ethical presents
ethical presents
By Katie Foote, Epicure & Culture Contributor

Not only is shopping for gifts stressful, but it can also result in buying things that people don’t actually need. Unwanted presents add to global waste and can have a negative impact on the environment.

Make this holiday season an ethical one and shop for items that are practical, sustainable and eco-friendly.

Epicure & Culture has curated a list of gift ideas that support global good causes, promote sweatshop-free products and minimize our carbon footprint. If you want to help make a difference this festive season, check out the following ethical presents for your loved ones.

ethical presents
Nudo Gift Adoption. Photo courtesy of Nudo.

1) Cold-Pressed Olive Oil That Supports Traditional Farmers

Nudo Adopt is a subscription to sustainably produced olive oil. Basically, you adopt an olive tree from your choice of Italian groves and receive shipments of cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil.

Your subscription ($72.50 for a bi-annual delivery) supports the continuation of traditional Italian farming practices against destructive factory farming. You’ll also receive a discount when shopping from Nudo Adopt’s online store.

This gift becomes even more meaningful when you get to learn more about the farmers who benefit from your purchase.

For example, Toby is a young man with autism who found his way through farming. His mother is expanding the benefits by helping other families affected by autism.

ethical presents
LifeStraw Go. Photo courtesy of LifeStraw.

2) A Water Bottle That Provides Clean Water For Children

LifeStraw offers a range of water filtration gifts that will keep your loved ones safely hydrated on their trips. The new LifeStraw Go with 2-Stage Filtration ($49.95) has two stages of filtration to eliminate chemicals and bad taste. For a perfect stocking-stuffer that also provides on-the-go convenience, try LifeStraw Personal ($19.95) or LifeStraw Steel ($54.95).

When buying a LifeStraw water bottle, you will also be contributing to the company’s Follow the Liters program, which provides safe drinking water for children in developing countries. By February 2017, this charity program hopes to reach 1,000 primary schools and benefit more than 575,000 students.

ethical presents
Outside the Box. Photo courtesy of Cheeky Days.

3) A Craft Box That Promotes Acts of Kindness

If you’re a parent trying to tackle the toy overload of modern children, think about purchasing a subscription to Outside The Box by Cheeky Days; a family box that inspires kindness, compassion and giving. The box was designed to encourage families to spend quality time together and have meaningful conversations. It also encourages children to give back to their community through small acts, from sharing cookies with neighbors to donating unwanted items to people in need.

The box includes unique, hand-picked products from small businesses. Part of the proceeds benefit featured organizations. Outside The Box is aimed at children aged between 2 and 7 and is available for purchase online as a single box ($51.99) in three-month, six-month, or monthly subscription.

ethical presents
The Tower Garden. Photo courtesy of the Tower Garden.

4) Plants That Reduce Environmental Impact

Fresh food lovers will enjoy a Tower Garden by Juice Plus+ ($525).  This vertical aeroponic system allows you to grow your own produce using less than 10 percent of the land and water that is normally required. The Tower Garden simplifies gardening to produce 30% more nutritious fruits and vegetables (on average) than soil-based crops.

Juice Plus®+ Foundation partnered up with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America to create the “Growing Up” program, which supplies clubs with Tower Gardens. This program teaches children about healthy living and nutrition by allowing them to grow and enjoy their own produce.

ethical presents
Dawn to Dusk Stowaway. Photo courtesy of Stowaway Cosmetics.

5) Cosmetics That Minimize Waste

Did you know that 75 percent of women don’t finish their cosmetics? Stowaway Cosmetics redesigned its packaging to a size that helps women finish what they purchase, reducing waste and lightening your carry-on in the process. They also encourage you to send back your empties to promote recycling.

Their products are all cruelty-free, EU-compliant (they don’t use the 1300 banned ingredients that are legal in the US but considered health hazards in the EU) and gluten-free.

Many of their products are also vegan (some contain beeswax). Their Dawn to Dusk Palette ($25) is the size of a credit card and their Basics Kit ($75) has everything you need for a classic make-up look while fitting in the palm of your hand.

If you love low-impact beauty, definitely check them out.

Additionally, you may also enjoy these zero waste makeup brands.

ethical presents
Balitello Performance Dress Socks. Photo courtesy of Balitello.

6) Quirky Socks That Benefit Various Charities

If you think your better half would love a pair of socks that look great and feel comfy, check out Balitello Performance Dress Socks. They have a Sock of the Month Club (starting at $12/month), where you receive socks with fun designs without having to compromise on comfort and quality. The socks have reinforced padding in the heel and toe, as well as arch support and elastic technology to keep them from slipping.

Each month, your sock subscription supports a different charity, including American Cancer Society, American Heart Association and the Salvation Army.

Check out these #unique #ethical gift #ideas for your loved ones this #festive season. Click To Tweet
ethical presents
Metal-free travel belts. Photo courtesy of Simple.Be.

