GIFTING THE GOALS: 10 IDEAS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO THE SDGS | ANITA MENDIRATTA & Associates
Like millions and millions across the world counting down to year-end, we at AM&M are beginning to wind down our pre-holiday business operations. Finishing up projects, trying to get those last to-dos ticked off the list, and planning our schedules for the year ahead. In the spirit of gift giving, my joining the firm this year was possibly the best gift I was given in 2019. (Thank you universe.) It’s been a gift of knowledge, empowerment, mentorship, and direction. There have been days of failure, mistakes, and lessons learned the hard way, but they’ve all contributed to the journey in positive ways. The Living the SDGs project, in particular, has inspired a forgotten passion within me. I can’t wait to see where it goes, and in what ways we as a firm can contribute, in 2020. I think I can speak for Anita, and all of us at AM&A, in saying that we hope you end the year in happiness, surrounded by love, and with the knowledge that you have the power to change the world.
It’s that time of year again. Twinkling lights strung across streets and shops and doorways. Store shelves lined with sweets and other goodies, heftily consumed in the spirit of the season. Joyful tunes waft through the air, bringing smiles to all who come in contact with the merry melodies.

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

1. Basic Washbag for Refugees (Choose Love)

 

Goal 3: Good Health and Wellbeing, Goal 5: Gender Equality, Goal 10: Reduced Inequality
Choose Love is the world’s first store where you can purchase real gifts for refugees. They sell practical items such as toothpaste and diapers as well as services such as language courses and legal support. Instead of taking the items you purchase home – a similar item is given to a person who needs it. 

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

 

2. a year of school (IRC)

In 2017 alone, the International Rescue Committee helped to educate 1.14 million children around the world. Giving a ‘Year of School’ gift ensures that a child receives school fees, books, and other supplies to attend school for one year. 

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

 

Goal 1: No Poverty, Goal 4: Quality Education, Goal 5: Gender Equality, Goal 10: Reduced Inequality

3. handmade yi ring from china (UNDP/Homemade Collection)

There are 40 million people in China from ethnic minority groups living in extreme poverty. Yunnan province is home to several of these, including the Yi people. Mass production in the province has replaced many traditional products and handicrafts with cheap reproductions, leaving the Yi community struggling to maintain their traditions and way of life. 

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

Goal 1: No Poverty, Goal 4: Quality Education, Goal 5: Gender Equality, Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth, Goal 10: Reduced Inequality

4. the elephant bike (Cycle of Good)

Having reliable transportation can make all the difference for communities living in poverty. A simple bicycle can change someone’s life, giving them access to employment opportunities or education that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to access. 

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

 

Goal 1: No Poverty, Goal 4: Quality Education, Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth, Goal 10: Reduced Inequality, Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

5. Feed a child for an entire school year (Mary’s Meals)

64 million of the world’s hungriest children do not attend school. For those who do attend, hunger severely affects their ability to learn. Mary’s Meals aims to fill the gap with their one goal – that every child receives a nutritious daily meal in a place of education. 

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

Goal 1: No Poverty, Goal 2: No Hunger Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being, Goal 4: Quality Education, Goal 10: Reduced Inequality

6. advent calendar of change (Advent of Change)

Advent calendars have become extremely popular. No longer reserved for small chocolates or tokens, now you can get a gin a day or luxury bath products behind every door. Advent of Change is an advent calendar, just not as you know it. 

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

the SDGs as a whole, specific goals are dependent on the chosen charities.

7. life vest laptop sleeve (Makers Unite)

In 2016, 5000 discarded life-vests were used to create a display in Amsterdam, sparking nationwide conversation about the refugee crisis. Makers Unite, a social enterprise in the Dutch city, has grown from that movement. 

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

 

Goal 4: Quality Education, Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth, Goal 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, Goal 10: Reduced Inequality, Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

8.  A waterpump (Wateraid)

Perhaps a waterpump isn’t the first thing you’d think of giving someone, but for the 790 million people who don’t have access to an adequate water supply, a simple waterpump can be life-changing. 

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

 

Goal 1: No Poverty, Goal 4: Quality Education, GOAL 6: Clean Water and Sanitation, Goal 10: Reduced Inequality

9. organic cotton hoodie (Ninety Percent)

Goal 1: No Poverty, Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth, Goal 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, Goal 10: Reduced Inequality, Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
Fashion isn’t always thought of as the most sustainable gift to give, but Ninety Percent is working to change that. Based in London, the company donates 90% of their profits to charitable causes such as War Child and Wild Aid. 

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

10. mudlug backpack (Mudlug)

 

After learning that many children in foster care are moved with only a bin bag to hold their belongings, Dave Linton, founder of Madlug,  decided he needed to help. While he couldn’t save them from violence, neglect or abuse – he could make sure these vulnerable children made their way into a new chapter with dignity. 

‘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

 

Goal 10: Reduced Inequality, Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
We hope these ideas inspire your holiday giving year-round. If you prefer shopping in a brick and mortar store, or if that small person in your life has a very specific request, consider shopping at locally owned stores that support your community. Recycle or reuse wrapping paper, or get creative by using old fabric or other materials that otherwise would’ve gone to waste. Finally, while contributing to the SDGs through your giving is a wonderful way that individuals can take action, don’t forget that the best gift we can give each other is love.