50 Great Gifts That Give Back!
Make Change Staff
‘Tis the season for giving—both to your loved ones and to your favorite causes. But what if you could do both, via gifts that donate a portion (or all) of the proceeds to charity or are produced in ways that support the change you want to see in the world? For this year’s gift guide, we’ve rounded up 50 such items from cancer-busting beanies to tree-hugging toys to self-care subscription boxes.
CLOTHES AND ACCESSORIES
Sure, climate change seems to be causing crazier weather and increased flooding, but hey, at least your giftee can look good dealing with it. These eco-friendly and vegan rain boots are made from natural rubber with quick dry knitted cotton lining in a ton of styles and colors. And since Roma is dedicated to “giving poverty the boot,” for every pair sold, the company will donate a pair to a child in need.
Because no one should have to wear actual pants when they can wear soft, flowy, lounge pants—we give you Punjammies. These super casual daytime jammies come in a variety of prints from muted grey to bold floral. And each pair sold invests in skills training and job creation for women in India fighting to stay free of sex slavery.
Mata Traders is working to empower women artisans and fight gender inequality in India and Nepal. Artisans in partner co-ops get fair wages, health care, maternity leave, and a network of support. You get affordable, handmade jewelry and clothing to gift everyone on your list that needs glitz and glam without the guilt—like this statement cuff bracelet. Not into bling? The women at Mata Traders create a range of accessories, skirts, tops, and dresses all fabricated with traditional techniques.
Gifting socks for the holidays may seem like a joke, but the fact remains: running out of socks is the worst. Be the hero that helps someone never run out of socks, or clean drinking water, or food, again. Every collection includes three pairs of organic cotton socks in cool patterns made by fairly paid workers. And for every pair purchased, a portion of the proceeds are donated to important charities fighting to end things like hunger or poor drinking water systems.
Not only is this beanie cozy and stylish, 50 percent of profits go to helping fight childhood cancer. The knit hats come in a wide variety of colors and styles, so you can find one for just about anyone.
These polarized sunglasses are made with 95 percent recycled materials, look great, and come in reusable packaging. Oh, and for every frame sold, a tree is planted through their ONE FRAME—ONE TREE partnership with the NGO Trees for the Future.
Vegan clothing brand Svala is making sustainable sexy with a lingerie line made from excess waste cuttings—in particularly, excess lace—that are normally thrown away during clothing manufacturing to create a product that’s simple, soft, and sensual. The woman in your life will love the Svala gift box—which includes three Vivien lace thongs in floral pink, ivory, and beige floral.
Water bottles get a new life as the primary material for this ergonomic backpack from EcoGear. Available in pink or grey, its unique shape evokes planet Earth and is perfect for eco-conscious commuters.
California-based BackBeatRags works with small, family-owned businesses in L.A. to produce laidback items hip enough to attract supermodels and glossy mags. Founder Isadora Alvarez is also committed to using sustainable materials, like organic cotton and pesticide-free hemp, which consumes less water and land than cotton while producing more durable fibers that get softer as they’re washed.
These cheeky briefs are created by actress Gina Rodriguez’s lingerie company Naja. The eco-friendly undies are made from recycled plastic and digitally printed, which cuts out waste water created by fabric dye. Many of Naja’s products are made in a family-friendly work environment by single mothers, the true wonder women of our world.
J Topolski’s Etsy store contains a menagerie of natural-world curiosities, like this silver whale-skeleton necklace, whole insects set in resin, and pendants shaped like fruit bats and sloths. Each purchase from the NYC-based jeweler supports a conservation or animal welfare cause related to the creature depicted—so for example, buying this x-ray sperm whale will direct $5 to environmental nonprofit Ocean Conservancy.
Founded in 2010, fashion company Arm the Animals raises money for wildlife and animal welfare organizations through the sale of its printed tees and sweatshirts. This particular design, featuring a sweet young furball with an appetite for destruction, is part of the company’s Cats of War collection.
If you like the idea of shoes made of pineapples, but see the obvious drawbacks of hollowing out fresh fruit and wearing it on your feet all day, you’ll love these all-black sneakers made with vegan, pineapple-based “leather.” Growing in popularity over the last few years, Piñatex is a textile made from upcycled fruit-industry waste. Pineapple leaves are processed into a sturdy, leather-like material, which doesn’t require animal products, and is more environmentally friendly than both real leather and many of its popular plastic alternatives. This pair of understated unisex kicks from U.K. retailer Vegetarian Shoes, made from Piñatex and imitation suede, cost about $100, but American shoppers will have to shell out another $15 and change in shipping costs—not cheap, but still competitive with many new name-brand sneakers.
