Ultimate Gift Guide For The Ethically-Conscious Traveler

By Katie Foote & Jessica Festa

Are you an ethically-minded culture carnivore with a passion for travel?

Check out Epicure & Culture’s Holiday Gift Guide featuring products that are eco-friendly, support rural artisans and benefit charities around the world.

From tea to spices to cookbooks to practical travel clothing, these are presents you may be tempted to give yourself; but you can feel good knowing your purchase supports globally-minded companies and often donates to positive change-focus non-profits.

Note: We use affiliate links when possible, which means that we earn a commission at no extra cost to you if a purchase is made. Additionally, some items may have been gifted for testing purposes. We only recommend products we truly think you’ll love!

able wallets
Empower women with your purchase. Photo via ABLE.

1. Beautiful Apparel & Accessories By Women From ABLE

How about empowering women with your gift purchase?

This is easy to do by shopping on the ABLE website

ABLE is on a mission to support women, with 96% of their staff being female. They train and hire women to help end the poverty cycle and get closer to true gender equality. 

Shop their apparel, jewelry, and accessories for unique finds made by women that are extremely high-quality, too. 

Click here and use code “EPICUREANDCULTURE” to snag 20% off your Wolven Threads order!

2. Wolven Threads Activewear

Is your giftee a yogi, beach lover, or active traveler who is passionate about the planet?

Then you’ll want to check out Wolven Threads.

Made up of a team of artists and activists, this activewear and swimwear brand is all about making high-quality garments featuring bold and beautiful prints — that are also sustainable.

Not only are their products climate neutral, but they’re made with recycled PET plastics and feature minimal packaging.

Additionally, Wolven Threads is a member of 1% For The Planet, meaning that they donate at least 1% of their annual sales to environmental causes.

Love discounts?

Get 20% off with code “EPICUREANDCULTURE” (cannot be combined with another sale or discount).

Peak Design Everyday Totepacks make for ethical gifts
Everyday Totepack via Peak Design

3. Peak Design Everyday Totepack 20L

If your giftee is into photography, or simply needs a versatile and durable bag for daily use and weekend getaways, the Everyday Totepack from Peak Design is perfect.

First of all, the bag switches between being a tote bag and a backpack — and you can even remove and stow the shoulder straps.

Personally, I love how much organization there is, both through the numerous interior and exterior pockets as well as with the FlexFold dividers that are perfect for storing camera lenses and other items you want to keep seperate.

But the most unique feature of the bag is the side access zippers that allow you to grab your gear without having to even take the bag off your shoulder.

In terms of ethics, there are many reasons to feel good about buying this bag from Peak Design, a Certified B Corp company.

Not only does Peak Design offset all of their carbon emissions, but they also co-founded a nonprofit called Climate Neutral to help other businesses do the same.

Moreover, they’re passionate about avoiding materials that are bad for the environment, with their main fabrics being a nylon/poly blend that uses 100% post-consumer recycled polyester and 100% post-industrial recycled nylon. Peak Design also aims to use 100% recyclable packaging by the end of 2021.

These are just a few of many ways Peak is ensuring their products are ethical, along with paying fair wages, being a 1% For The Planet member, and more.

Pakt offers ethical gifts for travelers
Photo via Pakt

4. The Pakt Coffee Kit

For the conscious traveler who doesn’t want to settle for mediocre coffee, the Pakt Coffee Kit offers the perfect solution.

Forget instant coffee and cheap hotel kettles, as the kit allows you to make a delicious cup of joe using a classic pour-over brewing method.

This portable coffee kit is compact enough to store in your luggage (it’s carry-on-friendly!) and is light enough to simply carry by hand if you want to bring it to the office.

For a conscious twist, Pakt ships their products in completely plastic-free packaging designed by SeaHive, their sister company that’s dedicated to fighting plastic pollution before it enters waterways.

Additionally, they’re passionate about using only modern animal-friendly materials that have as minimal of an environmental impact as possible.

Pakt has also set a goal to become Climate Neutral Certified in 2021!

ethical travel gifts from Cotopaxi
Photo via Cotopaxi

5. Dorado Half-Zip Fleece Jacket From Cotopaxi

Cotopaxi is one of our favorite sustainable travel companies, as along with making high-quality outdoor gear in fun colors they also focus on giving back.

All of their gear has an interesting story, though one item to get on your radar is the Dorado Half-Zip Fleece Jacket.

A good fleece is a travel staple, and this one is super soft and made from 100% recycled fleece in a sustainability-focused, energy-efficient factory.

The half-zip feature means it’s simple to quickly get some cool air or warm-up as needed, while two hand pockets and one chest pocket make organization easy.

Feel good knowing that Cotopaxi is a Certified B Corporation — meaning it has met extremely high standards of operating ethically — and that 1% of their profits go to the Cotopaxi Foundation, which awards grants to exceptional nonprofits.

ethical Christmas gifts from icebreaker
Photo via icebreaker

6. Merino Shearer V Neck Sweater From icebreaker

Looking for ethical gifts in the sustainable fashion category?

Then you’ll love icebreaker, a company focused on creating natural solutions to technical problems through ethical production and transparent operations.

Their Merino Shearer V Beck Sweater is one item to put on your radar, especially as it’s stylish enough to wear at home as well as functional enough to pack in your travel suitcase.

Made from 100% merino wool — a material that performs better and is kinder to the planet vs typical synthetics and plastics — the sweater is incredibly comfortable with a relaxed fit and technology that regulates body temperature and is odor resistant.

