This yuletide season and in the coming year, use the power of your wallet to consciously create the world we want to live in. With sustainability as ‘top of mind’, let’s make this year’s festivities friendlier to our one shared home with World Wildlife Fund’s TOP TIPS FOR A SUSTAINABLE CHRISTMAS.
Delight loved ones with a precious hand-made gift or choose a thoughtful gift that gives back from these 16 gift ideas that support the UN Sustainable Development Goals and discover inspiring founders, creators and organisations that are genuinely making a difference to people and the planet.
1. SEP JORDAN – A gift that brings back dignity and pride
SEP Jordan’s founder Roberta Ventura is a strong believer and advocate of refugees’ right to employment, education and empowerment – the key instruments to reach confidence, determination and self-sufficiency. Blending Italian style with the finest Middle-Eastern craftsmanship that represent the artist’s roots and heritage, the SEP Jordan collection aims to bring back dignity, economic independence and pride to refugee camps in Jordan, and change perception of refugees, one stitch at a time.
Each exquisite piece in SEP Jordan’s collection is hand-embroidered with care and signed by the artist who created it using top quality materials without harmful chemicals and respect the environment and human beings. Raw materials are imported from Italy to Jordan’s Jerash “Gaza” refugee camp where over 500 embroidery women artists reside and craft the artisanal needle-art work. They are paid weekly at 50% more than market rates for each creation they produce, allowing them to earn a living & provide for their families and community. Purchase from SEP Jordan HERE.
2. CUDDLE+KIND – A gift to help children thrive
Jen, Derek, Ethan, Brooke and Rachel Woodgate are a family of five on a mission to help feed children in need. They started Cuddle+Kind after watching a heartbreaking documentary about childhood hunger and learned that 66 million primary school-aged children attend classes hungry every day and 45%of deaths in children under five are caused by poor nutrition. Giving meals helps children fight disease, develop cognitively, receive an education, perform better in school, earn more as an adult, break the cycle of poverty and reach their full potential to thrive.
For every CUDDLE+KIND doll sold, they give 10 meals to children through organizations Children’s Hunger Fund and UN World Food Program which considers hunger “one of the most solvable problems that face the world today”. The dolls are ethically produced and lovingly handcrafted by talented artisans in Peru and Nepal to empower over 1,000 women with fair trade income and help improve communities. They are stylish and oh-so loveable, super soft and cuddly, hand-knit with premium natural cotton, heirloom quality, tested and certified non toxic, meets or exceeds safety standards, and doing good with a signature 10 meal wristband. Shop HERE.
3. HAND-IN-HAND BAR SOAP – A gift towards good health and wellbeing
These three soap brands are more than just charitable, they give back to those without access to clean water and have given many people healthier and cleaner lives. Billions of people lack access to adequate sanitation and safely managed clean water, resulting in gender inequality and millions of avoidable diseases and deaths each year.
LUSH Soaps: Colorful and sweet-smelling, Lush handmade bath bombs and shampoo bars are 100% vegetarian and more than 80% vegan, and sold without packaging. Through their hand and body cream ‘Charity Pot’ and ‘Grassroots Perfume’, Lush donates 100% of all sales as grants to groups working in animal protection, the environment and human rights (incl. social justice, peace & equality). Since 2007, Charity Pot has helped Lush donate more than $33 million to over 2,450 grassroots charities in 42 countries. In 2010, the Sustainable Lush Fund has created over 44 projects in 21 countries. Shop online or at their boutique.
B.A.R.E Soaps: Since 2012, Bringing Antiseptic Resources to Everyone (B.A.R.E.)soaps partner several organisations such as Sundra Fund in Kalwa Slum, India where they provide school children living in the slums with a bar of soap and basic health care and hygiene training. All soaps for people and their furry best friend are handmade and cold process bar soaps, and candles are wrapped in their signature plantable packaging sourced from Botanical Paperworks which is approved for planting in the US, Canada, Europe, New Zealand, Australia and other countries world wide. They minimize their carbon footprint from ingredients, packaging and deliveries; and a % of sales also support sustainable initiatives such as employing women in India to recycle used hotel soaps for distribution in slums & clinics. Shop HERE.
