Naughty or nice? That isn’t just a dilemma for Jolly Ol’ St. Nick — it also applies to the philanthropically-minded shopper on the hunt for gifts that keep on giving.
“Last year, Americans spent over $1 trillion during the holiday season. And sixty percent of all online sales during Cyber weekend went to just 10 giant retailers—none of which have a social mission,” says Cullen Schwarz, cofounder of DoneGood, an online utility that vets retailers based on altruistic measures. “If even a small fraction of that money can be shifted to brands that are reducing poverty, fighting climate change, and otherwise making the world better, the impact is enormous!”
With some help from DoneGood and other experts, we put together a list of presents for the loved ones in your life that can truly make a difference. No guilty purchases here. Spread as much joy as you can this holiday season, and let Giving Compass be your guide.
Hoagy checked men’s dress shirt, $195, Tuckerman & Co
This sharp-looking shirt is made by a Certified B Corporation, which works with suppliers who support fair labor practices. Tuckerman & Co say the shirt’s material (organic cotton from Israel) prevents a pound of pesticides from being used compared to conventional cotton.
Durable travel duffel, $290, Looptworks
Keep those landfills empty! The average clothing and apparel factory throws out 60,000 pounds of pre-consumer textiles every single week. This company wants to be part of the solution, using upcycled material (this bag was made from the leather of old Southwest Airlines seats) for sustainable products with lifetime guarantees.
Argyle dress socks, $15, Conscious Step
Each pair of Conscious Step water-themed socks sold provides 18 months of safe water for one person in the developing world, thanks to a partnership with Water.org. And who doesn’t love argyle?
Golden Boy kimono, $78, Highway Robery
An Austin-based company handcrafts each robe at a shop in Los Angeles; the small batches are made by craftsman paid a good living wage in excellent working conditions. So relax, sit back, and enjoy the feel of environmentally-friendly cotton-flannel.
Sporty pullover hoodie, $75, Pistol Lake
Made from recycled fabrics (including old bottles and Eucalyptus pulp grown on PEFC-certified, sustainably run farms), these functional and stylish hoodies were made by founders who believe in ethical manufacturing, creating well-paying jobs at their L.A. factory.
Wool tassel slippers, $55, TOMS
One pair of TOMS shoes are donated to a child in need for each pair purchased through the company’s giving partners (including Africare, Children International and Goods for Good). So far, 75 million pairs of shoes have been distributed through this effort. How’s that for comfort?
Chic black tote, $295, Feed Projects
This handy tote made from vegetable-tanned leather is handmade by artisans in Kenya. Not only does each purchase support the talented makers, but the money also provides 185 school meals to Kenyan children. Partners include United Nation World Food Programme, UNICEF and Feeding America.
All-weather puffy jacket, $178, Save the Duck
This will give you warm, fuzzy feelings: Save the Duck’s products are 100 percent animal free, without feathers, leather, hide or fur (this jacket is made of a special water-and-wind-resistant nylon). The company was honored by PETA Deutschland with a Vegan Fashion Award, and continues to make an “animal cruelty-free world” its ultimate mission.
Compass chain necklace, $115, The Brave Collection
We swear we’re not biased because of the name! This elegant necklace (available in gold vermeil or sterling silver) goes with everything and was handmade in Cambodia by a fair trade local artisan to empower women all over the world. Proceeds benefit the fight to end human trafficking.
Stylish embroidered scarf, $52, Slate & Salt
This particular one-of-a-kind scarf — made of a lightweight cotton — was made in India through fair trade sources. It’s all about economic independence and dignified working opportunities for craftswomen in impoverished countries.
Handmade jewelry, prices vary, GlassRoots
What’s more precious than art? Encouraging youth. This necklace is an example of the unique gifts available at GlassRoots, a Newark, NJ-based nonprofit workshop which helps at-risk adolescents and teens find confidence in creation through glassmaking. And each dollar spent on these handcrafted products helps the organization achieve its mission.
Box of fashion goodies, $58-98, Kidbox
Curated apparel for kids ages 2-14 (or babies, 0-24 months) are handpicked by stylists to match your child’s preference. And for every full Kidbox purchased, a new clothing item will be given to a child in need through a charity of your choice (via a partnership with Delivering Good). Consider this: Of the more than 46 million Americans living in poverty, 16.4 million are between 2 and 12 years old.
Adorable knit beanie, $40, Love Your Melon
Not only will your kid feel cozy in one of these beanies, but you’ll also love this: Love Your Melon has given away more than 120,000 hats to children battling cancer, and 50 percent of the profits (calculated after taxes and fees) go to nonprofits working in the field of pediatric oncology (including Cure Search and St. Jude’s).