Wear it for day time and evenings, work and play, relaxed weekends or adventure travel. It truly is a versatile staple for your closet!

gift guide
An assortment of products. Photo courtesy of Solid Bar Company.

7. Shampoo & Conditioner Bars From The Solid Bar Company

Talk about meaningful travel brands!

Every traveler needs personal care products; but with luggage restrictions, carrying around heavy toiletries isn’t an attractive option.

Luckily, this gift guide features The Solid Bar Company offering quality, light-weight products to serve as an alternative to traditional products which can be 90% water.  

Their bars are always natural, organic, solid (spill-free) and carry-on-approved.

Shampoo, conditioner and all-natural bug repellent bars are highly concentrated — meaning a small amount goes a long way, about 35-40 uses — as well a biodegradable.

Furthermore, their products protect our planet and marine life with eco-friendly packaging like biodegradable bags, waterproof labels and aluminum, recyclable rust-proof tins. 

Pro tip:

Pair this sustainable staple with some zero waste makeup for a truly eco-conscious beauty routine!

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Charm bracelet. Photo courtesy of Baker n Baker.

8. Charm Bracelets From Alex And Ani

If you know travelers who want their jewelry to reflect their wanderlust side even when they switch from hiking boots to heels, consider Alex and Ani bangles.

Their Take The Wheel Charm Bangle is designed for gypsy souls who want their jewelry to reflect their free spirit. 

Alex and Ani donate 20% of the proceeds from each bangle sold to The Herren Project, an organization providing assistance to those taking the first steps toward a life of sobriety, and funds preventative educational programs on the signs of addiction.

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Salinger Lifestyle Sweater. Photo courtesy of Ecoths.

9. Ecoths Eco-Friendly Clothing

Thanks to Ecoths, men can reduce world hunger and look great on your next trip.

For each piece of fashionable and eco-friendly clothing you buy, Ecoths donates three meals to the hungry.

Ecoths has an assortment of urban rugged and travel-friendly clothing for men.

Those perusing our gift guide looking for a multipurpose travel piece should consider the Salinger Sweater, a versatile sweater reversing from a solid with contrast stitching to a solid with contrasting ribbed shoulder panels, collar, and cuffs.

The tight-knit, comfortable, soft organic cotton makes it double as a lightweight jacket, too.

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Bottled Cinnamon Vietnamese. Photo courtesy of Frontier Co-op.

10. Frontier Co-Cop Herbs & Spices

Re-create ethnic dishes from your travels at home with Frontier Co-op herbs and spices, where every pinch nourishes people and the planet.

Frontier Co-op grows botanicals without GMOs, ETO or irradiation, and closely supervises production around the globe and at their Iowa headquarters.

Moreover, their cooperative business model donates a portion of proceeds to support research, organic agriculture and environmentally responsible farming practices where each special spice is harvested.

For example, your gift guide purchase of Organic Ground Vietnamese Cinnamon — produced with double the average oil content for a richer, more potent spice — makes it easier for Vietnamese children to attend school by supporting lodging, food, and school supplies so 475 children can stay at their schools during the week.

Their vanilla beans similarly provide an exceptional product that benefits a good cause.

Growing quality vanilla requires the correct combination of process and climate. Their Organic Bourbon Vanilla Beans are pollinated, grown and cured by hand in Madagascar.

The 18-month process creates warm, full-flavored vanilla that can’t easily be replicated.

To support these vanilla farmers in Madagascar, Frontier Co-op donated $40,000 to wells to bring clean water to 25,000 people.

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Cotton hammock. Photo courtesy of Yellow Leaf Hammocks.

11. Yellow Leaf Hammocks

Bring the simplicity and relaxation of a tropical getaway into your home with colorful hammocks that reduce poverty in Thailand.

Yellow Leaf Hammocks are available in a range of trendy colors and each one is inspired by (and named for) a beautiful vacation destination.

Each hammock directly creates artisan jobs for mothers in our weaving communities in northern Thailand, helping to combat debt slavery in the villages.

One of their most popular designs is “Kokomo,” showcasing a colorful design inspired by a mythical island paradise. 

Grab your favorite travel journal and relax!

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Easy way to start a garden! Photo courtesy of Seedstock.

12. Seedsheets

Some jet-setters have to make sacrifices to spend time on the road; but thanks to Seedsheets, gardening does not have to become an abandoned hobby.

These Vermont-based entrepreneurs design optimally arranged gardens that are “printed” into a weed barrier fabric with embedded organic and non-GMO seeds.

All you need to do is place the sheet atop soil and water it to create a perfect garden in just 30 seconds.

For every Pizza Seedsheet that you buy, they donate a garden to a school so others can learn the value of growing their own food.

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Gourmet Dinner Kit for 8. Photo courtesy of Style and Entertaining.

13. Dinner Party Kits From Style And Entertaining

Do you want to host the perfect dinner party, but don’t know where to start?

Style and Entertaining creates Dinner Party “toolkits” that also provide training and employment for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

These toolkits are designed to provide fun, creative, hands-on learning experiences as you cook, also teaching how to put a meal together with tips and style guides.

The Dinner Kits are made of 100% all-natural ingredients and are handcrafted in California wine country at ArcPak.

This non-profit organization creates meaningful job opportunities for the Bay Area disabled and allows them to be more self-sufficient. 

What ethical gifts would you add to this list?

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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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