7) Sweatshop-Free Belts That Help Reduce Waste

These metal-free travel belts by SIMPLE.BE make a perfect gift for frequent travelers. The belts are made in Oregon (USA) in sweatshop-free conditions by workers earning a living wage, in a low-waste factory powered by 100% renewable energy.

Replace old clunky leather belts with these lighter, breathable, durable, and machine-washable travel version. These belts have no holes so you’ll get a perfect fit every time. Zigzag stitching and a double layer adds stiffness without compromising on comfort, with a single layer at the buckle. Belts start at $19.

ethical presents
Alice and Whittle Ankle Boot. Photo courtesy of Alice and Whittle.

8) Rain Boots That Promote Community Development

Alice + Whittles produce sustainable, handcrafted ankle rain boots. They also support ethical manufacturing and worker empowerment. Their signature boot ($160) has a minimalist design that combines the simplicity of Swiss design with natural rubber to create footwear that is suitable for work and play.

The idea for Alice + Whittles began when the founders were employed as UN emergency relief workers in Tunisia. Since then, they have created products that are made ethically from start to finish. Their boots are handmade in Sri Lanka with natural rubber directly sourced from an FSC-certified and sustainably managed forest. A + W pays a premium on the product so that the local community benefits from fair pay, healthy working conditions and improved local infrastructure.

ethical presents
Red Twist in Burnt Orange. Photo courtesy of Red Twist.

9) A Cashmere Sweater That Sends Girls To School

If you want to give someone the perfect sweater for their travels, consider the one-size-fits-all Red Twist cashmere sweater wrap ($195).

The founder designs the wraps from warm, soft and “yummy” cashmere that she came across on her travels through China. The 100% pure cashmere wrap is non-bulky and only weighs 13 ounces; perfect for long flights.  Money from the sale of each Red Twist wrap funds the education of young Asian girls through a donation to Room to Read.

ethical presents
Get in the holiday spirit with Ivory Ella. Photo courtesy of Ivory Ella

10) Comfy Clothes That Protect Elephants

Ivory Ella is a casual clothing company based in Rhode Island that donates 10% of net profits to Save the Elephants. Save The Elephants has made a number of scientific breakthroughs about elephant behavior and their interaction with the African landscape. Funding also protects elephants from ivory poachers and raises awareness of the plight of elephants. Ivory Ella’s super soft leggings ($49) will make any long flight more comfortable (and bearable!)

#Responsible #travelers will #love these #practical #ethical #gifts. Click To Tweet
ethical presents
Shoes for immigration. Photo courtesy of Common Ground.

11) Shoes That Encourage Empathy

This atypical footwear by Common Ground is more than a fashion statement. Common Ground makes simple, clean and classic footwear with a social message, starting at around $70. For each pair of shoes, they use graphic designs to communicate opposing viewpoints on a social issue, like gender equality, immigration and gun violence.

Common Ground’s shoes are designed to promote empathy and serve as daily reminders to improve communication with one another. The company also donates 2.5% of sales to Start Empathy, an initiative of Ashoka (the largest network of social entrepreneurs), which is dedicated to building a future in which every child masters empathy.

ethical presents
Hanging Tents to Save the Trees. Photo courtesy of Tree Pod.

12) Hanging Tents That Fund Future Forests

Love ethical outdoor brands?

This festive season, give your kids a tree house that funds future forests. TreePod ($325) is a super durable nylon tent with supportive aluminum poles and hangs from one suspension point.

This unique tent is designed for kids and it’s best used as a car camping travel accessory.  The TreePod has durable water repellant siding and is UV-protectant for longevity. It is also fire retardant and holds up to 500 pounds. The company is currently working on an adult version of the tent called “TreePod Camper”.


How LA-Made Clothing Is Helping End Poverty & Reduce Waste [Blog Inspiration]

Vigilant Personal Alarm [Travel Safety]

The Wander Year: One Couple’s Journey Around the World [Great Reads]

Do you have any ethical presents to add to this list? Please share in the comments below! 

ethical presents

Katie Foote

Katie Foote may be a physicist by trade but she spent several years travelling the world as much as possible. After four years of semi-nomadic life, she spent a couple years in Auckland, New Zealand and recently moved to Vancouver, Canada. Despite living more traditionally, she has insight on how to travel the world on a graduate student budget (cheap!), explore off-the-beaten-path destinations and authentically experiencing new places by connecting to locals. When she's not doing physics or globe-trotting, she likes kickboxing, yoga and exploring her extraordinary new backyard of British Columbia.

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  1. Cynthia M. Winstead

    I think the cashmere sweater is more valuable to have because it helps other girls to send in the school. Great idea here. Thank you so much for sharing these useful ethical presents for everyone. Surely, many of us have found it necessary. These ethical presents are perfect for this Holiday Season. For more gifts presents that you want to buy this Holiday Season, I have checked out and there are lots of options to choose.

  2. That water bottle for kids is a really good idea. Thank you for mentioning it! 🙂

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