Ethical gift ideas for responsible travellers

December 09, 2015
Urban Adventures

responsible traveller

If it’s better to give than receive (and we think it totally is), then these gift ideas might just be the best gifts you could ever give someone. That’s because you won’t just be giving something to a loved one, you’ll also be giving something back to the community that made it, or even to Mother Earth herself. From solar power to women power, here are a few gift ideas for that person who wants to save the world while they travel.

steripen water purifier

SteriPEN Ultra

Water purifier

We’re firm supporters of just saying no to bottled water, but we also understand that sometimes our stomachs don’t always cooperate with the local water supply. Instead of relying on bottled water (or soothing your dehydration with beer), you could opt for a sterilisation device such as the SteriPEN. While there are a few options on the market, the SteriPEN wins as our favourite because it actually kills viruses, so it can be used in places with really dodgy water.

Reusable toiletry bottles

They may be convenient, but pre-packaged bottles of shampoo can add up to a lot of waste. Even if they’re recyclable, they often get chucked into the trash — not to mention the health harm that comes with our over-reliance on plastic (the chemicals added to plastic have been found to alter hormones and have other negative effects on our bodies). The ones from GoToob are BPA- and PC-free and have a lifetime warranty.

scarf by Seven Women

Cashmere pashmina by Seven Women

Scarf or wrap

Scarves are great for covering your shoulders and head when you’re at temples or other religious sites, or even when visiting someone’s home in a conservative community — no responsible traveller ever leaves home without one (it was even the top-ranked must-have item in our holiday gift guide for travellers). Our In Focus tour partners at Seven Women in Kathmandu make great ones, but currently only ship to Australia (sorry, non-Aussies).

Eternal toothbrush

Toothbrushes typically don’t live a long life. Once the bristles start to wear down (or turn gross from being tucked into a carry-on), they go into the trash — and a landfill. But if you buy your traveller a Goodwell toothbrush, they won’t be one of the ones adding to the waste. The toothbrush has bristles made from biodegradable charcoal fibre, and the replaceable head is made from bamboo — and also biodegradable. So you can toss the bits in the compost instead of the trash (and order new heads via a monthly subscription service).

Bottle by Liberty Bottleworks

“Transit” bottle by Liberty Bottleworks

Reusable water bottle

Not all water bottles are created equal. We’re fans of the ones from Liberty Bottleworks, who make their bottles in the US entirely from recycled materials. The bottles themselves are also recyclable, so if you do have to toss it away one day, it won’t end up in a landfill. What’s more, Liberty has partnered with Travelers Against Plastic to encourage the use of reusable water bottles, and with SteriPEN to decrease plastic bottle waste.

Solar charger

Help your favourite traveller keep their devices charged, no electricity required. Solar chargers are especially great for trekking trips, so people can charge their phones and cameras without having to use the generators in tea houses and other local establishments that may have limited resources.

Donation to a cause

Stretch your gift-giving to include those who are less fortunate by donating to a friend’s favourite cause. If you’re stumped for ideas, Intrepid’s global gifts guide includes options such as supporting Syrian refugees in Turkey or helping animal welfare efforts in Cambodia. Once you’ve made your donation, you’ll receive a PDF that you can email or present to your friend or loved one.

Giving never felt so good, right?!