Hand in Hand Soaps: Founders Bill Glaab and Courtney Apple believe that more is more. In addition to their Buy One & Give Back program, they also partner with two incredible organizations – Eco Soap Bank and My Neighbour’s Children – to deepen their impact at the community level by installing and repairing clean water wells, and recycling and distributing leftover hotel soap to help mitigate water-related deaths around the globe.
All Hand in Hand ingredients are 100% vegan and never derived from or tested on animals. The founder’s refusal to use palm oil reflects their commitment to protect rainforest ecosystems and endangered species from deforestation and destruction. When you buy a bar of soap, you also give a bar to children in need. Shop HERE.
4. Stories Gogo Told Me
Lisa Grainger is the adventurous author of Stories Gogo Told Me and she spent several months hiking in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and South Africa to visit villages, towns, farms and deserts, asking locals to tell her their favourite stories. There is a storyteller in almost every village in Africa, who may be a teacher, a farmer or a seamstress by day, and a teller of tales round the fire at night. Surrounded by young children, old friends, neighbours and travellers, a storyteller will narrate how it was when the earth was young, when man was a hunter-gatherer, and when the animals roamed wild throughout the continent.
Children will love this treasury of legends and fables, of witchdoctors and kingdoms of strange creatures and talking animals. Stories Gogo Told Me is a compilation of African myths and legends which celebrates Africa and its ancient storytelling culture. Lisa donates proceeds from book sales to help fund schooling for orphaned girls through the CAMFED charity. CAMFED catalyzes the power of the most vulnerable girls and young women to create the future they imagine: for themselves, for their communities, and for Africa. Shop from Amazon, goodreads.com OR from penguinrandomhouse.co.za
5. KASBAH DE TOUBKAL – A gift to stay can educate a girl
A role model for how sustainable tourism can be a Force for Good, Kasbah du Toubkal is a mountain retreat located in the village of Imlil in the Toubkal National Park, and set dramatically in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco. Found in complete ruin in 1989 by two British brothers – Chris and Mike McHugo – they rebuilt the centuries old castle into a unique retreat that stayed true to the heritage of the destination and Berber culture with their Moroccan partner.
Kasbah du Toubkal’s local Berber team offer an authentic and inclusive local experience and your stay supports local community projects and a charity – Education For All Morocco (EFA). EFA provides girls from rural communities in the High Atlas mountain region with safe, nurturing and well-equipped boarding homes so they can have the opportunity of a secondary and college education. EFA believes that everyone has the right to an education, and that if you educate a girl, you educate the next generation. View and directly book Kasbah du Toubkal HERE.
LEARN Why Educate a Girl?
6. LIFESTRAW – Gift the ultimate survival tool
Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen is known globally as a visionary leader, CEO and owner of Vestergaard and the creator of LifeStraw. His game-changing solutions contribute to improve the health of vulnerable people, especially those in developing countries by fighting diseases including malaria, HIV/AIDS, diarrheal disease and neglected tropical diseases
LifeStraw is a humanitarian company that gives back, supporting the provision of safe water during humanitarian emergencies and natural disasters. Your donation helps them reach more families with safe drinking water and strive to support under-represented communities. For every LifeStraw product purchased, the LifeStraw Give Back Programme provides one school child in a developing country safe drinking water for an entire school year. For every 500 products sold, a LifeStraw Community purifier is distributed to a school in need which provides safe water to 100 school children for a period of five years.
LifeStraw is the ultimate survival tool for outdoor adventure enthusiasts to filter and purify water. It is easy to clean and store with unlimited shelf life, durable and BPA free, and has been tested all over the globe to face the harshest conditions. It protects you against bacteria, parasites, microplastics, dirt, sand and cloudiness in outdoor water, and filters a maximum of 1000 litres of water, enough for one person for one year. Shop direct HERE.
7. Little Sun – Gift the power of the sun
What started as a humble idea to create a small, portable solar lamp for people without electricity in Ethiopia is now a global project that has changed over two million lives through the awesome power of the sun. Designed by Danish artist Olafur Eliasson and engineer Frederik Ottesen, the Little Sun is a work of art that affect change in the everyday lives of people across the globe, providing a way to live independently outside the electrical grid system. Little Sun’s social business brings clean, reliable, affordable energy to the 1.1 billion people in the world living without electricity while raising awareness for energy access and climate action worldwide.
