Alexandra Kain

GREEN GIFT GUIDE: Gifts That Give Back

by , 12/19/08

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It’s easy to get “wrapped up” in the holiday giving spirit, but why not think bigger than just your immediate family, and consider giving back to humanity and the planet. It’s a big world out there and there are plenty of people and environments in need. Whether you’re supporting global development by purchasing artisan crafts or restoring damaged habitats by planting trees or saving endangered species, these gifts that give back will make the world a better place.


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MAD IMPORTS CLUTCH- $69 – 79

Mad Imports founder Laurel Brandstetter works with women in Madagascar and Kenya to develop ecologically and socially sustainable accessories. They are currently retailing their eco-conscious wares through Nest, a non-profit organization that supports female artisans in the developing world, invests proceeds for the establishment of creative sustainable businesses, and offers a platform for them to sell their wares.

$69-79 from Nest

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HERLINDA MORALES HANDMADE PLATES – $42

These one of a kind, handmade plates from Mexico are also distributed by Nest. Herlinda Morales, a micro-loan recipient purchased a lead-free kiln and produces traditional Purépecha wares in hopes of supporting her family and being able to market her plates on an international level.

$42 from Nest

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MADE BY SURVIVORS: ECO TOTE and SILK TIE

The Made by Survivors shop offers products created by survivors of human trafficking, giving them a chance to earn fair and free wages. This wood-handled bag is made from plastic bag litter collected in Ahmedabad, India that has been washed and woven into a sturdy Eco-Chic Tote. For the gents, they offer a hand-dyed, hand loomed Silk Tie. Proceeds support survivors in 22 shelters and prevention centers worldwide.

Eco Tote- $25 from Made by Survivors
Silk Tie- $22 from Made by Survivors

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BIRDS OF AMERICA ARCHIVAL PRINT – $600 – $1400

These Audubon Society Archival Prints feature the artwork of John James Audubon, who chronicled the Birds of America in 1827. Shown here is his Blue Heron print, produced in as an archival museum quality giclee. All proceeds from these prints go to the National Audubon Society for the protection of birds and wildlife habitats.

$600-1400 from the Audubon Society

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OXFAM GIFT OF SHEEP – $45

Oxfam, an international organization working to fight worldwide poverty and injustice, is offering gifts to improve the lives of people around the globe, increase their productivity and work towards self-sustenance and education. The gift of a sheep will provide one woman in need with a constant source of wool for clothing and textiles which can be sold locally as a source of income. Oxfam gifts can be made in your recipient’s name, who will receive a personalized card detailing their gift.

$45 from Oxfam

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OXFAM CAN OF WORMS – $18

This smaller gift from Oxfam will donate a full pound of worms to a farmer to cultivate their land naturally, produce organic foods and enrich the local soil. Your recipient will get a card with a picture of worms on it explaining how they’re helping to make a healthier world.

$18 from Oxfam

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AID TO ARTISANS BRACELET – $15

Aid to Artisans helps crafty entrepreneurs in developing countries build sustainable and creative businesses. The Tagua Bracelet, handmade in Colombia, is made from the the ivory nut palm. Commonly used as an alternative to elephant ivory, the tagua nut is harvested only after it has fallen and its nutritious shell has been eaten by rainforest fauna.

$15 from Aid to Artisans

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GOOD MAGAZINE – $1

Send a GOOD Magazine Subscription to a friend and the full amount of the subscription will be donated to the charity of your choice. We know it made the list last year but the deal just got sweeter. Now you can choose your donation amount, starting at $1 and still get a full year subscription. The higher you go, the better the perks.

$1-1000 from GOOD Magazine

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HEPPER SPRING GREEN ROOST BIRDHOUSE – $125

The purchase of a Hepper Spring Green Roost birdhouse will donate partial proceeds to The Nature Conservancy and bring feathered friends around just in time for spring. This paint-free dwelling is made of anodized rust-free aluminum.

