My Top 7 Sustainable Holiday Gift Ideas – Ones that will hopefully help make a positive impact
“Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present.”
Greetings from Los Angeles and Happy Holidays to one and all.
As 2018 comes to close, we have a deep sense of gratitude and appreciation for all the wonderful people and continued blessings in our daily lives. As I mentioned in my last blog post, we recently celebrated our not-for-profit foundation, TreadRight’s 10 Year Anniversary. This has galvanized our Travel Corporation (TTC) team members and supporters to continue to help the planet, wildlife and local communities, by living a more conscious and sustainable lifestyle.
In the spirit of giving, here are my top seven sustainable holiday gift recommendations, which can help create a positive impact and transform many lives with every purchase one makes. The holiday season is so special – an opportunity to thank others close to us, for this past year and the year ahead, and show our gratitude. Gift giving is sometimes a challenge coming up with the appropriate gift for each person on our respective lists, so I do hope this list (if not too late and you’ve not purchased all the gifts on your list yet) helps you complete yours this year. (or use it for birthday gifts too next year.)
1. Stainless steel straws
Over 500 million plastic straws are used each day in the US alone. So, whatever we can each do to stop using plastic straws (any plastic really – just say NO) directly benefits. A mindboggling number.
This past World Environment Day, our TTC‘s family of brands announced that over the next five years, we will phase out all unnecessary single-use plastics from our collection of travel and hospitality companies. With the guidance of TreadRight, we are fully committed to eliminating single-use plastics across our operations by 2022.
We have officially instituted an immediate ban of more than 60 types of single-use plastic items including cutlery, plastic bags, water bottles, coffee stirrers and straws from our 40 offices across the globe. At our recent TTC launch events in Toronto, we gifted our guests with stainless steel straws which are BPA free and included a cleaning brush. These very affordable straws can be purchased at your local businesses including health food stores or on e-commerce websites which sell environmentally friendly products.
2. Stojo collapsible coffee cup
Around the world each year, over 600 billion disposable coffee cups are used and thrown away. As engaged citizens of the world, we no longer need to have this previous ‘throwaway’ mindset. At our TTC launch events, we also gave our guests a Stojo leak-proof coffee cup which is collapsible and made from recyclable materials.
The cup is both BPA and phthalate free and the Stojo company doesn’t use any adhesives during the assembly of their products. The cups are ultra-portable and can actually fit in your pocket or purse which is great to use for your daily coffee or tea run at your local café. The retail price starts at $14.99 USD for a 12 ounce cup. Some coffee houses today give will give a price discount if you bring your own cup into their store too. You can shop for these cups at their online store – https://stojo.co/collections/stojo-pocket-cup-12-oz
3. Bamboo cutlery
Our TreadRight Ambassador and filmmaker, Céline Cousteau recommends lightening our environmental footprint by never using plastic cutlery. One of her travel essentials is using lightweight bamboo cutlery which includes a fork, knife, spoon and a pair of chopsticks. Bamboo is a non-petroleum based material and does not need to be replanted when it is harvested since it will grow a new shoot from its roots system.
Céline personally uses a Chicago-based brand, To-Go Ware which offer an assortment of bamboo flatware in colorful holders which are made out of RPET (recycled PET plastic) and are stain and heat resistant. This long-lasting flatware are hand finished, durable and won’t absorb flavors. The retail price starts at $12.00 USD for a set with the holder –
One of our TTC and TreadRight partners, ME to WE is a social enterprise which creates experiences and products that enables caring individuals to do good through their daily choices. Half of all of their profits are donated to support their affiliate, WE Charity, while the other half is reinvested to assist their social enterprise. These colorful and affordable handmade bracelets are part of the of the ME to WE Artisans collection created by talented women in Kenya, who are affectionately called “Mamas”.
“Rafiki” means friend in Swahili and these women artisans are inspired by the Maasai beading traditions and their creations are made with love. Over 1,800 women in Kenya as well as Ecuador (Amazon Minga bracelets) are making these bracelets, which enables them to earn a sustainable income along with the tools of empowerment, to create a brighter future for their families.