Gift a Little Sun or a Little Sun Solar Charge, and they will deliver one to a person living off-the-grid at a much lower, locally affordable price. On the ground, mainly in Sub-Saharan Africa, they work with local entrepreneurs to create local jobs and to bring the power of the sun to everyone. Shop direct HERE
8. TOMS – A gift for grassroots good
Rooted in earth-friendly materials and processes, TOMS shoes, apparel and accessories are cosy and fun, and also stocks a vegan and a sustainable ‘Earthwise’ collection.
Its founder Blake Mycoskie believed in a future where all people have the chance to thrive and created TOMS (inspired by the word ’tomorrow’) to be in business to improve lives. Today, TOMS is committed to give 1/3 of their profits for grassroots good, supporting people building equity at the local level, and driving progress from the ground up. For every £3 they make, they give £1 away. Shop HERE
9. Genghis Khan Retreat – A gift to stay can preserve a nomadic culture
Located within Mongolia’s Orkhon Valley, a national park in the Övörkhangai Region of Central Mongolia, Genghis Khan Retreat is a Force for Good and beyond-the-expected summer retreat in a vast remoteness with purpose. Owned by the inspiring Giercke Family, it is their purpose to help secure the preservation of the traditional Mongolian nomadic culture and improve the quality of life for their Mongol family and community for a sustainable future.
It was the summer place for Genghis Khan and his army with unspoilt panoramic views of rolling hills, a river snaking into the distance below and granite formations from previous volcanic activity surround this spectacular place. Genghis Khan Retreat offer luxurious comfort in the wilderness in traditional Mongolian style ‘gers’ made from local materials: wood from forests, yak felt insulation from local livestock, horse hair for rope, camel leather to bind; specially crafted beds and furniture, wood-burning stoves and high-quality cashmere blankets. Guests can connect with nature while exploring the steep on horse riding expeditions, kayaking, rock climbing and mountain biking in rugged and breath-taking landscapes with local Nomad guides. View and directly book Genghis Khan Retreat HERE.
10. ZERO WASTE STARTER KIT – A gift for the aspiring zero-waster
Kickstart a zero waste and plastic free journey and a new lifestyle! With the items in this kit, say ’See Ya, Au Revoir and Arrivederci’ to grocery bags, disposable snack bags/ ziplocs, plastic cling wrap, synthetic loofah and sponges, plastic dish brushes, single-use cotton rounds, takeout utensils and more.
The average person produces 4.4 lbs. of trash every day and with pollution and waste on the rise, it is vital to make small steps towards living a more sustainable lifestyle. We can do this by making small, everyday changes in our habits and routines to cut out single-use plastics. Zero Waste MVMT partnered with onetreeplanted.org, and made it their goal to help plant trees with every purchase and promote reforestation globally. Shop HERE
11. FORESTS WITHOUT FRONTIERS – Gift a tree instead of useless stuff
Imagine how many trees could be planted if everyone on the planet gave a tree instead of more useless stuff. Forests Without Frontiers is doing their part to restore nature and aim to plant one million trees by 2025. Founded by Nicoleta Carpineanu, a Romanian artist and environmental activist, a DJ and producer of music and film under the name Nico de Transilvania, she is using music and arts to engage with reforestation and restoring eco-systems.
Gift a tree to everyone you know, love and like. Gifting a tree with Forests Without Frontiers means you are helping to protect existing areas of ancient forest and the people and wildlife they nurture, to restore degraded land and to rebuild essential wildlife corridors and help support ecosystems. Support Forests Without Frontiers HERE
12. GROUNDTRUTH – Gift cutting-edge travel bags that reuse plastic waste
‘People, Planet and Performance’ is at the heart of their philosophy when Georgia, Nina and Sophia Scott founded GROUNDTRUTH to make problem-solving travel bags and expedition equipment that helps the environment and drive positive change in the fashion and manufacturing industry. They work with family-run manufacturers in Jakarta with exemplary attitude towards worker wellbeing and sustainability.
