In today’s world, it’s easy to live a life that centers around sustainability. When you visit the grocery store, you can find everything from sustainably-sourced coffee beans to meat that was humanely and ethically raised. But what about the products that we use on a daily basis? What do we know about the conditions under which they were made?

While it’s not pleasant to think about, the majority of the things we use are produced by a factory, often in a developing country. These countries often have loose regulations regarding hours worked and the age of the employee. While it may be an economical option, it presents global challenges that are difficult to fix.

The same goes for gifts. When you are shopping for a friend, a parent, or a child, it’s easy to buy from a well-known retailer. But finding alternative gifts can be a rewarding experience–both for the giver and the receiver.

Here are three ethical options that will surprise your receiver and help make a social impact on the larger world.


Visit a Fair Trade Retailer

Once you begin to think about the topic, you might consider alternative options for your next gift. The good news is that several companies offer products that are ethically produced. This means you can feel less guilty about giving a loved one a gift that may have been produced under less-than-desirable conditions. Ten Thousand Villages is a great place to start. The company offers hundreds of handmade products from artisans all around the world. From hand-painted pottery to textile spun with alpaca wool, this retailer is an excellent alternative.


Donate a Gift

If you’re looking for a unique way to celebrate an occasion, why not consider donating to a charity in honor of the recipient. With World Vision, you can visit their gift catalog to donate money, school supplies–even animals to help families living in underserved areas of the world.

For nature fans, check out The Nature Conservancy, where your gift can support a range of eco-options including wildflower re-growth, habitat protection, even environmental advocacy.


Opt for an Experience

Gifting an experience is a great way to honor a person you care about. Buying tickets to an art museum or concert can be an excellent way to show you care. If you must give a gift card, try and find a local shop or eatery that will support the regional economy.

Finally, experiences can make great gifts for children. Contact your local zoo to see if they offer a ‘Behind the Scenes’ package where you’ll get to meet and interact with an animal. You’ll be supporting a worthy cause while making great memories at the same time.

It’s important to keep in mind that the act of giving can be the most important part of the process. Be sincere and generous with your admiration. A thoughtful gift is one that will be remembered.