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BusinessDecember 7, 2019

How to give ethically this Christmas without buying a goat: 2019 edition

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Getty Images

Following the raging success of the 2018 non-goat ethical Christmas gift guide, here for you today – responsibly wrapped in reusable gift wrap – is the 2019 list of ethical, sustainable, socially conscious, or charitable gift ideas to satisfy all kinds of family members and budgets.

Budget Category: ‘Can we pay you in exposure?’

Cookies from The Cookie Project

Price: $13 – $32

Delicious baked goods are a staple of family Christmases, office Secret Santas, and ‘we totally remembered to buy you specifically a gift, let me just reach into this cupboard’ gifts all over the world. Here in Aotearoa, The Cookie Project employs people with disabilities to make delicious cookies using the finest local ingredients. The unemployment rate for people with disabilities hovers around the 80% mark – affecting both the mental and physical health of those excluded. The Cookie Project is a new social enterprise on a mission to change this stark statistic, and to bring more cookies into the world at the same time. It’s a win-win.

AvoSpa range by Cocavo

Price: $12 – $18

Were you inspired by the Spinoff article about how to make your own kawakawa balm but don’t quite have the time/resources/emotional energy to commit to that? Good news! Cocavo are a Northland company that specialise in high quality, sustainable avocado and coconut oil, and now they’ve released their AvoSpa range, which uses these same ingredients to create beautiful, natural skin balms. In addition to Kawakawa Balm, there’s Manuka Balm for skin repair, Breeze Balm for colds and flu, and a bunch of others. As someone who has skilfully passed on their hyper-sensitive skin to both their kids, I can attest these are great remedies for things like eczema. Even better, recognising the high incidence of skin conditions among people with Down syndrome, 10% of every AvoSpa purchase is donated to the UpsideDowns Education Trust.

New Zealand Firefighters Calendar

Price: $15

It’s an oldie but a goodie – the NZFSA annual calendar is now in its 30th year, and in that time has raised over $800,000 for the Child Cancer Foundation, as well as funds and awareness for our brave firefighters. Everyone needs a calendar at this end of the year. Some of us also need fire safety tips, and some more of us have thirst reasons to pick one of these up. All the models are real live NZ firefighters and can be seen educating people about fire safety, working with cute kids, and yeah, there’s some sexy poses in there too. You can buy them online or at your local fire station.

Ethique products

Price: $5 – $30

A good beauty product is a safe bet for pretty much any family member. Just don’t do what my sister did and buy deodorant for our brother every year for a decade. Eventually, they will see what you’re getting at and get pissed off with you. Ethique are a Christchurch-based company that are committed to plastic-free, cruelty-free, sustainable beauty products. Their products are available online as well as in an increasing number of shops in New Zealand and overseas.

Budget Category: ‘I prefer craft beer’

Annual Passes

Various prices

This one is mostly for any small people you want to buy gifts for, though there are plenty of adults who would also love carte blanche for as much time looking at those cute little smiley stingray faces at the aquarium as they can get. If you’re looking to avoid buying plastic toys for kids this year, then annual passes are a great way to go. There are options all over the country from the Turbo Pass at Invercargill’s Transport World in the deep south, to Kelly Tarlton’s, MOTAT, the Zoo, or Stardome in Auckland. Our cities are teeming with possibilities, and smaller towns have local pools, museums, homesteads, and other kid-friendly amenities. Extra for experts – attach a homemade voucher for a day out with you – that way you don’t have to get anything for the small person’s owners.

Spinoff Book

Price: $38

Need I say more?

Ooooby box

Price: $40 – $90

Chances are, someone you’re buying a Christmas present for consumes food. Excellent. This one is for them. Ooooby boxes deliver high quality, local produce which show-cases small-scale, sustainable farming. They have a range of options (including a massive Christmas dinner box) and are customisable if you, like me, believe that mushrooms are a scourge upon this earth which should never be approached, let alone eaten.

Clothing from Liminal

Price: $25 – $100

Liminal stock organic, ethically made clothing from a handful of different social enterprises such as Freeset which works with women who have survived sex trafficking in West Bengal. You can buy some of their basics range, decorative totes, or if that’s too pedestrian for your Christmas, customise a T-shirt with a haiku in honour of Robert the Bruce or something. They scored an A+ in the 2019 Ethical Fashion Report, alongside Icebreaker and Kowtow.

Budget Category: Ok, Boomer

Artwork from Opportunity Arts

Price: $200 – $1,000

Opportunity Arts features artists with disabilities, backgrounds in corrections, or others who traditionally struggle with access to the arts. There is an array of beautiful pieces available on their website which will “make you feel, feelings!”

An e-bike from MeloYelo

Price: $1,800 – $4,000

Increasingly affordable and reliable, e-bikes are a sustainable solution to soul-sucking city commutes and paucity of parking spaces. MeloYelo are a New Zealand owned and operated team, whose profits support EVelocity, their charity which develops the engineering skills of young people. If a whole e-bike is just a tad spendy, they also sell gear like helmets and phone holders. The e-bike revolution is upon us, so make like our suffragette mothers and emancipate yourself through cycling.


Price: potentially quite a lot

There are plenty of local jewellers across Aotearoa who create beautiful, bespoke, conflict-free, sustainably sourced or upcycled jewellery. For example, there’s Sophie Divett in Christchurch, Ash Hilton, Stone Arrow in Takaka, and, if you think you might use the festive season as an excuse to pop the big question (and thus never have to remember your engagement anniversary), there’s the wonderful brother and sister team at Diamonds on Richmond in Auckland, who are also partnered with Cure Kids.

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Mad Chapman, Editor
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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