It's that time of year again. The time where everyone rushes out to spend copious amounts of money on copious amounts of things for the one and only reason that is... Christmas.
Through all this rush and all this mayhem when we try and buy all the right things for the people we love, and even for the people we don't love so much, we tend to forget that somewhere, someone doesn't even know it's Christmas. Their world goes on like any other day, a day that is much less fortunate than ours will be.
So this Christmas why not incorporate those people into your world too. It's not hard, it can just come down to making a purchase that makes a difference. A purchase that is not just a plastic toy made in some fast-moving goods warehouse, or a fashion garment made in an unethical factory. Make a purchase that has more than material value and give a gift that keeps on giving.
Here are 10 ideas to get you started but there are plenty more ethical gifts out there if you spend that little extra time to look for them.
The gift of medical care
In rural Ethiopia many women have little or no access to medical care during childbirth. If a woman faces complications with childbirth and if labour becomes obstructed she can be left with a fistula, causing permanent incontinence. Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia has been providing Ethiopian women access to healthcare for over 40 years, and since then over 45,000 women have received free treatment for childbirth complications.
You can give the gift of medical care this Christmas with one of Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia's gifts from the heart - beautiful cards either delivered to your door or in the form of an e-card. Each card supports the work of Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia, helping to restore the lives of women affected by Obstetric fistula.
The gift of empowerment
This entirely Khmer run organisation in Cambodia has been empowering communities in rural Siem Reap since 2011, when a group of locals saw an opportunity to provide education to the people living in their commune. Human and Hope Association is an example that empowerment can come from within and with a little help that empowerment can have a ripple affect on others.
Human and Hope Association runs various programs in their community including projects focused on education, vocational training and community development. Give the gift of empowerment this year by purchasing one of these adorable Elephants and provide a month of English classes to a child so they can increase their future job and study opportunities.
The gift of inspiration
Give your friends the gift of inspiration this Christmas with this motivational true story by the founder of Thankyou, a social enterprises that exists to give 100% of profits to help end global poverty, through the sale of their consumer products. The sales of the Thankyou book titled "You have the power to change stuff" - Chapter One, is raising money to help end global poverty and support the worldwide impact of Thankyou.
What's great about this book is that you can pay whatever retail price you want. The Thankyou team are reinventing retail and allowing you to pay what you think this book, or movement as a whole, is worth. So far they have managed to raise over 1.6 million dollars with the sales of over 68,000 books, all purchased by generous individuals willing to be part of a global impact. Whether you're wanting to support this great cause, or just looking for a little inspiration to start your own philanthropic journey, this book is a wonderful purchase.
The gift of animal welfare
Give the gift of animal welfare this year by supporting the work of International Animal Rescue, an organisation saving animals from suffering around the world. Some of their projects include caring for dancing bears in India, rescuing primates from captivity in Indonesia and sterilising and vaccinating stray dogs and cats in developing countries. All this work is supported by generous donors, which is why this christmas gift holds a lot more than material value.
IAR has a number of appeals happening at the moment including Slow Loris rescue and animal adoption. When you adopt an animal you receive an online information pack, including a photo, certificate and fact sheet, as well as monthly updates on how your animal is doing. Adoptions and donations can be sent as a gift so why not give the gift of animal welfare this year, I'm sure Monti will be very happy.
The gift of sanitation
You might be thinking that toilet paper isn’t exactly high on the Christmas wish list for most people, but hey, it’s an essential, and it could make for a pretty funny yet useful Christmas present. The reason I’ve added this item to the list is because this toilet paper is no ordinary toilet paper. This toilet paper is changing lives.
Who Gives A Crap donates 50% of all their profits to help build toilets for those in need because, alarmingly, 2.3 billion people across the world don't have access to a toilet. So far the organisation has donated over $400,000 to help fund hygiene and sanitation projects around the world. After you’ve explained the story behind the toilet paper I’m sure your gift will mean much more.
The gift of water
A drink bottle is always a very useful gift, and they’re so ‘in’ right now because having a drink bottle makes you an eco-warrior, preventing unsustainable plastic water bottles entering our environment. The Bottle for Botol drink bottles not only make you an eco-warrior, but a global citizen as well, allowing you to contribute to a program that provides access to water and education to the people of Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia.
The unique bottles are printed with a design chosen from hundreds of student entries in the Bottle for Botol design competition. Attached to it is a hand-written note, a Symbol of Friendship from a student in Indonesia thanking you for your contribution. Purchase one of these bottles for the perfect Christmas gift this year.
Image credit - http://www.bottleforbotol.org/
The gift of hope
Haiti has had a pretty tough year. Hurricane Matthew left over 35,000 people homeless, some of whom were still suffering from the after effects of the Haiti Earthquake back in 2010. Hope for Haiti works to improve the quality of life for the Haitian people, particularly children, through education, nutrition and healthcare.
The organisation has an online shop where you can purchase a range of fair trade gifts with the sales benefiting community development initiatives and investing in the livelihoods of the Haitian people, particularly women striving to make a difference for their families.
One popular gift is the Cooking With Carmene cookbook that features a number of Haitian recipes. All proceeds go to supporting this wonderful cause.
The gift of agriculture
Caritas is a renowned charity organisation that supports people and communities from all over the world. Caritas Australia has over 170 long-term development projects across the globe, and you can support some of their work by purchasing one of their online Christmas cards.
Send a message to your loved one and help to spread the message that we’re all part of one global family. The gift of agriculture empowers communities to produce sustainable crops, providing essential food and livelihoods for families.
The gift of fairness
Oxfam has a huge range of gifts for sale, and they’re all ethical. From India, to Cambodia and all around the world, Oxfam’s gifts come from local artisans and are all fair trade, meaning the people who make the products you buy have set their own prices and are not getting exploited by greedy multinationals.
Choose from a wide range of products including home décor, toys, fashion, kitchenware and even ethical Christmas cards. Every purchase you make through Oxfam goes towards fighting poverty and injustice around the world.
*In the spirit of full disclosure, this is an affiliate link, which means that I may get a commissions if you decide to purchase anything from Oxfam. I only recommend products & systems that I trust to be ethical and love myself, so I know you’ll be in good hands.
The gift of opportunity
Kiva is an online lending platform that gives you the chance to make a loan to people in more than 80 countries so they can start businesses, go to school and improve life for their families. In many countries it is difficult to obtain a loan, however, Kiva is reshaping access to financial services around the world and, on average, lenders crowdfund around $2.5 million in loans each week, providing opportunity for people who need it most.
When you purchase a Kiva Card you provide a loan that changes someones life. When their loans are repaid, you can use those funds again and again to make even more loans on Kiva. Introduce your loved ones to this cause with a gift from Kiva. It's truly the gift that keeps on giving.