Not just a great response when someone asks you what you’ve done that day, these silver or gold necklaces feature a hint of rose quartz and a lot of heart. With each sale, Blooming Lotus Jewelry will donate $12 to the Aleksander Fund, which provides scholarships for women who have experienced loss to attend one of writer and yoga instructor Jennifer Pastiloff’s highly regarded healing retreats.
It’s hard to hate on a fanny pack as bright and cheerful as one of Cotopaxi’s. Part of the brand’s “del Día” line, its shell is made from repurposed nylon and crafted by “an employee who has total control of the colorway,” meaning that no two packs are alike. Plus, Cotopaxi is a certified B corporation that funds sustainable poverty alleviation.
There’s subscription boxes for everything now, but the U.K.-based BuddyBox, themed around self-care, really is different. Designed to be gifted to friends and family suffering from depression, BuddyBox is also great for anyone who has stress or could benefit from some me time (so, really, everyone you know). This “hug in a box” is gender neutral, ageless, and comes packed with three to five products ranging from unisex scented bath bombs to calming DIY projects. Boxes are sold individually and as a monthly subscription.
Not sure what to get someone? Need a last-minute gift? Humble Bundle to the rescue! With Humble Bundle you can pay what you want for a wide range of digital wares like video games, graphic novels, fantastic journalism, and even self-help books. The best part? You can choose how much of your purchase goes to charity (anywhere from 0 to 100 percent), how much should go toward creators or producers of the items inside your bundle, and what to include as a tip to the Humble Bundle team.
There’s a common misconception that dogs like to attack mailmen, but the truth is, they’re just really into getting mail. Watch your pup’s eyes light up with the arrival of this monthly “box of goodies for dogs and their humans.” Each BarkBox package contains a theme-coordinated collection of toys and treats; 10 percent of the company’s profits are donated to animal shelters.
Pley lets you choose from more than 500 educational toys from top manufacturers, so your child will receive a “new” toy every month. And when your little darling forgets all about the latest, greatest toy, just send it back.
HOME, OFFICE, and GARDEN
Want to wrap your loved ones up in something handmade this year? These gorgeous quilts represent Haiti’s history and culture in their vibrant designs and are crafted by Haitian artisans. PeaceQuilt is a nonprofit supporting Haitian women by providing safe workspaces to design and create, business skills training, and marketing support. Not in to heavy bedding? The designers create everything from fabric bead jewelry to potholders.
This organic cotton blanket is handcrafted by women in India for fair wages, and soft and warm on little kids’ sensitive skin. Each blanket is stitched with animal and explorer themes and can be folded into itself to make a cute pillow for tuckered out adventurers.
Nomadix’s tagline, “Own less. Do more” is apparent with this go-anywhere printed towel. It’s the perfect size for your yoga mat, but can also be used at the pool, beach, or while traveling. The towel is anti-microbial, quick-drying, lightweight, and made with recycled plastic bottles—which means it’s keeping waste from the landfill while you live your healthiest life.
This DIY herb growing kit uses simple hydroponics and recycled wine bottles to grow fresh herbs indoors year-round. After a growing cycle, simply wash it out and begin again with a new (or the same) herb or spice. Grow bottles like these help you reduce your environmental impact by keeping glass out of landfills.
For your the stylish survivalist in your life, consider Best Made’s slim and sexy Hudson Bay axe (great for camping!), which tops an Appalachian hickory handle with a 2-pound, drop-forged steel blade. If you choose the mauve “Fortitude” style, all proceeds are donated to the It Gets Better Project, dedicated to positively impacting the lives of LGBTQ youth.
This super-eclectic record collection is titled 7 Inches for Planned Parenthood, and features nearly 40 musicians, comedians, activists, and authors. How eclectic? Well, contributors include Bjork, John Legend, Zach Galifianackis, Mary J. Blige, and Foo Fighters among others. The set’s booklet is illustrated with original artwork by Shepard Fairey, Jacqui Oakley, and Angela Pilgrim. Fifty percent of gross sales will benefit Planned Parenthood. If your giftee can’t spin records, not to worry, there’s a digital download available for every major music streaming service.
