31 Holiday Gift Ideas for the Socially Conscious

1. Alternative Outfitters' vegan watches are strictly non-leather and cruelty-free.

2. Find a sapling at Jonsteen Trees and send it to a green-thumbed friend, complete with protective peat pot and instructions for the entire life of the tree.

3. The Syracuse Cultural Worker's thirteenth annual Women Artist Daybook features a day planner, women's resource lists, the holidays of numerous faiths, and a women's calendar. It's printed on post-consumer, chlorine and dioxin-free paper, and, of course, has lots of art by women.

4. One-of-a-kind album-cover sketchbooks are filled with paper made from 100% recycled blue jeans.

5. Find picture frames of all sizes, made from bicycle chains and car gears.

6. A truly wonderful book to give to anyone interested in sustainability is Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, written by two people who make their living designing buildings and products that "nourish" people and our natural environments. The book itself is made from a clean, infinitely recyclable synthetic paper. Find an independent bookseller near you who carries it.

7. What do laughter and mints have in common? They're both refreshing! Indictmints come in a tin decorated with jailbirds Libby, Rove, Cheney and DeLay. Also available: National Embarrassmints.

8. Global Exchange sells a tea infuser mug and a coffee press mug, both made by craft producers earning fair wages.

9. Treat a friend in wintry climes to a Necknoosh, a button-up neck warmer made in Brooklyn with soft-dyed organic cotton.

10. These flags are for a different kind of flag-waving American.

11. Literati lip balm is all vegan and comes in four flavors: PoeMegranate, Alcott Apricot, Bronte Berry and ShakeSpearmint.

12. The 2006 "Cycle and Recycle" calendar, produced by and benefiting the International Bicycle Fund and a dozen other bicycle advocacy groups, celebrates the bicycle as an everyday transportation mode. According to the IBF web site, you can even use it again in 2017 and 2023 when the calendar year "recycles." A great gift if you can deal with their holiday shipping schedule.

13. Minneapolis-based feminist sex shop Smitten Kitten sells a whole host of safe, healthy, sex-positive goodies. Among their tamer items is InterCourses: An Aphrodisiac Cookbook.

14. It's true that candles and incense aren't the best things for health and air quality…. But if your friends insist, they can at least light them (during the day) with a solar-powered lighter.

15. This dried-flower picture frame is handmade (at fair wages) by artists in the Philippines, using all natural fibers, including a weed that interferes with local agriculture.

16. Inventive crafting company Motherboard says it uses 25,000 to 30,000 pounds of circuit boards each year, which would otherwise go into landfills, to make fun things like money clips sold by Eco Artware.

17. He's best known for writing The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but Douglas Adams is said to have preferred his book on endangered species, Last Chance to See, co-authored with zoologist Mark Carwardine. It's a beautifully written, highly informative and witty account of their travels to the habitats of some of the last remaining members of several of the world's most endangered species. Find a local bookseller who carries it.

18. Also from Eco Artware: recycled paper-bead bracelets, crafted by (and benefiting) women in Northern Uganda who are living with HIV/AIDS or have been displaced by violent conflict.

19. Organic window boxes come with organic seed packets and soil. You can choose from herbal teas, basils, spices, mixed herbs, cat grass, dwarf sunflowers, and edible pansies.

20. Swaddle our commander-in-chief in Napoleonic garb with Bush Dress-Up Magnets.

21. Old tennis racket covers are born again as card/key/money holders.

22. Canadian camping outfitters Mountain Equipment Co-op not only sell terrific gear, they're also a highly successful co-operative operation that prioritizes fair labor and environmental stewardship. If you can handle the international shipping charge and the tight holiday shipping schedule, treat a friend to an energy-efficient ultra-light head lamp.

23. Give someone a credit-card necklace and remind them what the holiday season is really all about.

24. Green Glass turns old wine and beer bottles into goblets, tumblers, vases and candle holders. All of their glass comes from waste streams and is never bought new. Also, they frost their glasses by sandblasting them (as opposed to using more hazardous chemical processes) and employ union labor.

25. Pick a bookmark with a message about social change, organic living, human rights, or any other issue. Then order a dozen (75 cents each) and include one with all your presents. There's no easier way to indoctrinate your friends and family.

Gifts that keep on giving

26. Donate a pair of No Sweat sweatshop-free sneakers in someone's name to a survivor of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana or Mississippi.

27. It's the best kind of gift certificate there is. By giving a Good Gifts voucher, you can give someone the pleasure of selecting a worthy cause to support (with your money, of course). Recipients range from elderly dog retirement homes to programs that supply decommissioned weapons to blacksmiths in need of metal in Sierra Leone.

28. If you have any climate-conscious friends who just hopped a jet across the country and are feeling a little guilty about it, they may be tickled to receive CO2 offsets (literally, to offset the emissions from their flight).

29. Included in the cost of a Child Health Site glass wall vase are resources to provide much-needed child health services.

30. Feed some birds and some people by giving a loved one a birdhouse made from mature bamboo. For every one sold, The Hunger Site will fund food relief.

31. Ecoist handbags are handmade using recycled commercial packaging. For every bag sold, they plant a tree in an area rendered environmentally sensitive by either natural or industrial changes.


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