Gifts That Give Back: Green Suitcase Travel Edition

It’s the most wonderful time of the year (for some)

Each year we haul out the holly, bake cookies, and spend time with our loved ones. The holidays are a magical time where we come together to celebrate the good in our world.

It’s easy to be merry and bright when you live in a world of comforts, that many don’t have access to like clean water, fair wages, literacy, or a home. These things don’t have to be out of reach for those in need. In fact, chances are if you are reading this, you have an altruistic streak and want to be part of the solution for some of our world’s biggest issues.

The Gifts That Give Back movement, popularized by the likes of Oprah and Travel & Leisure, has changed the gift giving game for…good! The idea is to give a gift that gives back to the community, environment, or organization in some way. While the only tangible result will be the smile on the recipient of your gift, you’ll likely be causing someone, somewhere else to smile too.

So here’s to doing our part to spread merriment for the holidays.

All the gifts we’ve selected for this guide (our first ever!) are from some of our favorite spots around the world and directly support a cause we believe in.

India: Kantha Collection

These beautiful throws are made from reclaimed Sari material. They are reversible, hand-stitched, and made by female artisans, who support their families with the wages they make from the quilts. No two throws are alike and you can even customize your quilt.

Rwanda: Humanity Unified

Malas are traditional prayer beads and make great gifts for the jewelry lovers in your life. The Mala bracelets that Humanity Unified support two causes. They are made by women in India, who have no other employment prospects AND 100% of the proceeds go to HU’s poverty relief efforts in Rwanda. Each bracelet represents a prayer for the women the organization works with.

Mala Set by Humanity Unified. Photo courtesy of Humanity Unified.


Worldwide: Cotopaxi

For the outdoor lover in your life, Cotopaxi provides all the necessary gear to send them on their next adventure. The company funds organizations working toward sustainable poverty alleviation. They work with three key pillars when choosing a non-profit to fund: health, education, and livelihoods. Our product pick? The Luzon Del Dia. This 18-liter daypack is made of reclaimed material and the perfect pack for day trips. When you choose the “surprise me” option for your design, the employee who makes it has creative control over the product. No two bags are alike!

Mexico: Siestas for Fiestas

If your bum likes to look fabulous on the beach, the Siesta Beach blanket is for you! Sourced in Mexico, your purchase provides a family in Cancun with a Christmas dinner. Go ahead, take a siesta and soak up some sun while laying on one of these stylish blankets.

The Naharon (Pink). Photo courtesy of Siesta Fiesta.


USA: Parks Project

The USA is home to some of the most amazing National Parks in the entire world. The biodiversity in the states is varied and wonderous to explore. Accessing your inner John Muir is easy when you are wearing a shirt bought from the Parks Project. Each purchase directly funds one of 30 conservancies across the US, which provides the necessary funding to keep our National Parks thriving. Shoppers can choose from a variety of t-shirts and their matching projects (e.g.- Muir Woods Coin Tee).

Portugal: Bambeco

You aren’t the only one who looks good in a holiday sweater this year. That bottle of Chardonnay you just bought…will look soooo sexy in this Holly Leaf Wine Bottle Sweater from Bambeco. Each sweater is hand-woven with 100% felt wool, gathered by free-range sheep in Portugal. The product is crafted in an 80-year old factory that Bambeco bought and restored for the craftspeople of the village. This charming story gets even better, according to the Bambeco website “During the factory restoration, our craftspeople discovered antique handwritten pattern books in the original furniture—which are both still used today—and lovingly restored the vintage looms used by the original factory. Thus, bringing unique and beautiful art to the town once again.”

Holly Leaf Wine Bottle Sweater. Photo courtesy of Bambeco.


Guatemala: Hiptipico

Shopping for the ethical fashionista has never been easier than when you buy something from Hiptipico. Their line of bags, shoes, coffee, yoga accessories and more are colorful and fun. Oh, ya! They are also ethically made by indigenous women in Guatemala, using sustainable materials and showcasing their Mayan designs. The cherry on top? They also carry a line of vegan bags and shoes. Use the code HipSuitcase for 25% off your purchase!

Bonus product- Madagascar: Madécasse

Fair-trade, direct origin, heirloom chocolate from Madagascar…um, yes, please! Madagascar produces less than 1% of the world’s chocolate, so buying from Madécasse is a great choice.

Chocolate Gift Set. Photo courtesy of Madecasse.


Misty is the owner and founder of Green Suitcase Travel. She is a consultant, travel writer, and all around travel maven. When she is not traversing the world, spreading the news about sustainable travel, she is in Tucson, Arizona enjoying the desert.