At first, a wind-up toothbrush might sound a bit twee, like, say, hand-churning your own butter. But this sleek, battery-free mechanical brush is anything but old-fashioned, featuring activated charcoal bristles, 100 percent recyclable or biodegradable materials, and a “smart sensor” designed to keep users from over-brushing. By cutting out batteries—which can contain harmful chemicals and often end up in landfills—the product promises to be more sustainable than electric toothbrushes, and convenient for travelers, who may not always have access to new batteries or an outlet. Supporting the project’s Kickstarter page now can get a holiday giftee first crack at the Be. when it ships in 2018.
The reasonably priced SnoozePal Cat Hammock combines cats’ natural love of boxes with their natural love of being lazy as hell. Your kitty can cool out in the fleece-lined hammock and survey his or her domain from the cozy shelter of the SnoozePal’s sturdy cardboard frame. A portion of the proceeds will go to a no-kill animal rescue organization of your choosing.
Every one of these mod reclaimed wood desk speakers comes with a story. For instance, the pictured speaker was made with redwood that used to fence in a rambunctious bulldog named Ralph in the 1970s. Each hi-fidelity speaker comes with built-in Bluetooth and an auxiliary cable, but if it doesn’t live up to your expectations, Salvage Audio offers a two-month “common sense” guarantee. One word of advice: get your orders in ASAP for holiday gifts; these handcrafted beauties are made to order.
This handblown light sculpture is certainly a bright idea. The LED lightbulb will last up to 10,000 hours and the cord-free design makes it easy to find a place for the nifty double-walled glass lamp.
Designed to last a lifetime, these non-toxic yoga mats are created from non-Amazon tree rubber via a zero-waste manufacturing process.
Fun is like adult- and kid-friendly playdough for the bath. It’s squishy, it’s moldable, and it comes in a variety of scents and colors so you can shape it into anything you want—a dinosaur, a reindeer, a Donald Trump wig. Once you’re done, the multipurpose bar works as a soap, shampoo, bubble bath, and—pro tip—shaving cream. Each bar is made from ethically sourced, planet-friendly ingredients, and sold in minimal packaging. A portion of the proceeds from Fun goes toward building safe outdoor spaces for children in Fukushima, Japan.
This sustainable, non-toxic, and organic sunscreen protects your skin from the environment while feeding it rich antioxidants. Perfect for the outdoorsy, nature-lover in your life, or for the friend with really sensitive skin.
Years into Flint, Michigan’s water crisis, many residents still lack access to clean running water and the region is still reckoning with the specter of long-term health problems that follow exposure to lead. The United Way of Genesee County Flint Clean Water Fund purchases bottled water, filters, and other essential services for Flint residents, directing 100 percent of donations directly to this mission, with no administrative overhead. This year, you can support that work with this enamel accessory from Etsy store Pin It Forward. Portraying a raised fist emblazoned with a single drop of water, it could make a meaningful addition to your holiday gift list.
These nested silicone discs are much easier on the eyes than the plastic baggies and clingwrap most home chefs use to preserve fruit and veg remnants until the next meal prep. They also create a tight seal around food, cans, and jars, are dishwasher- and microwave-safe, and help reduce both food and plastic waste. We favor women-founded, small-business supporting online retailer the Grommet, but you can now find these wares at other outlets like Amazon and Wal-Mart as well.
This self-preserving lotion is free from scary sounding ingredients and sourced via Lush’s Sustainable Lush Fund—a project that supports regenerative agriculture methods. For every Charity Pot bought, 100 percent of the price goes toward supporting humanitarian, environmental, and animal rights causes. To date, Charity Pot purchases have donated $18,000,000 to more than 1400 grassroots charities in 42 countries.
Get your loved ones a truly crappy present this holiday season by donating manure in their names. Giving just $12 to Oxfam will provide organic manure fertilizer to a farmer in need, as part of the organization’s mission to alleviate poverty, hunger, and inequality around the world. When you donate on behalf of friends, they get the satisfaction of helping someone grow food and a cheeky card from Oxfam—a memorable gift that will have them thinking of you every time they smell manure.
Muscular, energetic pit bulls are often maligned as aggressive dogs, but raised with love, these pooches can be some of the sweetest, mushiest woofers in the canine game. As Etsy user HippoAndHound, who makes this grinning pit bull enamel pin, wrote, “Anyone who knows this breed recognizes that classically adorable ‘pittie smile.’ Add a pink bow and it's cuteness overload!” All proceeds from sales of these pins will be donated to New York rescue group Shelter Chic, which finds foster care or forever homes for strays, with a focus on pit bulls and elderly animals.
