7 Ethical Holiday Gift Ideas That Will Impress Your Friends

Use my ethical holiday gift ideas to take the guesswork out of doing good.


1. Buy fair trade products.

As you check off the boxes on your holiday shopping list, it’s important to consider exactly where the gifts you buy are from and how they’re made. Look for the Fair Trade Certified seal as you shop—it’s a simple way to promote fair wages and safe working conditions. Even a gift as small as a piece of chocolate can be problematic, as this child labor report from Green America proves. That’s why I do a happy dance when I see fair trade chocolate in my stocking—I can indulge in peace, knowing my sweet tooth fix was ethically sourced.

2. Use an alternative to traditional gift wrap.

I confess: I love shiny, decorative patterned gift wrap, but it can be incredibly wasteful. Most people use it once and throw it away. Try a newspaper, recyclable paper, or a repurposed bag instead, and you’ll reduce holiday season waste.

3. Give an experience.

More and more research suggests that people are more satisfied with experiences than things. Plus, does your mom really need another candle? By gifting an experience, you are reducing consumption and saving an unneeded item from the trash.

4. Reduce your waste at holiday parties.

When planning for holiday meals with loved ones, it can be tempting to go overboard—the more pie the better, right? But by putting careful thought into the amount of food at your holiday parties, you avoid contributing to the major global problem of food waste. Another way to care for the environment this holiday season is to skip plastic plates and utensils, no matter how convenient they might be.

5. Volunteer together instead of doing a gift extravaganza.

Not only does choosing to volunteer save you money, but it also adds a bit of perspective to your holiday season and can provide a memorable experience with people you care about. One of my most meaningful holiday memories involved zero gifts. I got together with some friends over hot chocolate to write letters to human trafficking survivors.

6. Request a charitable donation in lieu of a traditional gift.

Instead of sending a holiday wish list, just send Santa a link to your favorite cause on GlobalGiving! At the end of the day, I’m going to remember helping girls receive a quality education in Peru and rehabilitating rhinos in South Africa more than receiving another pair of holiday-themed pajamas (don’t worry, mom, I’ll still wear them when I come home this year).

7. Buy your friend or family member a GlobalGiving Gift Card.

The GlobalGiving Gift Card is a passport to thousands of projects in 170+ countries. When you share this gift with a loved one, they can redeem it at whatever GlobalGiving project they like the best. My co-worker’s daughter picks a project that helps zebras, year after year! Find out what causes resonate with your friends and families. I hope something on my list of ethical holiday gift ideas resonates with you!

Give the gift of giving today.


Featured Photo: Educate 100 Rescued Girl Child Labourers by Bangalore Rural Educational and Development Society (BREADS)

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