The sun is burning brightly in the sky and that can only mean one thing – the festive season is upon us once again. But is your holiday time really spent enjoying shared memories and experiences with those closest to you, or is it spent weaving in and out of crowds at the mall?
The gift of giving is an exciting part of the holiday season. So this year, let’s try to make a positive difference with our actions. Let’s give each other gifts that stand with our values, intended to make the world a better place, or help those in need.
You might not know it, but many popular gifts can include toys and clothing made by workers in poor working conditions, and incredible amounts of wasted paper, cards, and boxes.
Of course if you have the time, are crafty in the kitchen, and you really want to impress, you can make your own gingerbread cookies, sweets, jams, or chutneys; you could try these edible gift ideas. But we know this is a busy time of year, so we’ve put the hard yards in to make you a guide with some ethical gift ideas, including some truly meaningful charity gifts.
To make it really easy for you, we’ll start off this guide with some tangible gift ideas, then we’ll suggest some websites where you can have a further look for some fun ethical presents. We reckon something in here for every friend or family member, so you can be generous – and good while you’re at it too!
Ethical gift ideas
Eco paper pot maker
Available from Quality Products for $35.50
What if you could make biodegradable pots? You can! Get an eco paper pot maker kit for yourself or as a gift for someone else. You can find kits that have up to 3 different moulds of different sizes.
All you need to create these reusable and sustainable seedling pots is your old newspaper. And from there, you’ll be helping the environment by planting more greenery!
PowerPLUS shower timer
Available for $19.95 from Going Green Solutions
Know someone in the family who takes just a little too long in the shower? Get an energy efficient and eco-friendly shower timer with an audio alarm that will indicate when you should stop showering. All you need to do is set how long you’d like your shower to last. It’s a good way to encourage someone to be more conscious about wasting water, and can educate everyone in the family!
Available for $105 from Etiko
Finally, a pair of stylish sneakers that you can feel confident were not manufactured in poor working conditions. These shoes are organic, fair trade, and vegan, and take their inspiration from the Converse sneakers range, meaning they won’t look out of place in many a wardrobe; whether it belong to male, female, adult, or child.
Available from $24.95 from Malc&Andi
It’s the silly season, and the hot one too. If you know anyone who’s a water baby and loves spending summer by the sea, why not surprise them with a pair of organic thongs this year? Malc&Andi thongs are made with 90% natural rubber and 5% natural powder, pigments, and oil content, making them both organic and biodegradable. Best of all, with each purchase 5% is donated to animal charity. In a way, it’s two gifts in one.
Ancient beauty bud vase
Available for $34 from Amazon
Handmade in the West Bank from recycled bottles, this beautiful vase displays the artisan skill of Phoenician glass blowing. With swirling blues, purples, and blacks, this vase has a lot of character to add to any space. And its visual appeal coupled with its history, culture, and support for West Bank artisans makes this a wonderful gift.
Available from $10 from the Ethical Gift online store
These bracelets are produced by artisans from Paper Craft Uganda. Paper Craft was set up to provide a sustainable income for a group of socially disadvantaged women from Uganda. The bracelets are handmade from beads which are made by melting down old bottles and broken window panes.
Available for $55 from the Ethical Gift online store
A wallet is one of those great gifts that you could give to just about anybody and they’ll appreciate it. This upcycled wallet is strong and durable, with lots of pockets, zips, and slots for your cards and cash. The inner tube material of the wallet is water-resistant and the wallet itself is lined in a tough green fabric, making it handy for all those summertime trips and bushwalks.
Available from $42.50 at Growing Gifts
This year, why not give a gift that keeps on giving? The folks over at Growing Gifts have a whole host of gifts – and other awesome non-festive gift ideas – that are sure to put a smile on the face of pretty much everyone. Choose from simple gifts such as a Gardenia Planter to more complex sets like the Bonsai Zen Gourmet Gift, which comes with a jar of spicy tomato chutney, some chilli relish and a ceramic star to hang on the tree.
Solar LED lamp & phone charger
Available for $39.95 from Amazon
This solar and USB equipped table lamp is perfect for saving electricity, requiring just the power of the sun to operate. After three to four hours in the sun, the lamp is fully charged and ready to charge your phone or light up your room, with three levels of intensity to suit any need.
Bee and bug biome
Available from $38 from Amazon
Yes, it’s a bug house! This mini habitat acts as a hotel or permanent home for all the beneficial insects you want a garden to have, such as bees, butterflies, and ladybugs. These types of insects are pollinators, and they also help to keep other bad insects like cabbage moths and aphids away. Getting a present that supports wildlife is never a bad idea, and this one is a little fun, too!