They are also encouraged to join small business training and entrepreneur workshops and mentorship programs. With every bracelet purchased, you can track online one of their five “Pillars of Impact” in a sustainable development community (WE Villages) including food, financial opportunity, health, water and education. These bracelets make meaningful stocking stuffers –
5. Handwoven Medieval and Renaissance textiles from Laboratorio Giuditta Brozetti
One of our “People” projects which TreadRight supports in Perugia is in helping to keep an eighth-generation Italian weaving tradition alive. The amazingly talented Marta Cucchia runs Laboratoria Giuditta Brozetti, an atelier and weaving cooperative where their textile products are entirely woven and produced by hand on 18thand 19thcentury antique looms.
The cooperative was founded by Marta’s great grandmother, Giuditta to help local women during World War I and World War II. For almost a century since the founding of this atelier, the cooperative teaches the art of hand-weaving. This heritage has been passed on from mother to daughter. Using our TreadRight grant, the cooperative has created educational tools for bringing more awareness about the tradition of weaving, and also built an e-commerce website to help them sell their Medieval and Renaissance style textiles and providing a stable source of income for these women weavers.
Our Trafalgar and Insight Vacations guests have the opportunity to visit Marta’s atelier on some of our immersive Italian guided vacations and can purchase the artisans’ woven items to support this centuries-old tradition. You can purchase these creations online which include beautiful cashmere-cotton blend scarves, bookmarks, table runners and cushions –
6. Manitobah Mukluks’ Storyboots
The Storyboot School is another one of our TreadRight “People” projects, where Indigenous youth can learn the art of mukluk-making. The Storyboot project helps restore this traditional art form by fostering partnerships with artisans and elders across Canada who handcraft moccasins and mukluks the traditional way.
For every Storyboot item sold, the Indigenous artist receives 100% of the proceeds. Our TreadRight grant has helped to established an educational space and a work space at The Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto, Canada. These Indigenous artisans provides weekly Storyboot School sessions to interested visitors and local indigenous students. You can view and purchase these beautifully crafted Storyboots on the Manitobah Mukluks site which is an Indigenous-owned company, whose vision is to build a vibrant, global brand that makes a lasting impact in Indigenous communities –
7. Handwoven Peruvian ancestral textiles – Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cusco (CTTC)
TreadRight also supports another of our “People” projects near Cusco, Peru by helping Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez, the indigenous Quechua weaver who founded the Centro de Textiles del Cusco, maintain her cultural and artistic heritage which was deteriorating over the past couple of generations. Nilda’s goal is to promote the empowerment of weavers and revitalize her community with income, which will be needed for future housing, education, and medical care.
Our TreadRight grant was used to complete the construction of a traditional weaver’s home at the Chinchero Weaver’s Cooperative, which welcomes visitors and locals alike in order to provide education about the sacred Peruvian weaving techniques and a retail outlet to promote the sale of these textiles.
Our Contiki, Trafalgar and Insight Vacations travelers can visit this women’s weaving collective on one of our Peru guided trips where they have the they opportunity to meet these artisans and buy their beautifully woven items. You can purchase these items including bags, capes, ponchos, shawls and chullos (hats), by visiting their online store –
In closing, at this time of year, it is good to look back at all we’ve accomplished and left unfinished, and start to set goals and objectives for the coming new year.
So I commit myself and our passionate, diligent and dedicated team at TTC to do more to help our planet, our communities in which we work and live in, and bring travelers to, and the dwindling wildlife in their respective habitat. We will all use our paid volunteering days next year, to give back and do good in our local communities.
With Treadright and our businesses, we will re-dedicate ourselves to further reducing the use of single use plastics and continue to be caring, conscious and participating citizens of the world, with a conscious effort to reduce our respect footprints, in as many ways as possible.
From our TTC family across the globe to yours, wishing you a very joyful, healthy and peaceful holiday season. Here’s to a safe, good and healthy 2019 for one and all.