14 Awesome ethical gifts that can change the world
Shopping can be fun. There’s no denying the satisfaction that a little retail therapy can bring, especially if there’s a good bargain involved (we’re looking at you, Black Friday and Boxing Day sales).
It’s good to have a healthy appetite for shopping, it’s what keeps businesses of all shapes and sizes alive after all. As consumers, we hold considerable power to shape the retail landscape, and our choices can have a ripple effect - for better or worse.
There are many companies and individuals out there who are trying to make a difference, whether it’s innovating production, using high-spec materials made to last, or encouraging people to mend before they throw out and buy again.
Consuming responsibly (although it may sound like a total bore) is actually a fascinating exercise - you’ll uncover wonderful things with unique stories behind them.
So, this Christmas… Let’s buy things that are made to last; let’s buy used and pre-loved; let’s buy local; let’s support makers; let’s buy things that are responsibly sourced; let’s think outside the proverbial box and buy experiences that remind us how awesome life is.
Let’s start with 14 awesome ethical brands you can buy from that are aiming to change the world.
1. Patagonia Worn Wear
If there’s a brand that truly, passionately adheres to sustainability, it’s got to be Patagonia. It’s tough being a responsible retailer these days, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible and they show us how it’s done through their Patagonia Worn Wear programme. Making quality stuff that last longer and can be repaired, so that you don’t have to buy more of it. They say it’s the most responsible thing they can do as a brand - we certainly agree. These guys are also donating 100% of their profits made from Black Friday sales to grassroots environmental groups!
2. Tom Cridland
Mr Cridland knows a thing or two about fashion (he started designing at the age of 18) and in recent years he’s been busy building his eponymous label. His first quest was to create the perfect pair of trousers that were both affordable and high quality. His latest project involves a colourful collection of ethically sourced cotton crewneck sweatshirts with a 30-year guarantee.
Keeping your eyes peeled for a good bargain on kitchen appliances? Get the best bang for your buck with Dualit - their toasters, for instance, are built to literally last a lifetime. They’re fully repairable and are all made in the UK, hand-assembled by a human from start to finish.
For those driven by wanderlust, Millican bags make ‘sustainable bags for the conscious traveller.’ Based in the English countryside, they believe that “that using less makes for more – carrying only what you need frees you up to experience more in our global landscape.”
There are more and more local makers on Etsy, search by location and you’ll certainly find unique gifts, made by creative people just around the corner from you. They have great Christmas gift guides, too, which’ll help you along your hunt for prezzies.
6. Hiut Denim
“Do one thing well” is Hiut Denim’s ethos. And they do denim very, very well. Completely focused on creating jeans in a sustainable fashion plus getting their town to make jeans again, these guys and gals have our vote. Find the perfect pair for the denim aficionado in your tribe - there’s always one of them.
We have a lot of love for Fairphone. If there’s an industry that desperately needs a stronger sense of producing responsibly, it’s the electronics industry. Fairphone has created the first ethical, modular smartphone, taking steps towards building a product that puts people first. Help them spread the word this Christmas.
8. Veja Trainers
Folks over at Veja Trainers make trainers that are ecological and sustainable materials, but they have a bigger purpose and vision. They are moved by the strong sense of environmental and social responsibility that seems to be getting momentum around the world, but know that actions speak louder than words. Driven by their “Zero Zero” policy, they don’t partake in advertising, run a tight ship when it comes to production and treat CO2 reduction as a priority.
9. Adidas shoes from ocean plastic
It’s not just independent business and individuals attempt to make a difference. Even sports giants such as Adidas have launched an environmentally friendly design initiative, making shoes from ocean plastic. Representing a real change in pace and vision for the brand, the shoe is a lot more than just an advertising gimmick.
11. Do Lectures
The Do Lectures have a very simple formula: ideas and energy equate to tangible change. Forget the awkward and impersonal exchanges over a bad cup of coffee - these guys know that experiencing things as a community is far more impactful for both lecturers and attendees. From manifestos, to posters, books and unique lectures that have the power to transform, this is a thoughtful gift to give.
Alastair Humphreys, the man behind Microadventures, will move you to get up and experience something new. As a professional adventurer, he has over 17 years of experience traversing the world, and offers to help you plan your own adventure via Skype or email for a very reasonable fee.
13. Volunteer Travel Voucher
An experience of a lifetime, such as travelling abroad, can help us widen our view of the world that we live in. This is especially the case when you spend your time away volunteering for a good cause. Responsible Travel offers loads of different packages for volunteer travel, including marine conservation in Malaysia, or helping turtles thrive in Costa Rica.
14. fforest Gather
Mainstream festivals not really your thing? We’re already planning our summer, and we came across fforest Gather - two weeks of adventures in nature, with music, workshops and an opportunity to create. With only 500 tickets available, it’s guaranteed to be intimate and special. A great gift for the whole family.
We hope you've found something different here to gift your loved ones this holiday season! This is only a jumping off point - there are so many more business trying to do things right. During Black Friday sales, let's remember that there are brands who can help us shop responsibly, so let's support them!
And of course, if you're into fixing and making the things you already have and love better (or know someone who does), you can check out our shop too!