Your kids have given you their Christmas lists and you have some ideas for friends and family. It’s about time to hit the mall but you’re torn – give in to the pressure to buy like crazy or think outside the box for meaningful, ethically made gifts.
Buying products that have been produced by people who are paid fairly for their work, that promote a sustainable future for the world and improve the standard of living for people in impoverished communities by providing them with better access to healthcare and education is a winning proposition for manufacturers and consumers alike.
If you’re stuck for ideas, here are some we came up with.
Babies and toddlers
Activity mats made from ethically produced and dyed fabrics and filling materials are a good alternative to store bought mats containing nonorganic cotton and toxic inks and dyes. Think about all the tummy time babies spend on the floor. It would be nice to know that they are not spending all those hours on toxic surfaces.
Clothing made from organic cotton is a must for babies these days. It’s widely known that cotton is one of the most pesticide-laden crops grown. Make clothing out of it and your kids are wearing those pesticides on their skin all day long. Ethically made, certified organic clothing is just as cute and widely available as conventionally produced factory clothing. Gifting organic baby clothes to nieces and nephews might start an ethically produced fashion trend in the family!
Wooden toys like doll houses, work benches and push-and-pull toys that are made in third world countries by ethically-minded companies are good alternatives to those made in unregulated factories abroad. Toys made from organic wood and painted with vegetable dyes make safe alternatives to those made from toxic woods and paints. No need to worry about little mouths finding their way to parts and handles. Read labels to ensure safety.
Launch a quick online search for ethically sourced toy companies and you’ll come up with ones like Cuddle and Kind. It sells ethically produced hand-knit dolls made by artisans in Peru. The company also provides ten meals for kids in impoverished countries for every doll sold.
The 100-Mile child is a Toronto-based company that sources ethically made toys for kids age 0 to 8. Check out the cute puppet making kit that includes reclaimed wool (sourced from second-hand sweaters), nose and eye pieces and a needle and thread. Choose from a dog, unicorn or giraffe.
If you’re looking for something sweet to put into a Christmas stocking, try fair trade treats made from fair trade chocolate and candy that contain no GMOs, artificial flavours and colours, dairy, wheat, lactose, gluten and nuts. Many are available in traditional holiday shapes like Santa, reindeer and candy canes.
Your brother has enough ball caps and your mom’s closet is bursting with nightgowns. A little thinking outside the box can yield gifts for family members that they will treasure and appreciate how you chose to spend your money. A bottle of fair trade wine might become a new favourite for the aficionado in the family.
Pocket diaries, journals, calendars and greeting cards are popular ethically produced items from all corners of the world. I know I have my eye on a particular eco-friendly, ethically sourced yoga mat bag (in case any of my family members are reading)!
This year, skip the mall and purchase gifts that help people make better lives for themselves and their families. Those on your list will receive something unique and you’ll feel good about where your dollars went.