Christmas presents that make the world a better place

ReenaSewraz
by Lovemoney Staff ReenaSewraz on 17 December 2012  |  Comments 10 comments

Want to make a positive impact on the world around you this festive season? Then have a look at these alternative gift ideas.

Christmas presents that make the world a better place

Amidst the turkey and the tinsel it's easy to forget the true meaning of Christmas.

Once a time of reflection and goodwill is now overshadowed by senseless spending, drinking and eating that we live to regret come the New Year.

If you want to get into the true spirit of Christmas and escape the materialism this festive season why not consider some alternative gift ideas that can really make a difference to the world we live in? 

Here are a few to get you started:

Charity gifts

Buying a gift from a charity shop will mean you can save money but also play your part in helping raise funds for a good cause.

You can find local charity shops near you on the Charity Retail Association website.

Many like Oxfam have special Christmas gifts if you can’t find any gems second hand.

These include regular ethical presents you would expect such as a Fair Trade leather wallet but there is also the option to pay money towards programmes that can help struggling communities across the world in Oxfam Unwrapped.

This can take the form of a stocking filler gift where £10 can help train a farmer but there is also the opportunity for larger gifts like feeding a community which costs £490. Other programmes include buying goats, chickens or some pigs to give families a helping hand. This sort of programme isn’t a hand out, but equips communities with the tools they need to raise themselves out of poverty.

ActionAid, UNICEF, Save the Children, Greenpeace, Crisis and lots of other charities have similar Christmas gift alternatives that could really help make a difference in people’s lives for a fraction of what you would spend anyway. Also check out Good Gifts for more ideas.

Eco-friendly gifts

Recent research from charity Sightsavers found that there could be 21 million unwanted gifts this year with beauty products and Christmas novelty gifts topping the list of the most unwanted items. The research found that Brits recieve £40 worth of useless presents each year and one in five end up getting rid of them.

Why not try to avoid waste this year and get a free gift using Freecycle? Instead of buying something new you can help others recycle their unwanted items and give a great present to a loved one that they will appreciate.

In my local area there are people currently giving away jigsaws, a fully functional printer and a large 42” TV. Using this website could mean you end up getting a better gift than you could have afforded in the first place!

Pre-owned items might not appeal to everybody but there are other gifts that don’t have to hurt the environment.  Recycled stationary, solar powered gadgets , homemade gifts, ethical apparel and wooden toys can help make a positive impact because they reduce waste, cut down carbon footprints and they are sourced sustainably.

If you do receive an unwanted gift don’t throw it away or leave it to gather dust. Donate it to a charity, put it on Freecycle or even be a bit cheeky and re-gift it to someone who might appreciate it more!

Investing in entrepreneurs

OK so this sounds a little strange, but sites like Lendwithcare allow you to invest in small-scale entrepreneurs in developing countries. Whether it's a general store owner in Togo or a poultry farmer in Ecuador, you can buy a loved one a voucher which they can then use to support whichever business they like.

For a full explanation, read Lendwithcare: ethical investing in developing countries

Sponsor gifts

Millions of children live in poverty across the world - by sponsoring a child this Christmas you can help to feed, educate and care for them. Many charities offer the chance to help, take a look at Sponsor a Child to see which one you could donate money to on behalf of loved ones this Christmas.

Alternatively for younger children you might want to sponsor an animal for Christmas.

With Guide Dogs for the Blind you can sponsor a puppy that will grow up to help the blind lead normal lives. Your loved one will get a cuddly toy, a welcome pack with ‘pupdates’ including photos at key stages in training and an exclusive calendar. It costs £4.33 a month which equates to about £50 in one year. That sounds better than an overpriced heap of plastic that will fall out of favour with the kids after a couple of months.

If you want something a bit more exotic the World Wildlife Federation has a range of endangered animals that you can help protect. You can adopt a tiger, polar bear, panda, penguin or African elephant among others. You get to choose how much you want to pay but the minimum is £3 a month or £36 a year. Your recipient will get a free cuddly toy, magazines, a certificate, fact book and stickers.

Time gifts

Time is an understated gift that actually holds a lot of value. This Christmas you could agree with a few friends and family to not give presents but to spend time volunteering instead. Through Crisis you can volunteer to help feed the homeless over the holidays and the Samaritans always have a lot of opportunities to help those in need.

But giving the gift of time doesn’t have to be for a charity. It can be for friends and family that could really do with some help. Instead of splashing out and buying expensive toiletries you could provide 12 tokens for babysitting to be redeemed throughout the year or offer your time to a friend who is moving house or setting up a new business.

More on Christmas:

The worst charity Christmas cards

Get free Christmas cards, gifts, music, animations and more!

Twelve good, cheap Christmas gift ideas

The best Secret Santa gifts

How to make successful homemade Christmas presents

http://www.lovemoney.com/news/savings-investments-pensions/alternative-investments/16279/lendwithcare-ethical-investing

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Comments (10)

  • realitywins
    Love rating 70
    realitywins said

    Oh dear what a feelgoodery load of old codswallop .....let's just get on and enjoy our Christmas in our own different ways without the Fiends of the Earth and every charity including non-charites like WWF (global warming outfit), swamping us with begging letters. It seems this site has 'got religion'...which religion, I am not sure.

