Environment

AlterNet's 2017 Ethical Holiday Shopping Guide: 16 Gifts Under $100

Ditch the mass-produced trinkets and shop for gifts that improve lives and protect the planet.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

‘Tis the season for giving, but there's more than one way to show loved ones you care. As our penchant for over-consumption continues to wreak havoc on people, animals and the planet, alternatives like homemade treats and crafts, charitable donations and vouchers for tasks like petsitting or home repair look pretty appealing.

For those gifts you do buy, consider spending your hard-earned dollars at small businesses and social enterprises that work to improve lives and protect the environment.

Not sure where to start? We've got you covered. Read on for 16 ethical and affordable gifts to suit everyone on your list.

1. For winter warmth: Indigenous sweaters

Image credit: Indigenous

In cooler climates, you can't go wrong with something cozy, and knitwear from Indigenous comes with a backstory that will warm hearts as well as bodies. Every piece is made by skilled artisans who are paid fair wages, many of whom built their businesses with no-interest loans from Indigenous and RSF Social Finance.

The brand's undyed Turning Leaf sweater for women and classic V-neck sweater for men will keep your loved ones warm with 100 percent organic cotton, and the stylish cuts prove that sustainable fashion doesn't have to be boring.

Price: $92 for men; $98 for women

2. For the outdoor enthusiast: United By Blue Enamel Mug Candle

Image credit: United By Blue

This practical stocking stuffer is perfect for the nature-lover on your list: After burning the 40-hour soy candle, United By Blue's famous enamel mug is ready for use on the stovetop or campfire. As an added bonus, the Philadelphia social enterprise removes one pound of trash from oceans and waterways for every product purchased. How's that's for an enlightened source of light?

 

 

 

Price: $32.30

3. For the decorator: Dignify Fair Trade Kantha Quilt

Image credit: Dignify

Kantha quilts, also known as sari blankets, are bright, eye-catching and undeniably beautiful, and they're bound to impress any friend who’s obsessed with decor and design. These fair-trade varieties include six layers of reclaimed sari cloth, and are made by Bangladeshi women who were once living on the street or working the sex trade and now have gainful employment through Dignify.

Price: $56 to $98

4. For the foodie: Homeboy Foods Gift Baskets

Image credit: Homeboy Industries

Delight the foodies on your list while helping people turn their lives around with a gift basket from Homeboy Foods. With the slogan "jobs not jails," Homeboy Industries and Homeboy Foods strive to reduce recidivism by offering well-paying jobs and education to former gang members in Los Angeles who have spent time behind bars, totaling more than 120,000 people over the past 25 years. Ranging from big to small to vegan, Homeboy Foods' gift baskets include cookies, preserves, seasonal coffees and other holiday must-haves that are sure to please.

Price: $14.95 to $59.95

5. For the gadget-lover: BioLite SolarPanel 5+ charger

The undeniably cool SolarPanel 5+ from BioLite charges portable devices without an ounce of carbon emissions. An integrated sundial allows for direct sun capture (in the great outdoors or on a kitchen counter) and an ultraslim 5-watt battery saves power for later to juice up phones, tablets and other devices. Even better: Every purchase helps BioLite sell off-grid cooking, charging and lighting solutions at subsidized prices to families in developing countries. So far, the social enterprise has helped more than 115,000 people light their homes and phase out the use of dirty cookstoves.

Price: $79.95

6. For the clean freak: Ode to Clean Kit

Image credit: Ode to Clean

Surprise that friend or relative who genuinely enjoys cleaning with this catch-all solution from Ode to Clean. Studies show that continual exposure to disinfectants can carry long-term health risks, but Ode to Clean's namesake cleaning wipes are nontoxic and entirely plant-based, and they can be used on literally any surface around the house. Get your favorite neat freak started down a healthier path with the Ode to Clean Kit, which includes a sturdy BPA-free countertop container and two packets of wipes.

Price: $20

7. For the fashionista: Hope Made Pima Cotton Maxi Scarf

Image credit: HopeMade

The environmental and social scourge of fast fashion is now common knowledge, which may leave your favorite fashionista wondering how to stay on trend while doing no harm. Give her, the planet and garment workers a helping hand with this cozy layering scarf from Hope Made. Sewn by artisans in Peru from ultra-soft Peruvian Pima cotton, this pick is chic, versatile and free of all that eco-guilt.

Price: $74

8. For the accessorizer: Bead for Life Hope Set

Image credit: Bead for Life

The folks on your list who can't get enough sparkle will be glad to know about Bead for Life. Its handmade paper-beaded jewelry is sweet and stylish, and every piece funds entrepreneurial training for people living in poverty through the Street Business School. Bead for Life has reached over 46,000 people in Uganda through the school and other educational programs. Its Hope Set includes a necklace, bracelet and pair of earrings, along with a photograph of someone whose life was improved by purchases like yours.  