Support “America’s best idea” and give the gift of adventure with this year-long pass that covers entrance and day-use fees at national parks, national forests, and wildlife refuges. Nearly 100 percent of the proceeds from annual pass sales are funneled back into improving and enhancing federal recreation sites.
These necklaces were created to raise awareness about child soldiers in the Congo, who are forced onto the front lines where they blow whistles in an attempt to scare their enemies… and take the first round of bullets. This brass whistle features tarnished copper coating and acts as a reminder to do good whenever you can.
Krochet Kids is dedicated to breaking the poverty cycle by providing safe and fair workspaces for economically vulnerable women in countries like Uganda and Peru. Every item sold—including this adorable fox and all it’s equally adorable woodland buddies—is handmade by one of these women, who signs her work and shares her story in an online profile.
Gel pens are back (did they ever really leave?), and these 24 colors will take school notes to the next level. Glitter, neon, and metallic gel colors come in a reusable case to keep everything organized and easy to find. And for every one sold, Yoobi will donate an item to a U.S. classroom in need.
The kids in your life will love this sleek skateboard. Plus, it’s made from recycled marine debris and vegetable oil, with all proceeds benefiting Bureo's Net Positive Initiative, which supports recycling programs and education in Chilean fishing communities.
Soccer brings the world together, and this One World Futbol will keep the play going. The ball is designed to never pop or compress—it comes inflated and stays inflated, no pump necessary. And for every ball purchased, support is given to a play project designed for disadvantaged youth in communities around the world.
While this unique racetrack is safe for kids 18 months and up, even adults marvel at the elegant little cars zipping down the brightly colored switchbacks. Hape makes non-toxic toys from sustainable materials with a mission to ensure its production, packaging, and shipping techniques are as environmentally responsible as possible.
Two young North Carolina brothers were so inspired by the movie Brave they began trying to make their own (safe!) bows and arrows to play with outside. With help from their mom, Two Bros Bows started selling cushion-tipped arrows and bows covered with cute designs for boys or girls. Safe enough for a six-year-old—but with a 30-foot range, cool enough for bigger kids.
There’s not much to celebrate about climate change, but, if you do end up with warmer winter weather, make the best of it with a butterfly habitat kit, which is best shipped to areas with temps above 40 and below 85 degrees. You’ll receive live caterpillars that (hopefully) turn into beautiful Painted Lady butterflies in a pop-up habitat, providing the littles with a fun window into the lifecycle of this important pollinator.
Under the Nile’s merchandise is made from organic cotton produced at an Egyptian biodynamic farm where, according to the company, workers have access to “on-site healthcare, daycare and school for their children, as well as daily organic meals that are made from food grown right there on the farm.” The company’s certification from Global Organic Textile Standard means it adheres to high environmental benchmarks when it comes to production, waste generation, and energy usage. For $42, this plush basket of fruit friends is perfect for toddlers or young kids learning to love fresh food.
FOOD AND DRINK
For the peanut butter lover in your life, give the gift that gives back. With every yummy jar of Good Spread sold (salted honey, chocolate pretzel, honey banana, and unsweetened probiotic), a high-calorie, therapeutic peanut butter called MANA is given to a malnourished child. The best part? Each container of Good Spread comes with a unique tracking code, so giftees can see the impact made with every jar.
Outshine the other booze at your holiday party with this super-sparkly bottle of Sparkling Brut Wine from Napa Valley vintner One Hope. The relatively affordable bubbly “displays aromas of fresh green apple and nectarine with a hint of fresh baked bread” according to the winery, whose sales support a wide slate of important causes. Not only will this glittery wine light up the room, but every bottle purchased buys 15 meals for a child in need.
Do you like weird candy? Are you the type of person who’s always psyched to test out Jelly Belly’s most offbeat flavors, or try the novelty Oreos Nabisco spews out onto supermarket shelves with alarming frequency? If so, you’ll love Project 7’s gum and gummy candy, which come in flavors like birthday cake, rainbow ice, and Girl Scouts Thin Mints. But beyond the roster of unique taste sensations, these treats also raise money for humanitarian aid organizations, supporting causes that range from anti-bullying campaigns, to clean water projects, to housing the homeless.