Gifts that Give Back

This week, we will be posting gift ideas that we have collected over the past few months.  In a month with the theme of minimalism, these posts are decidedly maximalist, but they should help minimize your work as you search for great gift ideas.  Today, it’s gifts that give back.  In the days ahead we will have posts with ideas for gifts for teachers, mentors and coaches, gifts for the kids, gifts for him, and gifts for her.

The three of us celebrate a secular Christmas, but we have picked gifts that should fit into many traditions and gift-giving opportunities.

This month, 4mothers1blog became an Indigo affiliate, so if your shopping list includes gifts from Indigo, please consider getting to their website through ours.  If you navigate to their site from here, we will receive a portion of the value of your purchase.  Just click through from the Indigo logo on the right side of the page.

Our first collection of ideas is gifts that give back: gifts with a charitable side.

From Beth-Anne:

LiveFashionable is one of my favourite on-line retailers.  They are committed to helping African women start their own small business cooperatives and they partner with manufacturers that employ women and practice fair-wage compensation.  My Selam scarf is on high rotation!  (Tizita bracelet, $34 and the ABLEscarf, $48.)




FEED is an organization dedicated to fighting hunger and eliminating malnutrition throughout the world.  These organic cotton and burlap totes, if filled with food, would feed a school aged child for one year.  (FEED tote, $80)


Consonant, an award winning all natural skincare company, has developed the Today Body Bar for Causemetics.  $4 from each Today Body Bar is donated to the Canadian Breast Cancer Support Fund that provides financial assistance to breast cancer patients to help ease their financial burden.  At $12 this is the perfect stocking stuffer! (Consonant Today Body Bar, $12)


Approximately 287,000 women die as a result of pregnancy and childbirth complications each year.  Founded by model, film-maker and activist, Christy Turlington, Every Mother Counts is dedicated to reducing that number through education, and providing transportation and supplies.  Several boutique shops and big-name retailers have partnered with Every Mother Counts and contribute donations based on products sold.  For example, these Citizens of Humanity maternity jeans, A Pea In the Pod collection are on sale for $159.00.  Citizens of Humanity will donate $25 and A Pea In The Pod will donate $15 to Every Mother Counts!  Visit their on-line shop for a complete list of retailers and products.


Two Penny Blue is the place to buy fashionable accessories and luxury blazers and jackets in a variety of punchy colours or reliable classics.  For every jacket purchased, Two Penny Blue will donate a school uniform to a girl in need in Africa – opening the door to her education.  And we all know the powers of education!  (Blazers range $325-$399)




Oliberté became the world’s first Fair Trade Certified™ footwear manufacturing factory in 2013.  Based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia the company believes in creating fair jobs and workers’ rights.  In addition to building a company based entirely in Africa (from materials to labor),  Oliberté donates 1% of its proceeds to non-profits dedicated to sustainability and the environment.  For a complete list of 1% For The Planet businesses click here.  Shoes from Oliberté range from $50-$160 and gear is priced from $25 -$300.





From Nathalie:

I met Rafik Riad, the managing director of Salt, at the Distillery District in the summer, and I knew right away that I wanted to spread the word about his company.  Salt sells earth-friendly, hand-crafted and fair-trade gifts at all price points that are made by artisans in impoverished communities.  They work from the ground up, helping to train artisans, and to ensure that they receive a fair payment for their craft.


I lived in Egypt when I was in high school, and when I saw the Sahara Leather Bag ($150), I was immediately taken back to the homes and the markets I visited there.  The bag is made from fabric quilted in the traditional tent-makers’ style, and you can see this kind of quilting on awnings in markets and on throw pillows and blankets in people’s homes, including my own!  It’s beautiful and bold and makes a great statement.

Far and Wide Collective partners with artisans in post-conflict and emerging economies to bring to an international market unique and high quality gifts.  I love that the website includes information about the artisans and their trade.  This sage green silk scarf ($60), for example, was made in Afghanistan by silk weaver Saleh Mohammad, who learned his trade while living as a refugee in Pakistan during the civil war.  Beginning at $20, there are lots of gifts here for teachers, hostesses and BFFs.


Indigo is the Canadian merchandiser for Angela & Roi vegan bags.  The bags are not only animal-friendly, they are wallet-friendly and charitable, too.  Priced from $75-$150, each bag is linked to a different charity, and a portion of the sales goes to that cause.




From Carol

Sayula‘s lovely agave bath mitts, soap pouches, wash cloths, and root brushes make perfect feel-good stocking stuffers.  The Mexican-Canadian company goes the extra miles for environmental and social responsibility, creating bath and kitchen products from regional plants that don’t require much water or any pesticides.  Sayula also works directly with rural communities to provide stable income and fair prices.  Available in Toronto at Little House in the City (Carol’s shop).

sayula mitt


root brush


The Fair Trade Jewellery Co. in Toronto is the destination for ethical jewellery, including nickel-free gold, platinum and Canadian (from Ontario’s Victor mine) and Australian diamonds.  FTJC is also known for its custom designs – the perfect place to shine with an easy mind and heart this holiday.



Wonderful Weleda

One of the perks consequences of writing a blog that gets read is that people and companies sometimes offer to send us their goods for possible review.  The vast majority of the time, we turn these down.  But occasionally we’re interested enough to say yes and will take a look.  And when those products are great, we have to share them with you.

Enter Weleda baby products.  We were sent some lovelies from this company, whose mission is “to actively cultivate beauty”.  This means sustainably growing their own ingredients through biodynamic farming (a trademarked process) and developing fair trade partnerships.  Their natural and organic products are made without synthetic preservatives, fragrances, chemicals “or anything”.

What does this mean on the consumer end?  I hereby testify that it means gentle, effective products that are ideally suited for young skin.  (Weleda also has an adult line, which I plan to try soon.)  And as someone with a nose that dislikes synthetic fragrances, the delicate and natural calendula scent in Weleda’s baby products was a surprising pleasure to me.

I’ve tried the Calendula Baby Lotion and the Calendula Baby Cream.  The former is light and absorbs easily, and is good for daily use.  It slides on easily and leaves little trace.  I like it very well, but the Calendula Baby Cream is my favourite.  It’s rich and luxurious, and perfect to soothe and repair your little one’s dry skin.  It’s much heavier than the lotion, so I like to use it at night before bed, where I’m sure it will have plenty of uninterrupted time to do its work.   It really is wonderful, and I’m often tempted to use it on myself.

We were also sent a tube of the Calendula Diaper Care cream.  My boys rarely have diaper rash, but my baby did recently have an odd and persistent rash that was localized in two spots.  Several applications of the Weleda diaper cream helped to gently dry out the rash, but it didn’t heal it altogether.  To be fair, neither did a strong, traditional zinc oxide cream do the trick either.  A trip to the pediatrician revealed that baby had a yeast infection so that’s why the cream wasn’t entirely effective.  But for regular rashes, I think the diaper care cream would be great.

As with most products that are made organically and with sustainable practices, Weleda products cost more than conventional products.  But they’re worth it.  And as the woman at the store told me, “You can spend a lot more money on baby products than you will on Weleda, but you won’t find anything better.”