18 Cool Christmas Gifts That Are Making a Difference

A few materials trying to put a new spin on materialism.

BY JESSE CAREY GLOBAL / CURRENT December 11, 2015

Christmas shopping is hard.

It isn’t always easy to find a gift that a friend or family member will actually want to use and that they don’t already have. Thankfully, we’re here to help.

We’ve compiled a list of 18 products to check out this Christmas. And, in addition to making cool gifts, each of them is making a difference in some way: Giving back to a community in need, helping the environment or providing assistance to the less fortunate.

Sseko Sandals

The vision of Sseko is to employ “high-potential women in Uganda to make sandals to enable them to earn money through dignified employment that will go directly toward their college educations.” The company’s collection of handbags, accessories and footwear is all designed and made by artisans in Africa. You can go here to hear our interview with Sseko founder Liz Bohannon.

Lstn Headphones

LSTN gear uses reclaimed wood to give their line of headphones and in-ears a unique look and sound, but it’s really the company’s mission that sets them apart from other audio electronics makers. The “Giving Back. Amplified.” program has helped more than 19,000 people in six different countries receiving hearing.

Krochet Kids Hats

Named after a group of California friends known for their hat-crocheting skills, Krochet Kids now employs women in developing countries, connecting them with professional mentorship programs. And, unlike major fast-fashion outlets, Krochet Kids makes sure you know exactly who made your clothes: Every piece of clothing is hand-signed.

Founder Kohl Crecelius explained to RELEVANT: “The most important thing for us was that we could maintain this promise we had set out in the beginning: That every piece we make is hand-signed by the person who made it. So no matter what types of construction methods we use, whether it’s crocheting or whether it’s sewing, that same impact is happening on the person’s life who’s actually making that item.”

TOMS Sunglass

The company that made social entrepreneurialism so popular with their buy-one, give-one shoes now has a full range of products including a very cool collection of sunglasses. And, for each pair sold, TOMS will make a donation to programs that are helping provide eye care to people in need. You can go here to listen to our interview with TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie.

Project 7 Gum

Project 7 partners with a group of nonprofit organizations so that use the revenue from their gum, mints and other products to help give food, housing and education to people in need. Project 7’s founder explained to RELEVANT, “You’re feeding the hungry, you’re housing the homeless, you’re healing the sick, buying malaria medicine. Our whole message is getting people to think about how they buy, to be smarter as a consumer.”

Raven & Lily Jewelry

Through its line of women’s apparel, accessories and jewelry, Raven + Lily “helps employ marginalized women in India, Ethiopia, Kenya, Cambodia, Pakistan, Guatemala and the USA at fair trade wages to give them access to a safe job, sustainable income, health care, education and a real chance to break the cycle of poverty for themselves and their families.”

MiiR Water Bottles

Miir steel water bottles are a sleek way to carry around your own hydration source, but the company is known for more than just their bright bottles. For every vessel sold, one person receives clean water through well building projects.

Warby Parker Glasses

For each pair of eyeglasses—which are less expensive (not to mention cooler looking) than many major brands—Warby Parker gives a pair to a person in need.

HERO Bikes

A nonprofit dedicated to ending rural poverty, HERO is best known for their line of bikes made from locally grown bamboo. In addition to making the cool wooden-framed cycles, HERO’s mission is to provide “job training, affordable housing and economic development to build strong communities.”

Giving Key Necklaces

You may have seen Giving Key necklaces being worn by Hollywood cool kids like Ryan Gosling and Taylor Swift, but the unique accessories are more than just a trendy fashion statement. They’re also helping people end the cycle of homelessness. From Giving Keys: “The Giving Keys exist to employ those transitioning out of homelessness to make jewelry out of repurposed keys that get sold and shared around the world.”

Bureo Skateboards

What makes Bureo unique, is that in addition to making cool products, they also run a “fishnet collection and recycling program aimed at combating the detrimental impacts of discarded fishing nets.” All of their “Minnow” skateboards are made from old fishing nets that have been melted down, and re-formed into skate decks.

Yoobi School Supplies

A great stocking stuffer for the student in your life, Yoobi makes colorful school and office supplies. And, for every purchase, school supplies are donated to a classroom in need.

Bombas Socks

Bombas not only feature a great fit and a cool look. But for every pair purchased, a pair is donated to a homeless shelter.

One World Soccer Balls

These super-durable soccer balls never go flat. That means for the community that receives (one is donated with every purchase), they are are receiving a gift that will last for years.

JOYN Handbags

The vision of JOYN is to take “artisans living in poverty and [join] them with the thriving fashion world.” Each of the bags is made by hand by artisan craftspeople in India.

Hand in Hand Soap

Not only do these soaps smell great, but “for every product purchased, Hand in Hand donates a bar of soap and provides a month of clean water to children in need.”

Charity:Water Temporary Tattoos

Eighty percent of the sale of this $5 stocking stuffer goes to support clean water projects through Charity:Water.

Harry’s Razors

Not only are Harry’s cheaper than drug store razors, they also give back. For every razor they sell: 1 percent of all sales and 1 percent of all employees’ time goes to either City Year or another organization that provides individuals with long-term professional skills.

Editor’s Note: This story is an updated version of a piece that originally ran in May.

JESSE CAREY

Jesse Carey is an editor at RELEVANT and a mainstay on the weekly RELEVANT Podcast. He lives in Virginia Beach with his wife and two kids.

One thought on “18 Cool Christmas Gifts That Are Making a Difference

  1. The link to Liz Bohannon’s interview goes to a Brooke Fraser article, just thought you’d want to know! 😉 Love this!

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