It’s nice to go shopping and buy presents for friends and family, have them open them and go “wow!” and all the rest, but that’s hard when you’re overseas at Christmas and away from loved ones and need to do your Christmas shopping online. These days there’s an abundance of opportunities for online shopping. But what’s really nice is when that present you buy online benefits somebody else other than the recipient. In our true last minute style, we’ve got a few last minute Christmas present ideas for gifts that give – presents that you can buy online for your loved-ones that also give back to those in need.
Update, 20 Dec 2012: we’ve added some last minute gift ideas to the list for 2012. If you have any ideas of gifts that give back that can be purchased online for someone in the lead up to Christmas gifts that will help those in need please leave the details in the Comments below.
BUY A CARD THAT BUYS A CHICKEN OR BUILDS A WELL
“I hope nobody else bought you a goat this year, that’d be awkward.” Don’t you love it? And then there’s “I didn’t buy you a card. I bought you a farm.” And “I wasn’t sure what to buy you this year. Until I saw these carrots.” These Oxfam Unwrapped Christmas cards won’t just bring a smile to your face and that of the recipient, but the money you spend will go towards buying livestock for families to use to feed their kids, to breed to produce more livestock, or sell to pay for school fees or farm tools. Your funds for those gifts will go to Oxfam’s agricultural projects, but they also run health, educational, micro-business, and emergency projects, so you can buy cards that pay for clean water for a school, literacy classes, a rice bank, and mosquito nets. There are plenty more cool gifts that your money will buy that will go towards vital projects. The best thing is that you can choose a gift and order the cards anytime as they can be sent to your loved ones immediately as e-cards. Gifts start from as little as $10 for a chicken through to $119 for a little farm (two ducks, a pig and a goat) to $3000 for a water quality testing kit for a village. If you’ve already sent out your Christmas cards they also have birthday, Valentines and thank you cards, so keep them in mind for other important dates.
BUY A GIFT & ENABLE SOMEONE TO START A BUSINESS
“Give twice this Christmas. When you buy, we share.” And that’s exactly what we’re talking about. Andable is a marketplace that connects people directly with independent merchants – and you can buy anything here, from handmade jewellery and kids’ clothes to art and accessories. When you buy something on the site, you are helping to fund micro loans to people in need, because 10% from every sale goes to a micro loan fund to help people in developing countries start micro-businesses. The 10% has a story too. Andable was started by Rupal Ismin, who was inspired by her grandfather: starting out as an impoverished child in India, without even shoes on his feet, once successful Dr Chhotubhai Patel donated 10% of all his income to charity. Inspiring. What we love is the ability to insert your location to find something made locally; click on the ‘Love Local’ box, bottom right.
FEEL GOOD, BUY FAIR TRADE
Are you like me and worry about where every little thing you buy comes from? Are children who should be at school in sweatshops making this? Does this really come from a hill tribe village in Laos or was it made in a factory in China? That sort of thing. Then shop at Fairerplanet, an eco friendly and ethical online superstore for fair trade goods, organic products, and handmade gifts, including handcrafted jewellery, organic chocolate and tea, fair trade coffee, natural beauty products, and more. All the products have been carefully researched and chosen for their ethical, fair trade, green, or carbon neutral credentials. One idea for gifts from the site, which came via Catherine Mack of the Ethical Traveller blog: delicious olive oil products, including olive oil, marinated olives and almonds, from Palestine – “the home of the olive tree” according to the International Olive Oil Council – from Zaytoun, a non-profit cooperative founded to establish a market for fairly traded artisanal produce from Palestine. Zaytoun means ‘olives’ in Arabic. Buy their ethically sourced products and you’re empowering the producer communities.
COOK WITH POO, PULL SOMEONE OUT OF POVERTY
Thai cooking instructor Saiyuud Diwong, nicknamed ‘Poo’, runs the Helping Hands Thai Cooking School from a compact kitchen opposite her moest home in Bangkok’s notorious Klong Toey slum. Formerly a poverty-stricken noodle-vendor, Poo started the school for expats and tourists with a small loan from an altruistic foreign friend. Its popularity has transformed Poo into a successful businesswoman who can not only support her family now, but who is lending her neighbours money so they can also start small businesses and pull themselves out of poverty. In effect, Poo has become a one-woman micro-financing body, helping her community onto similar success. You can visit Poo’s site and book a cooking class online or you can order her cookbook ‘Cooking with Poo’. You can read our story on the class (it was lots of fun!) in the January issue of Get Lost magazine. We’ll also be posting a story about the school very soon here on Grantourismo.
SAVE A COLOBUS MONKEY
After spending two weeks at Diani Beach, Kenya, a few years ago we became completely smitten with the Colobus monkeys who visited us at our ‘home’ a few times a day. We visited the Colobus Trust (as it was then called) and saw the incredible work they do to save and protect the monkeys. You can donate funds to save a Colobus monkey very easily, and you can do it now with a quick email, and you’re going to feel good about it because these adorable Colobus monkeys are endangered. Visit the Colobus Conservation (formerly the Colobus Trust) site and you can read about the impressive work they do rescuing and rehabilitating monkeys who have been electrocuted, lost their habitat due to development, or hit by cars in the increasingly built-up area. We saw it firsthand. Why not donate money to support their work in the name of a loved one and give the gift of a life of a beautiful Colobus. www.colobusconservation.org
HELP REBUILD A VILLAGE
You may have heard that the beautiful Italian Cinque Terra village – everybody’s favourite holiday spot – was recently buried by a mudslide. The town is in a continued state of emergency and its people are unable to return home until the mud has been cleared and the village is safe again. Funds are desperately needed to do this work. This is a chance to give back to a place that is one of Italy’s most popular tourist destinations and has charmed many travellers over the years. Visit the Save Vernazza website where you can see the ‘before and after photos’, make a donation, or browse the gift ideas and buy everything from paintings to music CDs made by the town’s talented residents or people with a connection to the place.
MERRY CHRISTMAS! xx