Yoga “bug party” leggings, $39.50, Sat Nam Babe
How adorable are these lightweight, stretch pants for kids and babies? Great for bedtime, zen time or just play time. The company — which partners with the North Carolina-based REPREVE® — uses recycled plastic bottles to make its goods. (Photo: Kaylynn Young)
Lovable crocheted animal, $35, Krochet Kids
Finely crafted in Uganda, these toys are hand-signed by the women who made them — and each artisan has a profile on the Krochet Kids site. There’s a clear commitment to having an impact among fair trade workers. The retailer’s primary partner is Capable, a group dedicated to providing education, mentorship and financial services for people living in poverty.
Colorful beeswax crayons, $14, Mini Mioche
It’s never too early to teach impact as art! This Canadian company uses only recyclable material for all their products, including these all-natural, non-toxic beeswax crayons that come in an environmentally-friendly reusable case.
Octopus Baby Lovie, $34, Haiti Babi
Adorable. Lovable. Sustainable. Each one of these crocheted comfort blankets was made by an artisan mom in Haiti, who earned twice the minimum wage for her work. In a country where one in ten kids live in orphanages because many parents can’t afford to take care of them, that money is crucial in keeping families together. In fact, every Haiti Babi job creates six additional employment opportunities. That should help everyone sleep more soundly.
Hardcover photo book, $69, Artifact Uprising
Memories can last a lifetime, especially if they’re captured in one of these tasteful albums, which uses 100 percent recycled fibers for the interior pages and editorial cover designs. Picture perfect.
Handmade animal ornaments, $15, Heifer International
This organization’s mission is to empower women around the world and help small businesses. These animal ornaments were hand-stitched by members of a self-help group in Agra, India — they receive a living wage, along with access to clean water, medical insurance and a savings plan.
Solar stove, $175, SolSource
One Earth Designs, a nonprofit that got its start by providing solar stoves to rural nomads and farmers in the Himalayas, wants to find more efficient ways to meet all our future energy needs. This handy portable cooking device heats up food five times faster than coal simply by harnessing the power of the sun. Backyard BBQs will never be the same again.
Goat for a good cause, $50, Oxfam
No, you will not be physically mailing an animal to a loved one! This is simply a way to support Oxfam’s goat distribution program in developing countries. Faduma Jatani, a 30 year-old widow and mother of five in Ethiopia, explained the impact from such a sustainable gift: “I can get milk for my children. And after the goats reproduce, I can sell them and buy other household items.”
Volunteer trips, prices vary, Animal Experience International
Want to plan a family vacation to a bat conservation in Australia? Or how about an elephant rescue mission in Thailand? While some of the trips will run into the thousands cost-wise, the adventure in service of a worthwhile cause will be priceless.
Charity scratch-and-win tickets, $40, LottoLove
Feelin’ lucky? Well, with these “scratch-off” tickets, everyone’s a winner. Once you buy a card, a donation is made to one of LottoLove’s nonprofit partners: WaterIsLife, LitWorld, Rise Against Hunger and Solar Aid (each scratch match will align with the mission for those organizations). Flip the card to learn more about the donation. Every penny counts!
Bright felt bowls, $45, MIO Culture
Colorful and handy, these Wobowl SoftBowls (designed by MIO) are made out of 100 percent molded wool by one of the last millineries in the United States. Sustainable materials; ethical design; useful all year round.
Relaxing votivo candle, $30, charity: water
charity: water has funded more than 24,000 clean water projects for 7 million people around the world, with help from partners such as Nepal Water for Health, Clear Cambodia and Splash. One-hundred percent of the profits from the candle (with a scent inspired by clean water) goes to the support staff and operating costs of the organization.
Fair trade coffee, $13, Ethical Bean Coffee
Ethical Bean Coffee takes environmental protections as seriously as a good cup of Joe. The Certified B Corporation supports fair trade organizations, has a head office built to LEED standards, measures its carbon footprint through Climate Smart and uses roasters that cut emissions and energy consumption by 80 percent. How’s that for a pick-me-up?
Soothing bath soak, $28, Remy and Rose
You may feel relaxed just looking at these bath salts. They are handcrafted from an independent, female-owned business in Colorado that uses fair trade, organic shea butter to make its soap (no nitro musk or phthalates). Online retailer 48 and Sea is dedicated to supporting women-focused enterprises, so be sure to shop around for some other apothecary inspirations.
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