In the run-up to Christmas, shopping and mass-consumerism is all the rage.
In the US, Black Friday and Cyber Monday see massive sales taking place in the days after Thanksgiving. Whilst they are an opportunity to buy Christmas gifts for family and friends, the shopping days are not without their dramas. Just search “Black Friday Fights” on YouTube.
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This has led to a backlash within retail. For instance, Buy Nothing Day takes place on the same day as Black Friday. Instead of excessive consumption, it calls for people to “lock up your wallets and purses, cut up your credit cards.”
Some retailers take part in Giving Tuesday, the day after Cyber Monday, which encourages people to donate to charities. This year, Google added a donate button to search results to encourage donation.
If you’re looking for a holiday gift with a charitable slant, then you can turn to ethical gifts. Whether it’s a goat for a family or safe water for a whole village, this present will be going to a good cause.
Ethical gifts to give this year
1. Lend With Care
This isn’t so much a gift, but a voucher. You can choose a voucher value, starting at £15 to £150+ and then gift it to your intended person. They can then choose to lend the money to an entrepreneur somewhere in the world, through Lend With Care’s peer-to-peer microfinancing platform.
For instance, Sokunthea Eat in Cambodia is looking for a loan to buy more farming land for her family. Or Olivia in Malwai runs a clothing business and she wants a loan to buy more stock. The profits from her sales will pay her children’s school feeds.
Once your recipient decides where to send the money, they will receive updates on how their loan’s business is growing. The loan is repaid in installments, which will be credited to the Lend With Care account. Once its repaid, you can either withdraw the money or choose it to loan to another entrepreneur.
2. Oxfam Unwrapped
Oxfam has been running its Oxfam Unwrapped charity gifts scheme since 2004 and says it has delivered hundreds of thousands of gifts including goats, chickens and safe water to people around the world.
One Oxfam Unwrapped present could be a goat power couple for a family, for £52. The goats will provide milk, manure and kids for the family. Or £100 will provide safe water for 100 people through supporting Oxfam’s Water for All projects.
3. Pregnancy Twinning
If you have a pregnant lady in your life, then you can twin her pregnancy with a mother in Malawi or Nigeria. Rolled out through Chasing Zero with the charity Tearfund partnering, £42 covers the cost of maternal health care for one mum.
The mum will receive help getting to antenatal checks, pregnancy advice, and support, the chance to give birth at a clinic, visits for six months after the birth and access to antiretroviral treatment if she is living with HIV.
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The twin will also receive a certificate with her twin gives birth too.
4. Present Aid
Similar to Oxfam Unwrapped, Present Aid is run through the charity Christian Aid. You can choose ethical gifts here such as pay for a lawyer for a month for Columbians fighting to prevent their land being sold off to palm oil companies. Alternatively, £50 could be enough for a farmer in Mali to build a granary to store their crops for market.
Prices start from as low as £6 for sunflower seeds for a family up to £150 for a cow for a family.
As part of Unicef’s work with children around the world, it also offers ethical gifts through the Unicef market. Efforts are particularly concentrated on the Syrian refugee work the charity is doing. For example, £35 will give a Syrian child a set of warm winter clothing, such as a hat, scarf, trousers, jacket, and boots. Or £155 will pay for a “school in a box” to help 40 children. This will provide books, a solar-powered radio, pencils and the box it comes in doubles up as a blackboard.
As well, Unicef’s online shop also sells handmade gifts and jewellery, with the profits going to the charity’s work.
6. Choose Love
If you’re doing gift shopping in London this year, check out the Choose Love store in Soho. Created by the creative collective, Glimpse, you don’t take home any of the items in the store. Instead, you pay for products to be sent to refugees across the world. It could be emergency blankets, school bags, and medical equipment.
The funds raised from Choose Love will go to the UK-based charity Help Refugees to support their work in Europe and the Middle East.
Choose Love is based at 18 Broadwick Street, Soho, W1F 8HS. The store is open daily until 31 January 2018.