This time of year touches all of us, regardless of religion or background or age. It brings magic and wonderment to small children and warm cosiness to those of us lucky enough to spend the days with family and friends.
It’s also the time of year that many of us shop the sales, peruse the malls, and meander down the high street in hopes of finding that perfect gift (or gifts) for those we love and hold dear. It becomes almost a game, an obstacle course, trolling crowds and Amazon for that last-minute special something.
It gets out of hand quickly. I’m guilty. Two kids and not seeing my family near enough, those wrapped boxes, tied with ribbons of love and good intentions, quickly add up to mountainous piles, that at a point, seem to lose their meaning.
We’ve spent the last six months talking about the Sustainable Development Goals. What they are, where they came from, and ways that we can contribute as individuals to specific goals such as 1. No Poverty and 2. No Hunger. While we haven’t yet touched on it in-depth, Goal 12 is Responsible Consumption and Production. I wonder, are we consuming responsibly in our moments of giving?
In the UK alone, 100,000 tonnes of plastic packaging will be thrown away. Two million turkeys will be eaten. And 100 sq km of wrapping paper will be torn and crumbled into piles across the country.
The thing is, I love giving presents. That smile on someone’s face when you’ve chosen that ‘perfect’ gift for them. That warm embrace and shared moment of giving. I don’t think that we need to stop buying presents, and wrapping them in pretty paper, but I do think we can be more mindful of what we buy and the purpose behind it.
With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of ten gift ideas that contribute to the SDGs. Some are material, some are more donation focused, but all of them have purpose. We encourage you to use this list of gifts that contribute to the SDGs as a starting point in your gift giving. We’ve said it all along: small steps, small actions, can add up to making a global difference. As 2019 winds to a close, let us end the year thinking about how we can make those moments of giving – moments of action and purpose that change the world for the better.
10 Christmas Gift Ideas that COntribute to the SDGs
We’ve chosen the basic washbag as our top pick. It includes toothpaste, soap, shampoo and sanitary products – items nobody should go without. In the words of Choose Love, “This gift isn’t just about hygiene, it’s about helping people to maintain a sense of dignity in harsh environments.”
You can visit a Choose Love shop at one of their locations in London, New York City, and Los Angeles. Gifts can also be purchased from their online store. Price: £10
According to the IRC, “A safe learning environment in places like Nigeria and Syria can provide children with a sense of predictability, protection from violence, and a safe place to heal from trauma. Being in a classroom gives children hope as they continue to learn and plan for a brighter future.”
A Year of School can be purchased from the IRC’s Rescue Gifts online store. You have the option of getting a printed card for your recipient that explains what a difference was made for children around the world on their behalf. Price: $58
The UNDP, United Nations Development Programme has partnered with Yi artisans, as well as communities around the world, to keep them out of poverty. The handmade Yi ring not only features beautiful traditional embroidery of the skilled Yi artisans, but the purchase also helps support the local women with new crafting, budgeting and marketing skills.
The handmade Yi ring can be purchased from the UNDP Homemade Collection online shop. Price: $19.99
Cycle of Good is part of a social enterprise that works with a community in Malawi with a simple goal: to end poverty. They employ ten Malawian tailors full-time, with plans to expand to a team of 100. The enterprise uses unwanted or waste products from the UK and turns them to profit. The larger charity employs over 500 people, providing them with training, benefits, and salaries three times higher than the national minimum wage.
For every bike purchased through Cycle of Good, one bike is given to a local in the community. The Mammoth Elephant bike comes complete with accessories, all sustainably made from recycled materials. It can be purchased online from their website. Price: £365
Mary’s Meals runs school feeding programmes in 18 countries, all owned and run by local volunteers in the community. Wherever possible, ingredients for the meals are locally sourced, supporting the local community and wider economy.
Giving the gift of a daily meal can change a child’s future. Your gift can be purchased through the official Mary’s Meals website. Price: £13.90
For every purchase, the money is divided between 24 charities. Every day, instead of a sweet treat, your recipient finds out which charity they helped that day and how the money might be used for change. In 2018, Advent of Change raised over £100,000 for their chosen charities through advent calendar sales. The impact included rebuilding a primary school destroyed during a storm in Burundi, providing training to 275 women living in poverty in West Bengal, India and providing more families in the UK with accommodation to be near dying loved ones in hospice care.
An advent calendar that gives everyday, that’s 24 gifts in one. Proof that small actions can make a big impact. Price: £29.95
Through a six week program, Makers Unite provides refugees and newcomers with training, support and guidance within the Dutch creative industry – eventually connecting them with traineeships or employment opportunities.
The life vest collection helps fund these initiatives, travel accessories created from discarded life vests, all handmade by the refugees themselves. An object that once was a reminder of the trials they had to endure is now “granting the fabric a new identity as an ongoing symbol of hope. “
The Life Vest Laptop Sleeve can be purchased from Makers Unite online shop. Price: €39
WaterAid helps provide access to clean water, toilets, and hygiene to families and communities around the globe lacking these basic human necessities. It isn’t just about the water. Having access to clean water gives children in poor villages freedom to go to school (instead of walking miles a day to fetch water), it improves infant mortality, decrease deaths caused by water-related illnesses and diarrhea, and increases productivity.
Watch this video to see what an impact a waterpump can have on a community:
Giving a pump will provide cleaner and easier access to water for a whole community. The waterpump can be purchased in the Wateraid Shop for Life and includes a personalised card for your recepient. Price: £37
All clothing is ‘pared back, luxury basics’, that won’t go out of style. Ninety Percent has championed the #DressBetter movement, an initiative that hopes to get consumers to challenge poor working conditions in the fashion industry. We especially love the interviews they do with the workers who make their clothes, such as Nurjahan, a sample operator in Bangladesh.
The organic cotton oversized hoodie is available in five colours and is a staple piece anyone would love. Purchase in Ninety Percent’s online shop. Price: £105
‘No child should carry their life in a bin bag.’
For every backpack you buy, one is given to a child in foster care. The backpacks are manufactured with a supplier who upholds high ethical standards, use sustainable materials, and focus on their environmental impact.
Backpacks can be purchased from Madlug’s online shop. Price: £65