Embedded Charity Is Where It’s at with 5 Gifts That Give Back

Is it me or does it feel like just yesterday the web was spinning with the latest and greatest green gifts? A few months into the New Year, I hope most of us have recovered from our holiday consumption hangovers, because the idea of philanthropic gift giving didn’t disappear with the end of 2009. In fact, the trend is still going strong, which bodes well for those of us who care about conscious shopping. Whether you need a quick housewarming present or a fashionable piece of jewelry for your best friend’s birthday, these gifts promise to do everything from promote peace to help save the planet. We like to think of it as embedded charity. Give a gift, give back: what’s not to love?

Caffeinate Consciously with Grounds for Change


If you have a friend who has just moved, you’re well aware of the epic cleaning and sorting that took place before packing up her life in boxes, so why contribute to more clutter? Food and drink are always welcomed when it comes to housewarming presents, and nothing makes a house feel like a home more than the aroma of freshly brewed coffee. Grounds for Change packs plenty of eco and humanitarian goodness into its beans: certified Fair Trade and organic, shade grown and carbon offset. That’s one powerful cup of java.

Designer Microfinance with Nest


Nest is one of those ideas that just makes sense. The nonprofit organization was established to empower female artists and artisans around the globe through micro finance. Nest partners with domestic designers to sell a wide array of beautiful, and exclusive, goods with the proceeds going to fund additional artisans (we’ve long been fans). Providing micro-credit loans, Nest ensures that women get to practice their crafts and benefit their local communities.

Nest sells everything from designer throw pillows to exotic jewelry, meaning there’s something in there no matter who is on your list. Start exploring here or track down a store near you that sells Nest products.

Know Who Made Your Purse with Mend


With most items we buy we can figure out their country of origin, but when it comes to who is behind the production we’re left in the dark. Mend was created to offer a solution to that problem, while at the same time helping to repair the lives of women in war-torn countries.

Buying a bag from Mend means you get to see and know the person that made it and be sure that they were paid a fair wage. All of the seamstresses were formerly abducted child soldiers, making all the handbags “story-driven.” Each piece carries the name of the seamstress who made it, and the purchaser can access online bios, videos and photos to learn more about her. Bags range from $75.95 to $175; buy here.

Promote Peace with Falling Whistles


Want a piece of jewelery designed to influence change? Check out Falling Whistles, a campaign for peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The DRC is home to the world’s largest and most deadly war. It is estimated that 1,500 people lose their lives daily, many of them children. During a trip to the DRC in 2007, Sean Carasso learned about “whistle blowers,” Congolese children too young to hold a gun who are put on the front lines of war, armed only with whistles. Their sole purpose is to frighten the enemy with their whistle blowing before taking the first round of bullets.

Carasso knew that he had to do something and upon returning to the US, founded Falling Whistles. The organization sells specially designed whistles, to be worn as a necklace, and all proceeds go to restoring the lives of war-affected children in the Congo. Buying a whistle from Falling Whistles lets you “make their weapon your voice and be a whistle- blower for peace in Congo.”

A sleek fashion piece, the whistles command questions, and questions lead to conversation, getting more and more people around the world talking about what’s currently happening in the DRC. There are four different whistles in different materials, ranging from $30-$100. Check them out here.

Doing Good for Your Skin and Others with the LUSH Charity Pot

Charity Pot

It’s not often that you can buy a gift and have all of the proceeds go to charity. But body care brand LUSH understands the importance of supporting great causes, which is why they created the Charity Pot. A simple yet rich hand and body moisturizer, 100% of proceeds are donated to the charities that LUSH supports.

Some of the programs that have benefited from the LUSH Charity Pot include Sea Shepherd, where LUSH helped in efforts to end the Canadian Commercial Seal Hunt. Not only can you buy a couple of Charity Pots for you and your friends, you can also recommend groups you think LUSH should be supporting.

Images: DeaPeaJay, Nest, Mend, Falling Whistles, Lush

Anna Brones

Anna Brones is a food + travel writer with a love for coffee and bikes. She is the author of The Culinary Cyclist and Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break. Catch her weekly column, Foodie Underground.