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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Break Room

15 Amazing Sustainable Gift Picks

The countdown has truly begun for holiday shoppers. With Christmas right around the corner, I know I’m starting to get a little anxious about finding all the right gifts just in time.

It’s easy to turn to our go-to big brands as we struggle to come up with the perfect present, but the most unique finds often come from smaller retailers. And, choosing sustainable, fair trade, and eco-friendly brands has the added benefit of protecting the environment or giving back to communities worldwide.

With everything from speakers made of M&M wrappers to cozy scarves that support women in Rwanda, you might find a few keepers on this list. (And no one has to know if you’re the one doing the keeping!)

1. Mata Traders, Sahara Wrap

Mata Traders works with artisans in India to create beautifully designed and affordable pieces, like this beaded wrap bracelet. ($22)

2. Corkologie, Antique Rides Cork Coaster Set

A fantastic stocking stuffer, these cute coasters would work for the hipster-chic, the shabby-chic, and even the gentleman-chic. ($7.99)

3. Musana Jewelry, Aqua Sunrise Necklace

Full disclosure: I am affiliated with Musana—I spent a summer working with them in Uganda. That said, I can attest firsthand to the valuable power of your purchase. Musana’s profits directly support the artisans, most importantly through their salaries, but also by providing English, business, and health classes. ($25)

4. RuMe, rCase

For the patriot in your life: an expertly faded American flag iPhone case made from recycled aluminum! ($34.95)

5. Catherine Merrick for SERVV, Omega Pendant

Sometimes the best things come in small packages. This cool metal necklace is small enough for a stocking and cute enough for under the tree! It also supports business development for artisans in Peru, as well as welfare projects like scholarships and feeding programs. ($90)

6. SERVV, Recycled Glass Wine Decanter

Shopping for the mother, father, aunt, or uncle who has everything? This would be a great piece to add to someone’s wine and cheese party set-up. ($38)

7. Nkuku, Hand Painted Bowl

Nkuku is a U.K.-based fair trade company supporting artisans the founders met through travels in Africa and India. The brand has beautiful housewares, perfect for a new homeowner (or recently relocated renter)!  (£6.50)

8. Indego Africa, Loop Scarf

Gorgeous and cozy, this scarf is perfect as winter weather settles in. Plus, your purchase supports female artisans in Rwanda. ($60)

9. Skunkfunk, Purse

A little funky, as the name would suggest, these bags are made with environmentally friendly products in Spain. ($99)

10. Mercado Global, Clutch

It was difficult to choose which Mercado Global handbag or clutch to include—they’re all so stylish. Maybe you’ll just have to get a few! And why not, when proceeds from Mercado products support rural indigenous women in Guatemala? ($48)

11. Dropp!, Fruit Bowl

This is a party-ready conversation starter for the host or hostess who you thought had everything—until you saw this bowl. It’s a sustainable gift made of recycled silicone and will forever be the center of attention on a table. ($115)

12. DOSTI, Soccer Ball

Designed and produced by a female-owned company in Afghanistan (with initial support from BPeace, an inspirational non-profit based in NYC), these are beautiful, high-quality soccer balls perfect for any wannabe soccer star. ($45)

13. Global Goods Partners, Recycled Tire Cell Phone Case

Whether you use it as a clutch or slip it in your purse, this case is just the right size to hold your phone and other essentials. It would also nestle nicely in a stocking! ($18)

14. Digs, Bamboo Sushi Tray

Is learning to make sushi on your best friend’s bucket list? No matter how her first few rolls actually taste, they’ll look delicious on this tray! It’s also reassuring to know that the tray, designed by Diane Ruengsorn for Digs, is made with environmentally-friendly and people-friendly materials, meaning they don’t hurt anyone in the process! ($56.25)

15. Terracycle, M&M Speakers

Terracycle is known for taking waste we usually think needs to be thrown away and upcycling it into products we want to own, like this playful speaker set made from old candy wrappers. (Find the product and pricing details here.)

Are you incorporating ethical shopping into your holiday gift-giving this year? Let us know of any other great brands you’ve come across!