Face-to-face experiences with extreme environments caused by climate change and excessive plastic waste inspired the creation of useful, high-performance bags and accessories that harness cutting-edge technologies with plenty of cool functions for the extreme outdoors and city life. Aspiring and ultimate explorers, and device lovers will love the RIKR technical tote which reuses 80 plastic bottles or the RIKR 24L high-performance backpack which reuses 120 plastic bottles, the expedition gear tested by the legendary polar explorer Robert Swan, the first person in history to walk to the North and South Pole. Shop HERE
13. CONSCIOUS STEP SOCKS – Gifts to wear what they believe in
Conscious Step was founded in 2013 by Prashant Mehta (a finance professional), Hassan Ahmad (a medical doctor) and Adam Long (an industrial designer) who were concerned with the lack of awareness and the gravity of issues faced by their generation. Today, Conscious Step exists to work with those who make great strides with modern day issues, while empowering generations to take conscious steps in their everyday lives, and to learn and educate it’s customers about the values of ethical manufacturing.
Each design corresponds to a different charity – socks with keys help build houses, socks with dogs support the Best Friends Animal Society and socks with waves help to restore oceans. There are socks that beat childhood cancer, conserve rainforests, educate kids, empower women, fight for equality, plant trees, prevent breast cancer, protect endangered animals. provide disaster relief, provide water, provide meals, restore oceans, save lgbtq lives, support mental health, and treat HIV. Great for those who don’t take their footwear too seriously, Conscious Step socks are cozy and ultra-soft, and made of organic, non-gmo, Fairtrade Certified cotton with packaging from recycled materials. Wear what you believe in … each pair of socks sold donates $1 to empower non-profit organisations and support the causes and communities you care about. Shop HERE
14. THE ELEPHANT PROJECT – A gift to save elephants
The Elephant Project founder – Kristina McKean – was devastated to witness baby elephants on the streets of Bangkok being exploited for money, and was outraged at the abusive treatment of elephants in American circuses. After years spent signing petitions, protesting circuses, and creating social media campaigns to help spread awareness surrounding the mistreatment of elephants, Kristina felt propelled to save elephants, one stuffed animal at a time.
100% of net proceeds from your purchase of the cuddly and adorable Kiki (meaning ‘new life’), Tembo (meaning ‘elephant’ in Swahili), and Oba (meaning ‘King Ruler’ in West Africa) will support organisations that help aid in fighting the poaching crisis and also provide care to injured, abandoned, orphaned, and abused elephants – The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya, The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee and the Elephant Nature Park in Thailand. In many cultures, an elephant is seen as a ‘bringer of good luck’. In many African cultures, the elephant is a symbol of royalty, power, wisdom, and success. Shop HERE
15. CONSERVANCY GUARDIANS – Jana Arnhold’s Photography
In 2015, Jana and her partner Nic founded In The Wild, a wildlife adventure travel company offering tailor made adventures to share authentic wilderness experiences, astonishing wildlife encounters and meaningful cultural interactions with people that dream of Africa. In May 2020, they founded Conservancy Guardians when the pandemic devastated tourism and continue to do so with grave ongoing impact on wildlife areas and their surrounding communities. Conservancy Guardians sheds light on the need for a broadening, holistic approach in community support and engagement when it comes to answering the long-term conservation questions in East Africa to nurture the ecosystem, to empower the people and to protect the wildlife.
Jana Arnhold’s photography is a medium through which she shares her deep appreciation for the natural world, in the hopes of inspiring the robust protection and respect that we as humans surely owe her. She believes that we are not lost within the wilderness, we are lost without it. 20% of all profits will be donated to Conservancy Guardians. A selection of limited edition prints of intimate moments with some of Africa’s most iconic and endangered creatures, and vast, wild and incredibly diverse protected areas on the African Continent can be purchased HERE.
16. WWF – The gift of a better future
World Wildlife Fund works to sustain the natural world for the benefit of people and wildlife, collaborating with partners from local to global levels in nearly 100 countries. Support WWF’s work by choosing an animal adoption or one of their memberships as a gift for nature and wildlife-lovers wanting to help the environment. From Cub Club, Animal Adoptions to our range of Memberships, there is a gift for environmentalists of any age.