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Ethical Shopping

Looking for ethical decorations? Why not buy them from the birthplace of Christmas

Ros Pollock, founder of Bethlehem Baubles, explains how these decorations with a difference help change lives

As part of our Meet the Maker series, we speak to the people behind the creations in the Big Issue Shop – a platform for buying products which put people and the planet first. This time, we speak to Ros Pollock, founder of Bethlehem Baubles – selling ethical Christmas decorations from the home of the nativity.

What can we find on your part of the Big Issue Shop?

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We bring you decorations from where the story of Christmas comes from. Our individual handblown baubles are packed in individual boxes with a certificate of origin that can be sent anywhere in the world.  People love them and come back every year to buy our new designs with dated ribbons.

How do your ethical Christmas decorations make a positive difference in the world? 

Finding work in Palestine is challenging so I thought the best way to support them was to create a business that had a future and could support artisans for years to come. It is so important they can work with dignity and not rely on charity and Christmas was the obvious thing to focus on. 

Every year so much money is spent on Asian bling that represents nothing – but bling! We aim to put the meaning back into Christmas by offering something that genuinely helps the community of Bethlehem.

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What inspired you to start your company and how did it start?

I used to live in Jerusalem – we were a UN family posted there for a few years. I wanted to find a way of creating a regular income for Palestinian artisans and of course Christmas and Bethlehem seemed the obvious thing to focus on. I side tracked the glassblowers, who have been blowing glass for over 2,000 years, to make baubles and then involved a group of talented Christian ladies who could paint these decorations from their homes in Bethlehem. They are very appreciative of being able to work while they are minding the children.

Finally, the baubles are shipped out via Israel – it was important to me all three faiths were involved and we could demonstrate that cooperation between them all could work to create a business that would provide a living wage for years to come. Now we sell over 4,000 boxes a year and we’re aiming for America next. We support about 38 families at the moment – with your help we could make it 100.

What is the biggest issue everyone should know about at the moment? 

There are so many but the eyes of the world have moved away from Palestine in recent years to focus on Syria, Covid and now Ukraine. Life has become progressively worse in Palestine and we need to keep their big issue relevant. Every Christmas we can remember them with a little bauble and every year we change the designs and date the ribbons so a collection can be built up to remember special years.

We have many wonderful and loyal customers who return every year for our new designs. All their emails make us realise how much they cherish the idea that their Christmas tree actually benefits others and isn’t just pointless bling. What is Christmas for if it isn’t about being collective and supportive of others.

What is one thing anyone can do to make a positive difference?

For Palestine, please buy a bauble – or loads of them! We provide a living wage for them that makes such a difference. This year we are also supporting the Bethlehem Fair Trade Artisans Christmas party – bringing together all those working on the project to celebrate.

To find Bethlehem Baubles on the Big Issue Shop, click here.And to find more ethical products on the Big Issue shop, click here.

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