This holiday season will inevitably be different as the coronavirus pandemic keeps families apart, but if you're still searching for a way to show loved ones you care without leaving undue impact on people and the planet, we've got you covered. Read on for our sustainable holiday gift guide.
As the coronavirus pandemic forced the world into lockdown, rainbows quickly became a symbol of solidarity in support of frontline workers and those feeling isolated indoors. Created by a group of young artists under 12, in collaboration with Uncommon Goods, this cute market tote brings quarantine window art to life while raising money to support COVID-19 relief.
From April through July, Uncommon Goods generated more than $22,000 for NYC Health + Hospitals through sales of the tote. All sale proceeds now benefit Americares' COVID-19 response efforts in the U.S.
Created by MantraBand, a line of minimal bracelets imprinted with inspirational phrases, the CharityBands collection supports nonprofits that create a positive impact on women's and children's issues. Choose from organizations including Alex's Lemonade Stand, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the Alzheimer's Association and more for a gift that represents your loved one's values. Five dollars from every gift purchase benefits the chosen charity.
Did a loved one or two become obsessed with baking bread during quarantine? Dress up their masterful creations with this festive bread basket wrapped with silk sari scraps. Through Heifer International, each gift purchase helps Nepali women artisans earn money to rebuild after destruction caused by the 2015 earthquake.
Global Goods Partners works directly with women-led, community-based organizations to bring artisanal goods to market. This piece combines woodwork from Artesanos de San Pedro in Guatemala with a handmade ceramic serving bowl from Dishes & Deco in Tunisia, both of which are women-led artisan cooperatives that pay workers a living wage.
Made using Bluesign-approved materials, which conserve resources and protect the health of workers and the environment, this outdoor blanket from REI Co-Op is the perfect gift for the nature-lover on your list. With one water-resistant side and one cozy fleece side, it's perfect for picnics in the park, days at the beach or cuddles by the campfire.
With a blend of essential oils made from sustainably harvested plants, this cozy soy and coconut wax candle gives off a scent reminiscent of a Pacific Northwest forest. Along with sourcing sustainable ingredients, Oakland-based Juniper Ridge donates 10 percent of its annual profits to conservation organizations through the Wilderness Defense Program. 2020 recipients include the California Wilderness Coalition, the Oregon Natural Desert Association and Washington Wild.
For the little ones and new parents on your list, this adorable baby blanket from the World Wildlife Fund is just the ticket. The sweet sloth plush toy folds out into a blanket, making it perfect for nap time and play time — and all gift sale proceeds benefit the WWF's global conservation work.
Fashion label Tory Burch curates this limited-edition gift box of goodies every holiday season with proceeds benefiting the company's foundation, which works to empower women as entrepreneurs. This year's box includes a Tory Burch scarf, a small-batch soy candle, imported Vietnamese coffee and more — all from small businesses headed by women.
Heirloom seeds bring less common flavors to home gardens while helping to preserve biodiversity. From cool-season greens and gourmet lettuces to exotic tomatoes, these custom seed packs from Terroir Seeds are sure to please any gardener on your list.
As the supplier for Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavors like Half Baked, the folks at Greyston know brownies. The social enterprise also pioneered open hiring back in 1987. Having built its team without interviews, job applications or background checks, Greyston is now primarily staffed by people with criminal justice histories, as well as those experiencing homelessness, substance abuse issues or who, for whatever reason, have trouble finding steady work.
From classics like brownies and blondies to creative flavors like snickerdoodle and cinnamon roll, these socially conscious treats are sure to please any sweet tooth on your list. (And yes, they have vegan options!)
If food is your go-to gift, consider swapping out your standbys for these gift packages with a side of social consciousness. Operating under the motto "jobs not jails," Homeboy Industries offers employment, education, and other services to former gang members after they are released from prison. Having served well over 100,000 people in its home city of Los Angeles since 1986, it now powers the Global Homeboy Network of more than 400 organizations committed to giving formerly incarcerated people a second chance.
Homeboy's selection of gift packages include coffee, snacks, preserves and baked goods, and all proceeds support its re-entry programs.
GoSun, the maker of portable solar devices including the Chill solar-powered cooler, is taking on plastic waste. This clever set of collapsible cutlery sits in a travel case the size of a credit card and can easily replace single-use alternatives while on the go. The concept proved so popular that it blew past its Kickstarter goal in a single day, and it's bound to be a hot stocking stuffer for greenies this year.
Despite their sustainable specs, few new gifts will have less impact on people and the planet than a usable item that already exists and might otherwise go to waste. Fortunately, the re-commerce segment is booming, and major brands are getting into the trend in a big way — making it easy to source a gently-used gift for everyone on your list.
Just before Black Friday, Patagonia added an option to buy used through its used clothing and gear program, Worn Wear, next to every new product listed online (pictured above). The outdoor gear giant is the first company to give customers an easy way to purchase a used alternative when shopping for new products. Other popular brands with re-commerce stores include REI, The North Face, Eileen Fisher and Taylor Stitch. Check out our 2019 list here.
The coronavirus pandemic and related shutdowns have decimated small businesses across the U.S. and around the world. As of this fall, nearly 100,000 U.S.-based small businesses had shuttered permanently.
Even if you're avoiding non-essential, in-person shopping due to the pandemic, you can still support small businesses in your area. Use sources like Google Maps and Yelp to pull up mom-and-pops near you, and browse their websites for online shopping options. To support Black-owned businesses, which have been particularly hard hit, directories like We Buy Black, Official Black Wall Street and EatOkra can help guide your way.
And don't forget restaurants! Purchasing gift certificates for your loved ones to use once it's safe to dine out again can help your favorite eateries and bars weather the storm and remain part of your community.
Even if you can't be together this holiday season, you can still show loved ones you care by donating to COVID-19 relief efforts in their names. Support the World Health Organization's COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, or use a rating database like Charity Navigator to choose a nonprofit working on direct COVID-19 relief or providing food, shelter and other necessities in your community.
Image credit: Any Lane/Pexels
Mary has reported on sustainability and social impact for over a decade and now serves as managing editor of TriplePundit. She is also the general manager of TriplePundit's Brand Studio, which has worked with dozens of brands and organizations on sustainability storytelling.
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