australia, with women comprising two out of every three people accessing homeless services. With extra time spent at home during lockdown this year, rates of domestic and family violence are on the rise, so this could be the worst holiday season for homelessness yet.
“2020 has been tough for everyone, especially those facing housing hardships,” Jan says. “To address this issue, this year The Body Shop has teamed up with Launch Housing, a vital organisation helping Australian women and children facing homelessness.” With part of the profits from every purchase at The Body Shop going straight to Launch Housing, you can feel good about where your dollars are heading.* From there, Jan says the best thing you can do is to “educate yourself on exactly what homelessness is, who is affected by it, and the ways in which they’re affected by it. I think a lot of people just don’t know some of the realities out there. One of the first steps to fixing a problem is really understanding it and where it comes from.”
Back Conscious Gift Giving
While it’s easy to sucked into the unavoidable barrage of advertising, try to make thoughtful decisions when purchasing gifts. Skip the gimmicks, and either donate to a worthy cause or look for brands doing the right thing. “If I had one message over the festive season, it would be to really think about the stuff that you buy – where it comes from and where it’ll end up,” Jan says. “If you don’t need it, don’t get it. If you do buy a gift, let it be from a place that has a partnership with an organisation doing great work on the ground, like The Body Shop. Also, think about all the plastic that might come with your products – is there a way that they can be a bit more environmentally sustainable? Do you have to buy plastic decorations? Can you reuse stuff from last year?”
Help A Girl And Change The World
Jan is also an ambassador for Plan International, a charity that has provided education to 4.5 million girls and young women across the globe so far. If this sounds like something you’d want to support, jump online and either donate, or purchase a ‘gift’ – the options include things like “train and support a woman to run her own crop farm,” or “supply a child’s school breakfast for a year.”
“Through my work with Plan International, we try and empower, and provide a space for girls, teenagers and young women to be able to advocate for themselves, feel confident in who they are, what they want, and get their message out there,” she explains. “My hope for the women of tomorrow is that they feel strong, supported, and as though the world belongs to them as much as it does to anyone else. In a lot of public life, young women tend to be ignored, and we’ve seen the way that they can lead tremendous change around the world if you take Greta Thunberg, Malala Yousafzai and Emma Gonzalez as examples.”
Get Educated With Eye-Opening Reads
One of the best ways to educate yourself about issues plaguing the wider world is by reading some thought-provoking literature. While there’s no shortage of top-notch books out there, in particular Jan recommends a personal favourite that she sunk her teeth into this year - Talking Up to the White Woman, by Dr. Aileen Moreton-Robinson. “It was written 20 years ago and is one of the most impactful books that I’ve read over this past year,” Jan says. “If you’re a woman and you consider yourself a feminist in Australia, you must read this.”
Ditch Fast Fashion This Festive Season
This year in particular has shone a harsh light onto the wrongs of the fashion industry. So instead of heading online to pick out that dress you just have to have for your work Chrissy party, give your wardrobe a second look, rent something for the occasion or head to a thrift shop. “I care a lot about clothing sustainability,” Jan says. “During my time at SBS I was inspired by two very fashion-forward stylists who worked there. Along with myself, we looked at my television wardrobe, which was ballooning, and thought, “Where’s all this stuff going to end up? What happens to the clothes that I’ll never wear again?” We decided that we’d only buy second hand from going forward. What started as an experiment, has grown into something much bigger for me. The more you read about it, the more you realise just how many resources go into making a single item of clothing. It’s important to raise awareness about the over-consumption of textiles and materials, particularly with online shopping and the ease with which we are able to purchase and then throw away clothes.”
Ready to make a difference and ring in 2021 in the right way? If so, ensure your first stop is to The Body Shop, to stock up on the best in beauty and bath products to tuck under the tree for your loved ones, making ethical, good-for-your-conscious gifting this festive season easier than ever.
*From October 26th to December 25th 2020, The Body Shop will be donating $0.03 from every purchase to Launch Housing, to a maximum of $35,000, coming together to act against homelessness, domestic violence and gender inequality.
This article is sponsored by The Body Shop and proudly endorsed by Urban List. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who make Urban List possible. Click here for more information on our editorial policy.