    Just a point of logic: if people didn't receive unwanted gifts and buy unwisely, even wastefully on occasion, things like freecycle could not exist.

    Report on 17 December 2012  |  Love thisLove  5 loves
  • MK22
    Love rating 169
    MK22 said

    Bah Humbug, realitywins. Get yourself across to practicalaction and do some good.

    Report on 17 December 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • electricblue
    Love rating 769
    electricblue said

    @reallywins

    Your logic is nonsense. Freecycle has nothing to do with unwanted gifts or unwise purchases, it is a means for items which are no longer required to be usefully passed on to others. Do parents unwisely purchase prams, cots and baby gates? Howe about furniture which won't fit a new home or is being upgraded? Freecyle is a shining example of preventing waste and helping others. Engage your brain before spouting off.

    Report on 18 December 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • realitywins
    Love rating 70
    realitywins said

    @electricblue

    Please try not to be abusive. I will not report it this time. My logic is based on the good I had heard about freecycle as people have told me they have picked up virtually new TVs, stereos, DVDs, toys, etc that they could not believe had ever been used. Hence, my reference to unwanted gifts and unwise purchases. I have not used it myself so if you are telling me it IS just a load of old secondhand rubbish, I will bow to your superior knowledge on the subject but I had heard otherwise.

    I would say to MK22 that there is nothing 'bah humbug' about me or my family Christmas. We give and receive some excellent presents and are in good spirits for the festive season. The last thing we concern ourselves with is being do-gooders though. I subscribe to several proper charities throughout the year from Blue Cross and Dogs Trust to NSPCC and SSAFA Forces Help.

    Please don't tell others to go to practicalaction or anywhere else you may like, you go and leave others to do what they do. My view is that charity starts at home and I live by that in my regular donations. I also have a very happy Christmas and hope you and electricblue do too.

    Report on 19 December 2012  |  Love thisLove  4 loves
  • cleogen_blue2
    Love rating 73
    cleogen_blue2 said

    @realitywins

    It seems like others think they should tell people in which ways they should allocate their resources, be it time, goods or money. When someone like you (or I) disagrees with their ideology, they get huffy. I prefer to give my old furnishings etc to Group5, a charity that helps those, often without anything, to get back on their feet. There are many other real cahrities like Dorothy House Hospices but no one should be telling others what to do, I agree wholeheartedly. Have a good Christmas as a free thinker.

    Report on 19 December 2012  |  Love thisLove  5 loves
  • majortruth
    Love rating 208
    majortruth said

    @LJACK

    With the greatest respect, why on Earh would anyone care?

    Report on 23 December 2012  |  Love thisLove  3 loves
  • publicspirit
    Love rating 57
    publicspirit said

    Maybe Mr or Ms Jack has a lot of beef stock to groom for shows and compensates for his / her lack of carbon hoofprint (plant food) with the methane in the bovine excrement?

    Report on 23 December 2012  |  Love thisLove  3 loves
  • electricblue
    Love rating 769
    electricblue said

    @LJACK

    Did you know that there are thousands of different plastic compounds, many of which can be recycled many times? Keep your advertising off here.

    Report on 24 December 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • majortruth
    Love rating 208
    majortruth said

    @electricblue

    Sorry to repeat my question but as I asked LJACK

    "With the greatest respect, why on Earh would anyone care?" Of course there are many different plastic compounds and they serve us well but manual material recycling is something of a mugs game when the most efficacious disposal method is waste to energy incineration. The latest WtE plants (plasma jet) can burn nearly all materials, recycling the energy therein. We are not short of landfill in the UK anyway. It is only EU bureaucracy that forces ladfill avoidance to avoid fines.

    Report on 26 December 2012  |  Love thisLove  3 loves
  • Clive_Windsor
    Love rating 53
    Clive_Windsor said

    Excellent points by the good Major. I hope that this covers the Frugal Green Christmas rules adequately:

    Don't eat turkey it's cannibalistic

    Don't eat beef (think CH4)

    Get a cart and pull it round with your frugal pressies on your bike

    Don't drink alcohol, remember the carbon footprint of a bottle of wine and the air miles associated with the Australian and California plonk (unless you live in California)

    Give home grown veg as a pressy wherever possible - your partner will love that (nothing like unwarpping a cabbage on Christmas morning)

    All plastics have a big carbon footprint so no plastic toys for the kids, please (give a local grown tomato or two instead)

    Avoid nuts, as they have already turned your brains to wallnuts

    Put a Chritmas wrapping paper bag over your head and breathe as little as possible (CO2 exhalation is BAD)

    Don't pull any Christmas Crackers, you'll think the "tipping point" has arrived when they crack and you'll need to change your trainer pants.

    Leave only organic cookies for Santa

    Spend Boxing Day sorting out the few waste materials you may have inadvertantly accumulated over Chritmas and carefully pop them into a row of teletubby coloured bins to make the recycling organisations rich.

    Report on 26 December 2012  |  Love thisLove  4 loves

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