If there's one thing that could be better than buying a gift for someone, it would also be knowing that your purchase was doing social good in the world. But it can be hard to find the gifts that "give back" so tangibly. Fortunately, we've done all of the work for you this year!
There are many sites that connect shoppers around the world with artisans in impovershed countries. Local Lejos is one of the nicer ones that support artisans in Africa and Central America, among others. It provides income to the artisans and other benefits to their communities (like education), and help keeps cultural practices alive. For example, when you buy this Neri Tray, the artisan adds a chicken and a rabbit to her farm!
Tegu Blocks not only provides a great STEM gift for your child, you are buying an ethical gift, too. Tegu opted to create a for-profit business toy manufacturing business in Honduras that would help create world-class employment standards there. If that wasn't awesome enough, their wood is harvested responsibly and sustainably by local Honduran cooperatives.
Wee Urban's high-quality gear and accessories are made with "conscious" organic cotton and low-impact dyes. They're also hand-made right here, in Canada, supporting the local economy! Wee Urban contributes to several charities, including Sick Kids Hospital, the Lukemia Society of Canada, Meagans Walk, Oxfam, and the World Wildlife Fund.
Just One is like Local Lejos, but they're based in Canada! Just One buys the handmade items from artisans in Kenya and Uganda, giving them a living wage, and then also sends a portion of profits back to better the community.
Flash was inspired by Noah, a young boy that was diagnosed with Pompe disease back in 2011 at the age of two. Pompe disease is a rare genetic disease that affects muscle growth, and in Noah’s case, it means an enlarged heart. 100% of the proceeds from the sale of Flash will be donated to Starlight to continue to help brighten the lives of seriously ill kids, like Noah through in and out-of-hospital programs. Flash can be purchased at www.toyrus.ca and all participating Toys “R” Us stores across Canada.
Ubuntu Made products support the Maai Mahiu community - they're currently the largest employer of this relatively small group of people. In addition to helping bring living wages to the Maai Mahiu, they have a "happy factory" that's not just a job, it's a life and community. Ubuntu Made is also supporting RED in the fight against HIV this holiday season.
If you love the idea of Value Village, who retails donated items for various charity partners, Me to We is similar. They have partner communities that receive supplies, income, and medical treatment when you buy from Me to We's shop or at one of their partner locations like Staples. You can also track how your purchases impact someone else.
Want to give back closer to home? Ontario Social Enterprises has a gift guide for 2016 that promotes items that help put your money back into the local economy and the communities in which we live. There's also some regionally based charities and youth organizations that help fund services to those groups.
Have a little animal lover in your home? Or maybe if you just want to do your part for animal conservation, the WWF store's net proceeds go towards conservation efforts. And there are so very very many stuffies to choose from - but there are other toys and games too.
Better Life Bags got its start from a handmade diaper bag. After people asked her to make them one, too, Rebecca opened an ETSY shop. After business picked up, Rebecca hired Nadia to help sew, a woman originally from Yemen, and saw how her business was improving someone's economic status firsthand. Now Better Life Bags hires women who have employment barriers in Detroit, helping improve the economy and community there.