Here are some tips & ideas that get me excited and might just be the right earth-conscious gift for the traveler in your life.
a. Buy directly from crafts people all over the world
If you’re looking for beautiful housewares and clothing directly from crafts people in developing nations, take a peek at what The Bootstrap Project offers. Their programs connect artisans practicing age-old crafts with an international market and development partners. The sales profits go directly to the artists and their communities to support education and cultural preservation.
Jurab stockings crocheted in Tajikistan. $60
b. Support a travel inspired art project
How about a KickStarter proposal—like this beautiful photo series that inspires wanderlust. Stan Engelbrecht & Nic Grobler have spent the last 2 years cycling over 6000 kilometers to collect 500+ portraits of everyday bicycle commuters throughout South Africa and now they are looking for help publishing their collection in a 3 book series.
$80 gets you all 3 books and a unique Portrait print.
c. Find organic & ethically made travel necessities
Nigel’s Eco Store in the UK is committed to solving environmental challenges in order to offer a range of high quality products that don’t pollute, use less energy and are natural & organic. Perhaps a soft, stripey sleeping bag will do the trick for your favourite camper.
$120 for an organic cotton, naturally-dyed sleeping bag.
d. Skip the paper guide book
If you know where your traveller is off to next, how about getting a digital guide. D&K has a new range of iPad & iPhone apps, that are still packed with beautiful illustrations, maps and thoughtful info without the paper waste or the 3lb. burden on your carryon.
$5 through iTunes.
e. Or find a personalized, hand-made guide
Perhaps you would still prefer a tangible guide you can shove in your pocket? Etsy’s got plenty of hand-made booklets by artists who recommend their local hangouts and favourite attractions. Each one feels like an illustated list of reccos straight from a friend and so affordable too.
Berlin $12; Chicago $8.50; Glasgow $3.
f. Fund a community initiative
There is a lot to feel good about when you give an Oxfam Unwrapped gift, like Radio Broadcasting. You will be reaching impoverished communities with health advice, education and local news by providing broadcasting equipment and training to run a radio station.
g. Give your cash to companies that give back
And if you’re hunting for the latest trend, why not find a company that is cool but also comitted to spreading the wealth. Tom’s (not just for hipster shoes anymore) now sells classic shades and gives a pair of vision glasses or eye treatment to a person in need each time you purchase.
$135-145 for a pair.
h. Feel good about supporting your favourite cause
Have a little fun giving a handful of brightly coloured condoms from Sir Richard’s Condom Company, while they match one for one in condom donations to developing nations, promoting the basic right to safe sex.
$13 for a box of dozen.
i. Get educated on how to travel cleaner
Chock-full of practical culturally sensitive travel advice, ‘Clean Breaks’ from the Rough Guide series should probably be on every traveller’s book shelf. It hand picks the best earth-friendly hotels, tours and activities (from sleeping in a Native American tipi to witnessing Zebra migration in Botswana) without compromising on the quality of your holiday.
j. Get vintage baggage (without all the baggage)
I’ve posted about this before, and I still maintain, one of the easiest eco travel tips is finding some vintage luggage. So if you’d like to give your traveller a round 60s ‘hat-box’ or a cool duffel with character try Etsy or Ebay. They’ll never have a problem spotting it at baggage claim.