It’s that time of year when we look for gift inspiration for our nearest and dearest. If you’re after something original, thoughtful and meaningful this Christmas, a present that empowers people or protects the planet is the answer. From life-improving homewares and fashion with a cause to banana trees (yes, you read that right), these gift ideas will help make the world a better place. And who doesn’t want that right now?
Aerende – an Olde English word meaning care or message – sells a thoughtfully-curated collection of homewares, all made in the UK by people facing social challenges. The non-profit organisation was founded by journalist Emily Mathieson in 2016, her mission to unite heritage skills with environmentally sustainable materials and ethical business practices. Whether you’re after super-soft bed linen, beautifully dip-glazed ceramics or a one-of-a-kind hand-carved wooden chopping board, each and every purchase isn’t just aesthetically pleasing, it supports and provides opportunities for its talented maker, too.
Luminescent Eye Shades
Beauty brand Chantecaille has forever been passionate about environmental philanthropy, lending its support to protect wild species and spaces over the past two decades. Its Luminescent Eye Shades – a collection of rich, pearlescent eyeshadows – pay tribute to Africa’s most endangered animals, each one raising money for a different charity across the continent to help secure a future for these vulnerable creatures. If you want to spoil someone – or yourself – the special keepsake box (£333) contains six shades of the eyeshadow, an artisan-crafted makeup brush and a limited-edition signed wildlife print by photographer Mark Drury.
Kristina Salceanu set up Advent of Change from her kitchen table in 2018, a non-profit organisation creating charming, everyday products with one sole mission – to help make the world a more fair, equal and sustainable place via a number of charities (all of them are listed on the website). The new range includes a beautifully-scented, 100% natural wax candle which, when lit, gradually reveals 24 numbers with each digit representing not only the countdown to Christmas but also one of the two dozen good causes supported with every purchase.
What started as #helprefugees – when a group of friends got together in 2015 to “help the thousands of families arriving on European shores to be met with barbed wire, borders and batons” – has morphed into Choose Love, raising millions for the aid organisation Help Refugees. The charity has a now-iconic line of slogan merchandise – including collaborations with cult fashion labels 16Arlington and Daniel Fletcher – with 100 percent of the proceeds helping to support displaced and vulnerable communities in 15 countries around the world.
Michael Kors is celebrating the eighth year of its Watch Hunger Stop initiative, in partnership with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), which feeds pupils in food-insecure regions around the world, helping them to grow, learn and thrive. This season, the design house has launched an eye-catching tee-shirt to tie in with the theme “Food is love” – made in the softest cotton jersey, it comes in two colourways: red and white or black and white – with 100 percent of profits going to the WFP. Michael Kors will also donate 100 meals for each customer who posts a selfie in their tee on social media using #watchhungerstop.
War Child was founded in 1993 by filmmakers David Wilson and Bill Leeson who, whilst on assignment in former Yugoslavia, were horrified by the impact of the civil conflict on children. Rather than turn to politicians for help in keeping the young and vulnerable in war-torn countries safe and equipping them with life skills for the future, the duo looked to the stars of music and fashion for help. And so Wear it For War Child was born, an initiative which sees Britain’s most prominent designers – everyone from Bella Freud, Vivienne Westwood, Pam Hogg and Amy Powney at Mother of Pearl – create one-of-a-kind organic cotton tees and jumpers, the proceeds of which will protect children affected by war.
For a gift that’s as original as it is planet-friendly, give someone a tree with Treedom. All you need do is choose the tree – the choice is extensive, from Mango to Macadamia, Lemon to Avocado ; the recipient will then receive updates about their tree, which is photographed, geolocated and given its own web page. Not only are you supporting farmers in over 17 countries, helping provide them with know-how and technical support for planting and managing trees in small, sustainable agroforestry systems, but just think of how much your present is benefiting the environment – so far, 1.5million trees have been planted, absorbing a staggering 415million kg of CO2.