Saltwater powered monster car
Available for $27.95 from Mad About Science
Did you know that it’s possible to power toys by something other than electricity and batteries? This saltwater powered car is the perfect toy for educating kids about the environment, and alternatives to electricity and battery power. All it needs to get going is a bit of salty water!
Bokashi composting bucket
Available for $98 from the Bokashi
When you out your food waste into landfill, it creates methane gas, which is a greenhouse gas that can be 12 times more potent than carbon dioxide! The Bokashi bucket is the best way to put your own food waste to proper use by improving your garden’s soil, and the liquid can also be used to keep drainpipes clean. This compost bucket has the Bokashi microorganism, which composts effectively while eliminating any odours associated with the process. As long as you don’t include any liquids or meat bones, you can compost almost every type of food waste on the bucket, from fruit and veggies to meat, fish, dairy, and coffee and tea.
Available for $122 from Happy Cow
Backpacks are always a useful gift, and if they’re made of natural materials then they’re even better! Hemp fibres are strong and flexible, making a hemp backpack perfect for everyday use, or as a sustainably-grown alternative to a leather briefcase.
Available for $49 from Ethics.org.au
This is a great gift for those based in Sydney. Coordinated by The Ethics Centre of Australia, these IQ2 debates cover topics such as transgender sexuality, animal welfare, and privacy in the age of social media. These kinds of discussions are vital in our evolving world. Get a whole 2019 subscription and watch as your loved one grows a more open mind, a stronger opinion, and a stronger will to get out there and make a change!
If none of these gifts really hit the spot for you, why not check out some of these sites where you can grab some more ethical gifts ideas?
Ethical gift stores
Green Gifts Australia
This is an online store created with the purpose of transforming our society and economy to one that is more conscious and sustainable, all in the name of minimising environmental damage.
On this site you’ll find eco-friendly, ethical, organic, sustainable, and fair trade products. It’s perfect for gift browsing, and there is even a wrapping service with eco-friendly paper. The site delivers within Australia as well as overseas.
New Internationalist Shop
The New Internationalist workers’ non-profit cooperative promotes debate and campaigns for a more just society, reporting the issue of inequality, human rights, and worldwide poverty.
Throughout their online shop you’ll find a variety of ethical gifts and fair trade products, such as fair trade chocolate or tea, non-lycra T-shirts and gift vouchers, as well as gifts especially designed for kids and teenagers.
Oxfam Shop is a non-profit organisation owned by Oxfam Australia. They’re committed to fair trade principles and advocate for more ethical workplaces, equal employment opportunities, education, and for the environment.
From home decor, kitchen gadgets, and kid’s toys, to fashion, books, and wrapping paper, all the products sold on site and in stores are sourced directly from the individual workers, craft bodies, or fair trade organisations in developing countries. Oxfam purchases these goods at a fair price and sells them here in Australia to help disadvantaged communities get a better life.
$98 from Oxfam
With less than $100 you can buy a woman in Rwanda three piglets, which can help her earn a living and escape poverty. These types of gifts makes a huge difference for these farmers, as livestock and vegetables to them means income, food, and a better future for their families and communities.
$100 from Karma Currency
Some people with disabilities that prevent them from walking don’t have quick and easy access to a wheelchair. With $100 you can help make sure that people in the Pacific Region who need a wheelchair have one tailored to their needs and environment.
Counselling for bereaved families
$85 from Karma Currency
The Red Nose grief and loss services support families who have experienced the sudden and unexpected death of a baby or child. These programs are carefully designed for people who are in their darkest days, and they really do help.
Want to do more?
If you feel like you’d like to do more, or need more inspiration, check out the following websites.
- Sendle – Send your gifts emission-free this year. Sendle is Australia’s first carbon neutral delivery service, so you can trust that even the transportation of your gifts will be more ethical.
- SoKind – If you yourself would like to receive an ethical gift, SoKind offers an alternative, customised gift registry that can ensure you get what you’re after.
- Do Something – This year, give yourself the gift of your supporting an ethical cause and charity.
- Unicef Give a Gift – Some more charity gift ideas.
- Oxfam Unwrapped – And even more charity gift ideas!
- Karma Currency Foundation – Different charitable gifts that involve different programs and foundations.
- Pro Bono Australia – Includes a list of worthwhile ethical causes to support, such as charities and foundations.