gift guide: gifts that give back.

December 5, 2016

gifts that give back | reading my tea leavesSince we find ourselves in a season of gift giving, I thought it might be nice this year to pull together just a few of the lovely things I’ve come across this season that also support a charitable mission. As always, I’ve chosen goods made by small, independent companies and artists. Some of these shops always contribute to a charitable cause, while others are owned by individual makers who have have decided to donate portions of their holiday profits to charities doing important work here at home during a complicated moment. If you know of other folks doing similarly stellar work—or if you’re doing it yourself—please don’t hesitate to share notes in the comments.

There Is An Alternative Print: Alice Saunders of Forestbound adapted an image found in a 1972 underground newspaper of her dad’s and made a limited edition letterpress poster printed by Repeat Press. 100% of proceeds from the poster to go the Disability Rights Center of New Hampshire. (We’re working on a protest art wall in our apartment and this print is headed there.)

Noland Baby Quilt: Block Shop textiles recently launched a limited edition run of baby quilts, hand printed on organic cotton in Bagru, India. Each year, Block Shop invests 5% of their proceeds to build and implement community healthcare programs for the cooperative of block printers who print their products.

Bertu Pillow: Designed in Brooklyn and handwoven in Ethiopia, proceeds from Bolé Road Textiles go to support self-sustaining economic development in the communities where their goods are made. 

Banana Leaf Basket: All profits from every sale at Indego Africa go to fund education initiatives for the artisans who make their products in Rwanda and Ghana. Services provided for their workers include business, vocational, technical, and sexual health training.

Handmade Quilts: On Saturday, December 10 from 11 AM – 2 PM PST, quilter Elizabeth McMurtry will be auctioning four of her handmade quilts through her Instagram account. Stay tuned to that space for upcoming details on individual quilts. Proceeds from the sale of the four quilts will be split between the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and the Sacred Stone Legal Defense Fund. (This post helps explain how to place your bid. Photo of the quilts by John Cranford.) 

Pour Over Coffee Set: The brand-new home goods shop, Jane and William, just opened a holiday preview shop featuring their pottery handmade in Upstate New York. They’ve partnered with to donate 100% of their profits to small business micro-loans. 

Alingo Rectangle Earrings: Proceeds from the sale of all goods at Mombasa go to support the nonprofit I Pour Life’s 10 x 10 program, “a women-led family empowerment program which seeks to end the cycle of extreme poverty and social isolation in Korah, Ethiopia.” More about Mombasa’s charitable giving, here.

Peace Print: Photographer Jamie Street gathered thirty women on a foggy morning to make this image. Last week she put it up for sale temporarily through her Instagram account. I bought one of these prints for our apartment, but just in case you missed it, Jamie’s extended her sale by two days for Reading My Tea Leaves readers. The 12″ x 18″ fine art print is printed on thick cotton rag paper and costs $65. (Optional gallery framing is available in natural, white, or black for an additional $100 without a mat; $150 with a mat.) 100% of print proceeds go to the ACLU. To place your order, email Jamie with your request at [email protected] by Tuesday, December 6 at 5:00 pm PST. 

Island-made Bags: Lissa Snapp of Barnacle Bags is donating 15% of her sales this week (December 4 – December 10) to the Sacred Stone Legal Defense Fund to support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe who have been protesting the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline on their sovereign land. (The Army Corp of Engineers decided to yesterday to deny the permit for the pipeline in that spot, but there’s still work to be done and resources that need giving.)

PS. A quick acknowledgement that a gift guide of this nature is a tricky thing to navigate. Buying a product with a charitable element can feel like it might obfuscate a greater need for direct action—and just yesterday we saw the impact of direct, on-the-ground action by the water protectors working to preserve sacred land in North Dakota—but it’s my sincere wish that this is a start in positive direction. In case it’s not goods you’re after, here’s my Charitable Giving Primer from last week.

PPS. I’m working on a longer post about voting with your wallets more generally. Stay tuned.

PPPS. Tradlands is still giving 25% of proceeds from this post to charity through the end of December.

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  • Reply Julia December 5, 2016 at 11:26 am

    I love these! The illustrator Carson Ellis is also currently running a beautiful print about moving forward; the proceeds benefit the ACLU:

    • Reply Erin Boyle December 5, 2016 at 11:31 am

      I love Carson Ellis! Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Reply Audrey December 5, 2016 at 12:03 pm

    Oh I just love the Peace Print. I ordered one as a gift to myself!

  • Reply Haylie December 5, 2016 at 12:07 pm

    Thank you so much for this list, Erin! One more, for any one interested: a friend of a friend here in Austin is donating the proceeds of this gorgeous print to the Sacred Stones camp in North Dakota. I think it’s so beautiful and am hoping to snag one myself for the holidays:

    • Reply Erin Boyle December 5, 2016 at 12:17 pm

      Lovely! Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Reply Melissa December 5, 2016 at 9:01 pm

      Thank you, Haylie! I’ve been stumped as to what to get my brother for Christmas and the print is perfect.

      And thank you, Erin, for another lovely post. I’ve been working on my own on mindfulness while shopping and your relentless motivation has been so helpful. I look forward to the proactive refuge your blog will provide over the next four years!