$125 from The Nature Conservancy
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ADOPT AN ANIMAL FROM WWF AND GET A PLUSH TOY – $25-$100

Adopt an animal from the World Wildlife Fund, and you will get a cute plush toy version of your animal. Every donation you make to WWF helps save some of the world’s most endangered animals from extinction and supports WWF’s conservation efforts. We think this is a fabulous way to encourage conservation efforts, by encouraging a love of animals in children! And if you can’t think of a good benefactor for your stuffed owl, wolf, chimpanzee or polar bear, you can donate your stuffed toy to a needy child, with WWF’s toys for tots program.

$25-100 from The World Wildlife Federation

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ARBOR DAY SOCIETY TREES – $8 – 15

Arbor Day Society fruit and nut trees will continue to give for decades. They’ll provide a local supply of fresh edible goods, shade, oxygen and animal habitats. Choose from walnut, pear, pecan, and apricot and throw in a pie crust for good measure.

$8-15 from The Arbor Day Society

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ALPACA WOOL THROW – $118

An Alpaca wool throw can help keep heating costs down while supporting sustainable development in Peru. After being displaced by terrorism in the 1970s Isidoro C’cahuantico learned to weave and now supports his family through craft work. Joint ventures between Overstock, National Geographic, Worldstock and Novica connect entrepreneurs in the developing world with a global market.

$118 from Worldstock

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BACKGAMMON SET – $155

The intricate backgammon set is hand carved by Ketut Sandi, an artist from Bali. Made from locally harvested cempaka wood, this heirloom quality gift is available through Novica, National Geographic‘s platform for global artisans.

$155 from Novica

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RECYCLED CAN MUSICAL INSTRUMENT – $13

In Ougadougou, Burkina Faso, artisans craft musical instruments from old coffee and sardine cans. These recycled instrument support life in Western Africa and make unique gifts for kids and adults.

$13 from Swahili Imports

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WEAVE BASKETS – $16 – 28

Made from locally harvested njodax grass with plastic binding from the Dakar mat factory, these beautiful baskets are handwoven by Wolof women in rural Senegal. They also make trivets for a fresh tabletop.

$16-28 from Swahili Imports

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PANGEA ORGANICS BODYCARE – $30 – 40

Pangea Organics has been offering ‘ecocentric bodycare’ for 7 years that includes plantable packaging with herb seeds. This year, all of their holiday gift items will be packaged in a biodegradable, plantable box embedded with spruce seeds.

$30-40 from Pangea Organics

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BOGO SOLAR FLASHLIGHT (Buy One Give One) – $25

Give the gift of light this year with the BOGO light – a fabulous solar-powered flashlight that costs just $25 – AND with your purchase of the flashlight, one is donated to someone who needs it in a developing country. We’ve written about it before because we love the product and the idea. Give the gift of light!

$25 from Bogolight

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INHABITAT T-Shirts & Bags – $20 – $35

Finally, if you are a fan of Inhabitat and want to support our publication and the eco-activism we do here, consider giving a fabulous Inhabitat t-shirt or tote bag to someone you love. Our tees and totes are super cute, stylish and eco-friendly, and make a great ECOnomical gift for your family and friends who care about environmental issues.

$20 – $35 from Inhabitat

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SOLAR COOKER FOR REFUGEES IN DARFUR – $30

Jewish World Watch is reaching out to the refugees of Darfur helping rebuild lives. These solar cookers use natural energy from the sun to heat meals without the need for long and often dangerous walks to collect firewood.

$30 from Jewish World Watch 

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1 Comment

  1. designtavern December 20, 2008 at 11:08 pm

    Some great gifts there, our family has actually just bought a goat (not for us..) via oxfam –
    The tote bags and silk ties are also nice additions. The Arbor Day Society trees are also a great idea, definitely the gift that keeps on giving, and giving, and giving..

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