We are right in the middle of the holiday season and if you are anything like me, you like to look for gifts that give back, do good, or make the earth smile, all while looking good, functioning well, and making a statement.
So during this 2011 holiday season, whether you’re shopping for your best friend, the guy who has everything, the at-work gift exchange, or your great-grandmother, here are some ideas for every budget.
My picks for the Top 10 Holiday Gift Ideas for Eco-friendly, Do-gooders, Yogi-types, and the Occasional Hippie or Hipster:
1 • MEND
Handcrafted Bags $75
A project of the wildly effective social group, Invisible Children, Mend is a social enterprise geared toward facilitating financial independence and development for vulnerable women in northern Uganda. Mend works with 17 seamstresses to produce high quality bags designed to make a personal connection between products, their makers and consumers. By providing the seamstresses of Mend with more marketable and economically beneficial outlets for their skills, Mend has helped reduce poverty, truly improving the livelihoods of some of the most vulnerable in northern Uganda.
Grow Your Own Mushroom Garden $19.95
I first heard of this company through a food-blogger friend, and have been hooked ever since (A couple of these are already wrapped and under the tree at our house). Founded in 2009, Back To The Roots in 2011 alone has collected and reused around 1 million pounds of coffee grounds for their mushroom kits, helped families grow over 250,000 pounds of fresh food at home, and sustained 10 urban community gardens with donations. Great for the entire family!
3 • JADE YOGA
“Nature’s Best Yoga Mats” $69.95
Being a yoga student and instructor, my mat is like a second home. Through the years I have tried different styles, colors, materials, and companies, and never felt settled until I recently found Jade. These mats not only are the best in non-slip performance and comfort, but they are also one of the most eco-friendly mats I have found. Jade mats are made with natural rubber with no PVD or synthetics. Plus, with every yoga mat bought, Jade plants a tree!
4 • MALIA DESIGNS
Recycled Rice Yoga Bag $20
Why not carry your yoga bag in a fair-trade recycled bag that not only helps the earth, but also provides economic opportunities to artisans in Cambodia and donates to projects working with victims of human trafficking? A great way to spread the yogic spirit, and a useful tool for your trip to and from the studio.
Coffee Safari Multi-pack $39.99
I met the founders of Growers Alliance Coffee a few years ago and was immediately impressed by their product and story. A husband and wife team, both from Kenya, came to the US to start a coffee company which creates awareness of organic and fair-trade coffees and that truly gives back to the communities where the coffee is grown. Not only do they pay multiple times the average to the growers, but they also sponsor community improvement projects such as upgrading schools, digging wells, and sponsoring HIV awareness programs, back in their home country of Kenya.
6 • WE WOOD
Wooden Watches $139
Every time (and this is not an exaggeration) that I wear my WeWood wooden watch I get compliments on it. Most of the time it starts up conversations with strangers as people want to touch it and make sure it’s wood. It is a unique piece for men or women and a chic fashion (under)statement. Plus, you can feel not only stylish, but also eco-concious when wearing it as WeWood uses scrap-wood and also plants a tree with every watch bought.
7 • YOGAGLO
Online Yoga Experience $18
What’s better than giving the gift of health and wellness (which is, bonus, very eco-friendly)? Yogaglo is a great online tool for those with busy schedules, those who are thinking of starting yoga but too shy to step into a studio (yet), and even those yogis who have a regular practice or who may be traveling for a while and can’t get to their local studio. Subscriptions are just $18/month and offer unlimited access to the library of ever-expanding online classes and videos. Sort by teacher, style, duration, and level – Yogaglo is “everyone’s yoga.”
8 • ROOT CASES
Wooden iPhone/iPad Cases $59
For the techies in the household, these amazingly beautiful wooden cases are crafted for iPhones, iPads and MacBooks. Root Cases use sustainable woods in their collection and also are part of two eco-friendly initiatives: “Plant-It 2020″ which plants a tree for every case sold, as well as “1% for the Planet” where 1% of all sales go towards supporting environmental non-profit organizations.
You may have already heard of the eyewear company which is making headlines with their innovative strategy of giving one pair of glasses away to someone in need for every pair sold. Not only is it a great way to give back, it’s also a way to look good, as their prescription, non-prescription and sunglasses are fashion forward, boutique, and rival the best designer styles. You can even have several pairs shipped to you free to decide on your favorites up-close and personal.
10 • OXFAM UNWRAPPED
Unique Gifts (donated in someone’s name) $12 & up
How about giving a tribe of goats, a song, or even a can of worms for the holidays? Oxfam Unwrapped has been one of my favorite go-to good-works unique gift idea for years. It could be that gift for the person who has everything (because I doubt they’ve ever received a pile of manure as a gift…and this is an option on Oxfam). Actually, what you’re giving is a donation to Oxfam and their international relief efforts – but you can choose the donation based on price or the item to be donated (such as the aforementioned manure which is given to farmers as a natural fertilizer). Then you can gift a lovely card to your friend with the message, “I got you an alpaca meadow for the holiday!”
Erin Lewis is a certified yoga instructor and founder of EAT.PRAY.MOVE Yoga Retreats, sharing her love of yoga and travel by hosting yoga holidays around the Mediterranean area. She has studied various types of yoga disciplines for over 12 years, concentrating on the Ashtanga discipline since 2008, and receiving her teacher certification in Florence, Italy. Now she combines powerful movements with more anatomical-based core vinyasa flow in her personal practice and teaching style. You can find her in New York City when she’s not leading yoga groups through Italy.
Follow her here.