Product, Service & Design Innovation
For All the Conscientious Consumers in Your Life:
SB's 2016 Holiday Gift Guide

Gifts for our loved ones that also help repurpose waste, benefit people in need, expand the next generation's horizons, and overall provide alternative to "products as usual" ... How is that not a win-win? Here are just a few of our favorite socially and environmentally beneficial gift ideas that will help you celebrate this season of giving (and spending) with a clear conscience.

For the ethical footwear enthusiast in your life …

We recommend shoes from a couple of startups looking to revolutionize the industry’s approach to designing and manufacturing footwear. First, Allbirds wool trainers – these ultra-light, “most comfortable shoes imaginable” are made with all-natural materials, including moisture-wicking Merino wool uppers that minimize odor and keep feet warm in winter and dry in summer, and polyurethane soles made from castor beans. And Portugal’s Po-Zu makes a line of shoes and boots using a glueless construction for easier disassembly and repair, so that the main components can be removed pretty much intact, and focuses on natural materials, such as waste coconut husk – the shock-absorbing qualities of which make an ideal material for shoe soles. And top off your sustainable feet with OSOM Brand socks, made from upcycled denim and clothing waste (holiday sale - get three pairs for $30: enter coupon code xmas2016).

Speaking of eliminating waste, here are a bunch of handy gift ideas …

For the anti-waste crusader in your life …

Think upcycled bags from San Francisco’s Mafia Bags and the UK’s Elvis & Kresse – made from sailboat sails and kites, and fire hoses, respectively (Elvis & Kresse also donates 50% of its profits to the Fire Fighters Charity). And introspective sustainability enthusiasts can log their thoughts in a journal from Kapdaa, covered with offcut textiles from the fashion and home furnishings industries.

Saving the world from waste can build up an appetite, so great stocking stuffers include snacks from Barnana - made from organic, dehydrated, “ugly” bananas; chutneys and relishes from UK-based Rubies in the Rubble, which salvages surplus produce (20% off online orders in December - enter #RELISHCHRISTMAS at checkout!); or Regrained bars - made from spent grain from the beer-making process; and Toast Ale, a pale ale made from surplus bread, is perfect for washing them down.

For the budding badass in your life …

Some of our favorite gifts to keep your favorite kids’ minds active and engaged include Goldieblox – a range of toy sets that teaches girls critical STEM skills in a fun and engaging way; and the new Ready-to-Gift sets from Back to the Roots, great for teaching kids (and adults, too!) how to home-grow everything from mushrooms and tomatoes to a variety of herbs, right in your kitchen (enter SUSTAINABLEBRANDS10 at checkout for a 10% discount, valid through 1/31/17)!

And while your little ones are exercising their brains through hands-on play, dress them smartly, as well, with zero-waste clothing made from organic, traceable cotton clothing or deadstock fabrics from Beru Kids.

For the ethical fashionista in your life …

Honor his or her commitment to better-made apparel with items from startups that built their business models as the antithesis of fast fashion: For surfer boys and girls, check out Rapanui’s organic cotton t-shirts, sweatshirts and sweaters, made with renewable energy and a completely transparent supply chain; last year, the company saved so much money through various waste-reduction efforts that it dropped its prices. For environmentally conscious party girls, LA-based Reformation creates starlet-worthy fashion from deadstock fabrics - and its RefRecycling program allows customers free shipping of their gently used clothes, shoes and accessories for recycling and reuse.

Then, for those who value quality and longevity in their apparel, there’s 30-year T-shirts, jackets and sweatshirts (even Christmas sweatshirts!) from Tom Cridland; and handmade belts, wallets and watch straps from Equus Leather, all made to last a lifetime – the company offers free restitching and repair as needed.

And for those who prefer to make their own clothes, what better gift than ‘the most responsible fabric [and thread] on the planet,’ courtesy of Thread.

And for the social crusader in your life …

Get them delicious treats they can feel good about from Italian startup Algae Factory, which makes healthy chocolate bars, packed with spirulina for extra nutrition, that help support the African farming communities that produce the algae.

Accessories they can wear proudly include a line of guitar pick-inspired jewelry from Cords for Music, which helps fund music education in public schools; caps and scarves from Wooln, a NYC startup working to bring retirees back into the workforce – all of its products are hand-knitted by nine senior knitters, all women; and bags and backpacks made from surplus military fabric by Sword and Plough, which supports and creates veteran job opportunities within its own company and through its supply chain, as well as supporting veteran-owned businesses (the company offers a 20% discount to all U.S. active duty military personnel, National Guard members, Reservists, veterans, retired personnel and spouses).

And for reluctant philanthropists who want to ensure their money is making a difference, check out The Giving Box - a curated subscription donation service that makes giving to organizations you care about easier: Subscribers can fill their boxes with causes including public education, bigotry and racism, the environment, refugees, and a holiday box - which provides food to the hungry. With each subscription, you (or the recipient) receive a “virtual box” with updates and information from the organizations being supporting and other ways to get involved. Donations are made directly to the listed nonprofit organizations within each cause and are tax-deductible.

For more “better” gift ideas, check out our gift guides of holidays past – here, here and here.

Happy holidays from the SB team!

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