Gifts for our loved ones that also help repurpose waste, benefit people in need, get back to basics, and even possibly help to save the planet ... How is that not a win-win? Here are just a few of our favorite innovative, socially and environmentally beneficial gift ideas that will help you truly celebrate this season of giving, by ...
Saving the planet:
- We all know the plight of the world’s bee population is a plight for just about everyone. While environmentalists and various brands and organizations are determined to help save them, San Francisco-based honey wine brand Bee d'Vine, which makes its wine from water and orange blossom honey sourced from family beekeepers throughout California, is also doing its part: For every bottle sold, the company contributes to honeybee research organization Project Apis m, as well as to its own Bee D'Vine Hives Fund which, according to its website, helps converts inefficient, traditional beehives into modern ones that can produce up to 10 times more honey. Bee d’Vine is offering a 2014 holiday discount of 15% with the discount code "2014HOLIDAY."
Getting back to basics:
- The North Face’s Backyard Hoodie: In collaboration with Fibershed (which supports the creation of local textile cultures that enhance ecological balance), Foxfibre® and the Sustainable Cotton Project, The North Face designed its soft, comfortable with the goal of sourcing and manufacturing a product a within 150 miles of its headquarters in Alameda, California.
- A Timbuk2 bag: Not only are bags from this San Francisco company locally and durably made and protected by a lifetime warranty, the company has taken a comprehensive approach to extending the life of its bags through the Timbuk2 Life Cycle program — customers now have multiple ways to reduce, reuse, repair, recycle, and reimagine their bags at the end of their useful life.
- Natural skin care and beauty products: For those who love to be pampered but would rather not slather themselves in chemicals they can’t pronounce, try Anita’s Balm — a home-brewed miracle moisturizer that also relieves psoriasis and excema; DIY kits from Silk + Honey, complete with the recipe, tools and all necessary ingredients for making your own body or hand cream, hair mask or lip balm; or non-toxic cosmetics and skin care from Tata Harper (which, according to the company’s clever holiday video, are literally good enough to eat).
Cleaning up our oceans and beaches through upcycling:
- While more and more companies are finding amazing ways to help tackle the world’s pervasive plastic problem, Thread — one of our favorite finalists from the 2013 SB Innovation Open — continues to spin thousands of tons of plastic bottle waste from Haiti into local jobs and fabric, which now lines a stylish collection of bags, made with partner Moop.
- Meanwhile, a startup called Bureo (which recently got a healthy infusion of capital from Patagonia’s $20 Million & Change fund) is collecting discarded fishing nets littering the beaches in Chile and upcycling them into skateboard decks; and Dutch brand Star Sock is turning nets gathered round the world by the Healthy Seas Initiative into yarn, which it incorporates into its Healthy Seas socks.
Benefiting people in need:
- Give the gift of a decadent summer hangout spot while supporting artisans in rural Thailand with a Yellow Leaf Hammock
- Give people throughout the developing world the gift of clean water when you buy your own delicious beverages from TOMS Coffee, SOMA or Wine to Water
- Give the gift of play to someone you love — and to a needy child: Winner of the 2011 SB Innovation Open, One World Futbol (recently re-christened One World Play Project) developed a virtually indestructible, non-inflated soccer ball, which far outlasts conventional balls and stands up to harsh conditions, allowing kids around the world to continue engaging in the transformative power of play. For every ball you buy, the company — which now also produces cricket balls — donates a second ball to organizations working with youth in disadvantaged communities around the world.
- Light up the lives of many with small, smart, solar-powered lighting solutions from BR!GHT Products. The Norwegian company creates affordable, off-grid power solutions, partners with CARE to help create job opportunities for women in developing countries, and provides lamps for CARE’s educational programs for girls in Afghanistan. Choose from The SunBell — which works as a reading lamp, a ceiling lamp, a flashlight and a mobile charger — and the Sun Turtle, a small, solar-powered reading lamp that can use a standard soda bottle as a lamp stand (and comes with a "FlexFoot" for use on tables or to fix the lamp to the wall or ceiling) — perfect for blackouts or camping trips.
- Give the gift of nutrition with 2 degrees bars: The company is on a mission to feed the 200 million children around the world who will go to bed hungry tonight. Since 2011, 2 degrees has donated over 1.3 million meals in the US and abroad, based on sales of their healthy food bars.
- And if you think your loved ones already have enough 'stuff,' support people in need in their honor through sites such as Heifer International, provide a risk-free small business loan to an entrepreneur across the world through Kiva, or give gifts of experience, time and skill from the SoKind registry (a hold-over from last year’s Gift Guide).
Upcycled … and benefiting people in need:
- Bags and accessories from Sword & Plough — this “quadruple bottom line” company (people, purpose, planet and profit), has three main goals: to empower and employ military veterans as sewers and manufacturers; to reduce waste and use only upcycled military surplus material; to use fashion to strengthen civil-military understanding.
- BlueAvocado’s Say Yes collection — Best known for its (re)ziptm family of reusable products aimed at minimizing the use of disposables, BlueAvocado last year joined forces with Open Arms, an organization that offers living-wage employment to women who’ve survived war, to create Say Yes, an collection of accessories made from reclaimed fabrics, sewn in Austin, Texas, by these resilient women.
- Luv Seat products from Southwest AIrlines — As part of a multi-year environmental program, the airline has committed to upcycle 80,000 former seat covers from its planes into new leather products including bags, soccer balls and sandals; in addition to keeping these materials out of a landfill, the production and distribution of the products are providing training and jobs for young adults in several communities across Kenya.