    • Reply Heather December 5, 2016 at 11:53 pm

      Oh my! Thank you so much for mentioning this print after this beautifully curated and thoughtful list.

      I am so moved that through this piece, I have been able to send the Sacred Stones Camp some help, as they continue their efforts into the next year. Today is a victory, but there is still a long road ahead.

  • Reply Lisa December 5, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    Nice! My gut feeling is that if people have crossed the tipping point of enough is enough, they will work for both small and big changes. If they haven’t, they won’t take that direct action anyway, and charitable gifts is at least something.

  • Reply Lo December 5, 2016 at 12:33 pm

    Thank you! I love this gift guide, and I loved your charitable giving primer as well.

  • Reply Anna December 5, 2016 at 1:42 pm

    Such a wonderful list of gifts. It’s so great to see more and more makers putting beautiful things into the world and also using them for social good. I did a series of greeting cards with a friend to support female farmers – 50% of them go to initiatives that support women in agriculture.

    • Reply Erin Boyle December 5, 2016 at 1:44 pm

      I love these, Anna! Thank you for sharing!

  • Reply lauren December 5, 2016 at 1:52 pm

    A beautiful collection, Erin!

  • Reply Camila December 5, 2016 at 2:01 pm

    Thank you so much for the lovely suggestions. I saw the photo of the women in a fog last week. Thought it was beautiful. Def will take a look at the other stuff as well. 🙂

  • Reply Alix December 5, 2016 at 2:34 pm

    Can you share a pic of your protest art wall once it’s complete? I’d love to see it!

    • Reply Erin Boyle December 5, 2016 at 2:39 pm


  • Reply rebecca December 5, 2016 at 2:36 pm

    that peace print is amazing. thanks for sharing this beautiful list.

  • Reply Rita Tocta December 5, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    Can’t wait for the longer post! Just read sad news about factories in Spain that make me go “ahhhhhhhh”. Buying anything nowdays means so much. Ps- I didn’t comment on your tradlands post but I wanted to say you look so beautiful! Glowing 🙂

    • Reply Erin Boyle December 5, 2016 at 2:52 pm

      Thanks so much, Rita!

  • Reply Olivia December 5, 2016 at 8:04 pm

    The Loyal Workshop is also an awesome company my husband and I have loved and supported over the years. Based out of Kolkata, India, they support women at risk by training and providing jobs through their fair-trade leather workshop products. Would love to see if you’re able to make a connection!

  • Reply Kate December 5, 2016 at 8:09 pm

    RMTL seems extra on-point lately — I’m really enjoying your thoughtful calls for positive action. Thank you, Erin! Looking forward to that longer post.

  • Reply Helen December 6, 2016 at 12:28 am

    I love this hand lettered poster– all proceeds going to ACLU! I bought one to hang in my classroom.

  • Reply Jillian December 6, 2016 at 2:56 am

    This is a wonderful article. Thanks for writing it!

  • Reply Willow Westwood December 6, 2016 at 6:34 am

    Thank you so much, especially for the immense care and thought with which you put together these articles. One little note: our friends at Standing Rock have specifically requested to be referred to as “Water Protectors” rather than “protesters.” Not trying to be critical of your wonderful work, just my little best effort to support you 🙂

    • Reply Erin Boyle December 6, 2016 at 9:09 am

      Thanks for the reminder. Have been careful to use that language in my past references but slipped up here. Editing now.

  • Reply Kate December 6, 2016 at 12:53 pm

    Thanks for putting this list together! I just emailed Jamie about the peace print–it would be the perfect gift for my little sister.

    I also love that you featured Indego Africa. One of my friends is on the board of advisors, and it has always seemed like a very worthy cause.

  • Reply Jacqui December 7, 2016 at 9:31 am

    Great ideas! I just purchased a bag from Lissa at Barnacle Bags and its gorgeous!!

  • Reply Kaitlyn December 9, 2016 at 10:42 am

    A ‘protest art wall’! I love it! I have a significant amount of movement-inspired pieces, but for some reason I always relegate them to my office/work space as heartfelt reminders instead of thinking about them also as art (even though some are handmade prints and others are big and splashy propaganda-like advertisements) which could be neatly assembled into a living room gallery wall. I just moved into a new apartment with a huge blank wall and this post hit me like a ton of bricks — duh! I already have a lot of amazing images to share. Thank you 🙂

  • Reply Emily December 11, 2016 at 3:38 pm

    Hi! I’m really impressed with how you’re integrating activism into your lifestyle blog. Of course elements have always been there on the sustainable/environmental fronts, but since the election you’ve really stepped it up and I just want to say thank you!

  • Reply megan December 13, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    Love this post!! I’m always looking to give gifts that benefit a charity. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Carla December 17, 2016 at 7:54 am

    Great post!

  • Reply Katherine December 30, 2016 at 11:36 am

    I purchased the Jamiestreet Peace print and I absolutely love it. Im stumped on how to frame it now, only cause I love it so much I want to preserve it FOR EVER!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE December 30, 2016 at 1:08 pm

      You could try a service like Framebridge or take it to a local frame shop to get a custom-sized gallery frame made for it!


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