‘Tis the season of gift giving — and actually panicking about it! Who among you has got planning for Christmas shopping down pat? Do you even know who you’re giving presents to this year? The biggest challenge each year, however, will always be finding the right gifts for people on your Christmas list (if you ever end up making one). If you’re a conscious consumer, I’m certain you’re going to go the extra mile by asking the question, “are these products even eco-friendly, ethically made and socially responsible?” To help you come up with ideas, here's a holiday shopping guide featuring products from my store.
1. Bucket List Travel Wallets
FOR WHOM? I’m quite sure you can quickly name friends and family members who travel frequently or just love traveling in general. These travel wallets are also well-suited for people who have a knack for organizing not only when traveling but pretty much in everything they do. Don’t want to carry a super big tote bag while sightseeing? Great — these wallets have got you covered. They have multiple pockets where you can keep your bills, credit cards, boarding pass, passport, and even your mobile phone. Your travel junkie friend or cousin with an obsession for arranging things in an orderly fashion may find this wallet/organizer rather useful.
THE CONSCIOUS APPEAL: These wallets are handmade using leatherized water hyacinths (I’ve explained in another blog post the harmful effects of water hyacinth infestations to the environment). You're not only shopping for a gift but also supporting a product born out of a brand's desire to turn something invasive into a beautiful and desirable item. Purchasing these wallets will also help promote job stability in Filipino riverside communities often plagued by water hyacinths.
2. Chunky Bracelets
FOR WHOM? These chunky bracelets are best suited for anyone who loves fun colors and is looking for something different. Beach lovers and music festival goers may also find the appeal in these paper bead bracelets.
THE CONSCIOUS APPEAL: These bracelets are made from upcycled paper, which can easily satisfy your thirst for anything eco-friendly. They’re also handmade by women artisans who live in a typhoon-devastated community in Dumaguete, Philippines. My partner brand Lumago Designs follows fair trade practices which ensure that these women are paid regularly for their work and are offered skills workshops and life skills training. Another noteworthy detail about these bracelets is there’s only one piece available for each color. The artisans who make them work with whatever material is available at the moment of creation, so whoever receives a Chunky Bracelet as a gift will be owning a uniquely crafted piece of upcycled jewelry.
FOR WHOM? If you have friends and relatives who happen to be writers or artists, you might want to consider giving them one of these handmade journals. Writers who prefer expressing their thoughts on paper will surely appreciate this present. Apart from this, these journals come with an unruled notebook, so artists can simply use it as a drawing/sketching notebook.
THE CONSCIOUS APPEAL: The sleeve is made of leatherized water hyacinth which may not only appeal to you as an eco-conscious shopper, but also those who are pursuing a more sustainable lifestyle. The journal itself is refillable, providing an opportunity to re-use. You can just detach the notebook once you've filled the pages and replace it with a blank one.
FOR WHOM? Shawls can be worn with your favorite fall and winter dresses. These woven shawls, in particular, can also be used as scarves, making them ideal fashion accessories for people who are looking for more colorful choices this season. Besides using them as a fashion item (which is a given), these can also be used as throw blankets which can appeal to homebodies who love staying in on a cold autumn night, sipping a cup of hot chocolate while binge-watching Netflix TV shows.
THE CONSCIOUS APPEAL: These pieces are woven by mothers in Batangas, Philippines. These mothers are skilled weavers whose only source of income is weaving. Purchasing these shawls as gifts will help sustain the livelihood of these weavers as well as promote the preservation of their weaving tradition.
5. Sack Sling Bags
FOR WHOM? I’ve previously discussed the potential uses of these upcycled sack sling bags, and it's amazing how multi-functional they really are. These are unisex bags too, perfect for both women and men. People who love the outdoors may also enjoy these sling bags since they are spacious enough and can be casually worn around one’s body. These bags can also be used as dog carriers so consider giving one to a friend who has a pet.
THE CONSCIOUS APPEAL: These sack sling bags are made from upcycled flour sacks, and that alone can make any eco-warrior jump in excitement (even more so if they actively participate in efforts to reduce textile waste!). It’s also important to know that these bags are 100% handmade by a small skilled family, a person with a disability and stay-at-home mothers and grandmothers. Every sack sling bag bought means another day with food on the table for these people.
6. The Rei Sling
FOR WHOM? This sling bag is a small, compact piece ideal for carrying pocket-sized items. It's a great choice for women on the go who "pack lightly" when running errands or going out for a quick stroll with friends.
THE CONSCIOUS APPEAL: The Rei Sling is handcrafted by women survivors of Typhoon Haiyan in Leyte and Samar in central Philippines. It’s been five years since the most devastating natural disaster in the Philippines happened, and yet, these survivors are still struggling to rebuild what they lost at that time. For most of these women, weaving is a way of life; hence, purchasing this product means supporting their livelihood which, in turn, allows them to buy enough food for every day and most importantly, send their children to school.