Christmas is widely acknowledged as an orgy of consumerism.
This Monday alone (Cyber Monday) supposedly wracked up $2.65 billion in sales.
And where’s all that money going? To buy gifts for people who probably already have enough stuff.
(How to tell if someone has too much stuff: you end up buying them novelty cheese slicers*)
It’s easy to get swept along in the madness – says the woman who just bought a gift for her brother’s cat – but perhaps this year it might be an idea to make those dollars (or pounds – hello UK!) go further.
There are lots of gifts that can benefit charities, help conservation efforts…even save lives.
Here’s a few of my favourites, if you’ve any other ideas feel free to chime in in the comments.
For animal lovers:
Giving an abandoned animal a home is one of the best things you can do during the holidays. The Petfinder Foundation can help you find your nearest shelter and determine which is the best breed for your home.
One caveat though: giving a pet as a gift is always risky. Please make sure that the recipient actually wants an animal, is capable of taking care of it and can make the necessary commitment. If there’s any doubt, you can always just make a donation to the Petfinder Foundation (which provides much needed assistance to shelters around the country) or sponsor an animal at your local shelter.
If someone has a thing for an unusual animal, check out the World Wildlife Fund that will probably let you adopt it – I fostered a Great White Shark last year courtesy of a very good friend. He never returns my calls**
Chocolate always goes down well (and far too easily) at Christmas. This December, New York company Choco-Logo are donating 10% of all shop proceeds to charity. They help hospices, libraries and wildlife charities so your gluttony comes guilt-free.
Save the bees, protect the earth and get yourself a delicious jar of raw honey in the process by investing in Ames Farm’s Honey House. This kickstarter project aims to build a structure for bees that is solar and geothermal powered. Depending on how much you invest, backers can get honey hampers of varying sizes.
Admittedly, I don’t know a lot about fashion but friends who do tell me that the Navajo Weekender bag from Proud Mary is a solid choice (see below). As a bonus, you’re actively supporting local artists because Proud Mary partners with artisans in developing countries to offer a range of quirky, unique and delicately crafted accessories including bags, scarves, shoes, jewellery and cushions.
For those in northern climes, this Black and White Alpaca shawl is a great stocking stuffer. It’s from Global Goods Partners, a non-profit organisation that supports women making handcrafted goods in 20 countries around the world.
For the gym buddy/fitness enthusiast:
I shared this top on my facebook page earlier in the week because I’m trying to give Santa a big fat hint:
For the guys:
What to get the man who has everything? A recycled newspaper wallet. Made from a recycled Cambodian newspaper, it’s a lot cooler than it sounds and comes from Friends International which supports children and young people in South East Asia.
For the techies:
If anything were to persuade me to get an iPad it’d be this cute handmade case from Global Goods Partners which is made by the women of the Wayuu tribe in Colombia.
Texting gloves on Etsy allow you to text and keep your precious paws warm and snug. Plus they’re cute as a button. Yes, Etsy isn’t a charity but it’s made my list because it helps a lot of small companies and individual entrepreneurs reach a wider audience (support small business y’all!). Plus my friend sells stuff on there and she’s very awesome.
*these are for my bro-in-law, he never reads this so I’m safe
**the shark, not the friend.
NB: If you want to forego the gifts this year and donate directly to a charity, GiveWell has compiled a thoroughly researched list of the most effective so you can be assured that your donation is definitely making a difference.