This holiday season, we at WWAC are focusing on handmade/homemade gifts and gifts from indie companies, sellers, or even non-indies that support ethical labor practices. I asked some of our contributors to share their recommendations. Please share your own recommendations, charities, and other means to ethical gift-giving in the comments! – Ginnis
I really love gift-giving. I’m lucky to have a lot of amazing chosen-family in my life, and recently many of them have moved for love, jobs, and school, so gift-giving has taken on even more meaning for me. Now, not only am I looking to brighten-up their days, but I want to send them something that says “I’m always thinking of you, and you’re dear to me even while far away.”
Many people I care about this year will be getting donations made in their name to worthy charities and organizations like Planned Parenthood, Black Lives Matter, BYP100, Trans Lifeline, Sylvia Rivera Law Project, The Sierra Club, etc. As for those folks I’ve agreed to exchange gifts with, I have a few go-tos:
- Zines: I will either stop by local (to me) shops like Quimby’s, local presses like Spudnik Press, or I’ll buy zines online from places like Microcosm Publishing. Zines are a great gift for anyone. They come in very traditional handmade, xeroxed, staple-bound form, as well as neatly printed and stitched form. Buying zines supports independent artists and stores and are just a ton of fun.
- Books: Support independent publishers! Agate Publishing, Coffee House Press, Milkweed, Greywolf, Curbside Splendor (disclaimer: I work for them), and so many more support local voices and nurture amazing literature that you won’t find at the standard corporate publisher. Bella Books and Sapphire Books are where I go for lesbian books. And/or support feminist bookstores like Women & Children First in Chicago (“Shop as independently as you think”) and Bluestockings in New York, Laurel Bookstore in Oakland, A Room of One’s Own in Wisconsin.
- Journalism: As a journalist and as an avid reader of journalism, it’s important to me to support feminist journalism. I’ve given subscriptions to publications like Bitch Magazine and Lilith (Independent, Jewish, and Frankly Feminist).
- Other Stuff: For those who are tired of me buying them books (I accept the fact that not everyone is a reader) and are really into being LGBTQ+, I go first to the Autostraddle Store which supports the writers on Autostraddle. For art and crafty stuff, I go to Women Crafts.
- Crafting: Darn Good Yarn: Buy recycled/reclaimed/fair trade yarn and goods, support a woman CEO, and help women living in Nepal and India support their families.
- General Online Marketplaces: Ten Thousand Villages: I used to love visiting these booths at Mennonite fairs in Indiana. Now they have an online marketplace. I love the story of the woman who founded this organization, and it’s been around for 70 years! The Little Market: Another online ethical/fair trade/artisan site helping women around the world. The Ethical Market is a UK-based enterprise and has a lot more fashion, housewares, and even a section for toys.
- Books: Better World Books: Among their other charitable endeavours, every time you buy a book, they donate a book to a charitable organization. Also, you can sell your old textbooks to them! I wouldn’t be an Oregonian if I didn’t recommend Powell’s books. As a child, Powell’s taught me to love used books and new books equally, and I have ever since.
In the past I’ve given gifts on behalf of others through Heifer International and Oxfam. I like donating through these organizations because you can actually buy specific things like a cow, a goat, a pair of chickens, or school supplies, which I think feels a little more unique than simply saying you donated money (although that’s super important too!). Save the Children is good for sending a girl to school or donating a community book bank. And UNICEF actually has its own marketplace, which is an excellent place to start looking for fair trade gifts.
One of the ways I find locally made or ethically sourced gifts is by attending crafts fairs. If you live in a major city, check out if it hosts a Renegade Craft Fair. Also check in the paper if any of your local churches are hosting any sort of global trade fair. A small church in my hometown holds one every year, and it’s where I often go to buy handmade stuff to support a variety of initiatives.
If you like collecting cute art prints and pins like me, you can often see if your favorite artists on Twitter have their own Etsy store. I really love the art of Brittany Lee, Liana Hee, and Nathanna Erica. Thousand Skies makes adorable dog themed pillows, prints, and pins. I love ColorMeSilly’s thermal nail polishes. And HoneyThistle makes cute little Hayao Miyazaki themed terrarium necklaces. And theGorgonist just makes a lot of nice stuff in general.
I am addicted to bath and beauty products. Lush Cosmetics, a major company, makes ethically sourced and many vegan products – and does zero animal testing. Often, sales of their items go towards a variety of charities. Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab is an indie perfume company that specializes in geek and gothic themed scents. They have frequently collaborated with the Comic Book Defense Fund, and recently created a scent called Nasty Woman where all proceeds were split between Planned Parenthood and Emily’s List. Also, Espionage Cosmetics is my latest beauty obsession, I am all about the geek-themed nail wraps.
A Mighty Girl doesn’t directly sell items, but rather is a site that curates content that is pro-girl, pro-diversity, and pro-LGBTQI. I have found a lot of great gifts for young girls on this site.
Artist Stephanie Buscema has done some of my favorite comic book covers and she has an Etsy shop that sells her art work on a variety of items: giclee prints, scarves, wallets, and more! Comic book artist Megan Levens also sells some of her artwork via her Etsy shop, as well.
For your pagan friends, I can’t recommend enough Beth Maiden’s Little Red Tarot shop which has a great collection of ethically made and produced items such as zines for pagans and unique tarot and oracle decks.
Donating to your local animal shelters and rescues is always a great gift that people appreciate!
I would also recommend perusing our Geek Mystique section—a monthly column where I curate the month’s geeky merch, cosplays, and etc.
How about you? Where do you find your ethical gifts?