Price: $45

9. For the explorer: Toad & Co. Grand Trunk Hammock

Image credit: Toad & Co.

Carrying a hammock while camping, trekking or traveling seems like a luxury the wanderer's stuffed backpack can ill afford. But this super-compact model is small enough to fit in a stocking—or an 18-liter pack—for a touch of relaxation that can globe-trot with the best of them. Like all Toad & Co. purchases, a portion of the sale supports job training, outdoor adventures and other opportunities for adults with disabilities.

Price: $74.99

10. For the health and wellness expert: GoPure Pod

Image credit: GoPure

Recent reports indicate that nearly a fifth of the U.S. population was exposed to potentially unsafe tap water over the past decade. That's pretty scary, especially for wellness warriors who use their refillable water bottles to stay hydrated throughout the day. The GoPure Pod is just the ticket: Unlike bulky filter bottles, this portable water purifier is about the size of a wine cork and can remove lead, arsenic, chromium and other contaminants from tap water. Drop it in any vessel—a glass, bottle, coffee maker, or even a pet’s water bowl—for healthy, pH-balanced hydration anywhere.

Price: Starting at $24.95

11. For the gardening guru: Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Collection

Image credit: Baker Creek Rare Seeds

Baker Creek carries one of the largest selections of seeds from the 19th century, including many Asian and European varieties, and its heirloom collection has everything those green thumbs need to start the garden off right next year. The use of heirloom seeds helps protect biodiversity and preserve nutritious and hardy plant strains for future generations. The Baker Creek collection includes 25 varieties chosen to be productive in most U.S. climates, along with a garden planner and a resealable mylar bag for long-lasting storage.  

Price: $48

12. For the young (and young at heart): Jenga Ocean

Image credit: Bureo

With dual operations in California and Chile, Bureo is out to create a second life for discarded fishing nets, which make up a stunning 10 percent of the plastic pollution in our oceans. Through its Net Positive recycling program, the social enterprise provides collection points to keep fishing nets out of the ocean, and uses the resulting material for skateboards, sunglasses and this rebirth of everyone's favorite balancing game. Jenga Ocean combines everything players love about the original version with threatened marine animal block designs and special-edition rules that incorporate marine education. And yes, the blocks are made from recycled fishing nets.

Price: $49.95

13. For the winter athlete: Patagonia Fair Trade Fleece Vest

Image credit: Patagonia

Patagonia’s expanding line of recycled and fair trade fleece is tailor-made for those who can’t seem to get off the slopes this time of year. Made from 100 percent recycled polyester at fair-trade certified garment factories, the cult outdoor brand’s classic Synchilla vests for men and women are great layering basics that offer plenty of warmth without the bulk.  

Price: $79 for men and women

14. For the beach-goer: The Lost Explorer Fin4Fin Tee

Image credit: The Lost Explorer

Made in the heart of Venice Beach, California, this 100-percent organic cotton T-shirt lets your favorite beach bums rep their love for the sea while helping to preserve marine ecosystems. Founded by The Lost Explorer and supported by another brand on our list, Bureo, the Fin4Fin Campaign seeks to end the brutal practice of shark finning by educating people about sharks and other at-risk marine life. Each Fin4Fin tee purchased supports the campaign and its mission to "replace fear with fascination."

Price: $30

15. For the gift exchange: Kiva cards

Image credit: Kiva

Ditch plain old gift cards for those white elephant exchanges, and give the gift of opportunity instead. Kiva's model is simple: Lend someone as little as $25 to start a business, go to school, access clean energy, or better his or her life. Borrowers repay the loans when they're ready, and lenders use the money to back another project of their choosing.

Kiva lenders have supported 2.6 million borrowers in 83 countries thus far, and 96.9 percent of their loans were repaid. Every cent you put on a Kiva card goes directly to the borrower your recipients choose, and they’ll receive updates on how those dollars are doing good around the world—truly making this a gift that keeps on giving.

Price: $25 and up

16. For everyone: Arcadia Power Clean Energy Gift Cards

Image credit: Arcadia Power

 

Want to give the gift of clean energy? Washington, D.C. startup Arcadia Power has you covered. Its signature platform lets anyone—renters or homeowners, regardless of location— offset their energy use with renewable energy certificates (RECs), which represent investments in clean power projects across the country. With gift cards starting at $25, your friends, family and colleagues will see lower electricity bills, and Arcadia will offset its power use with wind energy credits.

Price: $25 and up

Not done yet? For all your other online shopping needs, check out the Impakt browser extension, which interfaces with popular online marketplaces like Amazon and flags products for documented evidence of corporate irresponsibility.

Got an ethical gift idea to recommend? Share it in the comments.

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Mary Mazzoni is a freelance environmental journalist and editor based in Philadelphia. Her work has appeared on TriplePundit, Yahoo Travel, Budget Travel, and many other publications. Follow her on Twitter @mary_mazzoni.