11 Places to Shop That Will Give Back to Society Without You Lifting a Finger

Gift-shopping can be a traumatic experience. We’ve all been there – procrastinating to the very last minute, or accidentally letting an important occasion slip your mind until the very day itself. Hold your horses, don’t reach for that soft toy, gift voucher, or ‘personal’ card from Typo just yet.

Before you fork out money for these easily re-giftable, forgettable presents, here‘s something a whole lot better. Give a gift that keeps on giving: bring joy not just to the receiver, but to those who struggle to meet basic needs on a day-to-day basis, to our dying earth, to the children who don’t wake up to presents under a tree on Christmas morning.

Here’s our list of do-good products-with-a-purpose that go beyond and make our world a better place.

1. Saught Jewellery


Who this helps: Communities at risk in Cambodia

Give the gift of hope with Saught, a home-grown social enterprise retailing handcrafted jewellery pieces by local artisans. In the middle ages, the word ‘Saught’ was used to denote peace and reconciliation; true to its name, they seek to solve ‘impossible’ problems such as war, poverty and fear.


Over 646 sq km of Cambodia has yet to be cleared from unexploded ordinances left over from the Khmer Rouge era, rendering it unsafe for travel and unsuitable for agriculture.

Embedded in every piece of Saught jewellery are redeemed artillery shells recovered in Cambodia, making a bold statement against war and violence. The sale of such pieces also contribute to de-mining efforts, creating employment opportunities and freeing post-conflict communities from the vicious cycle of poverty. There’s a story behind every one.


Their hauntingly beautiful jewellery delivers a powerful message of love and hope – made by peacemakers, for peace-lovers.

Price: From USD$68 to USD$168 (subject to postage fee)
Website: http://saught.com.sg/

2. Meals from Kerbside Gourmet 


Who this helps: Lower income groups in Singapore

If you’ve seen the movie ‘Chef’, then you’ll know exactly what Kerbside Gourmet’s all about! Affectionately known as ‘Kerby’, this gourmet food truck hardly gets to move about, but has a ton to offer.

Serving upscale street eats and soul food like Cold Mentaiko Pasta and Aussie Beetroot Burgers, their food is made entirely from fresh, local produce. That means zero preservatives, additives and no MSG. Oh, if only Kerby could drive past my office now and again too.


Modelled after the BAMGAM (Buy A Meal, Give A Meal) concept, for every meal they sell, Kerby gives one gourmet-style meal to a family in need. For the less privileged who rely on soup kitchens for sustenance, food is a luxury, let alone gourmet meals. These meals on wheels truly go the extra mile to solve hunger in Singapore.


Share the love and bag a meal home to surprise a loved one and help make hunger history on our shores. So simple!

Price: From $2 to $15
Website: http://www.kerbsidegourmet.com/
Track Kerby’s movement here.

3. Louis Vuitton’s Silver Lockit Pendant


Who this helps: Children in Vulnerable Situations through UNICEF

Buying jewellery – no matter who it’s for – can be intimidating. Pandora pendants are too cliché, diamonds too expensive, and rings represent way too much of a commitment. Rather than settle for any ordinary seasonal piece of bling, I recommend Louis Vuitton’s Silver Lockit bracelets and necklaces instead.

As a global initiative with UNICEF, the original 1890 padlock pendants are meant to symbolise a promise of both love and commitment – not only to your significant other, but to children in need.

For every purchase, USD200 will be donated to UNICEF on your behalf to help children in vulnerable situations across the globe. So gift away and #MakeAPromise today!

Price: USD$500
Website: http://eu.louisvuitton.com/eng-e1/search/lockit
Find a Louis Vuitton near you here!

4. Wola Nani Papier Mâché Bowls 


Who this helps: Women Living With HIV and AIDS in Cape Town, Africa

Primary school me was obsessed with Papier Mâché, ever since that one fateful Art & Crafts module. I admit my handicrafts more often than not are not worthy enough to be displayed, let alone actually used. But the folks behind Wola Nani have thought up an ingenious way for these humble materials to help those living with HIV and AIDS in Cape Town earn a living. – paper mache bowl.

Made by a community of women in Cape Town suffering from HIV and AIDS, Wola Nina’s products generate income for them directly. Add a splash of colour to your home with their funky handmade paper mache bowls, ideal as a housewarming gift or just for holding odds and ends.


My favourite bowl? Definitely their classic bowl covered with reused sardine tin wrappers!

Price: From €22.40
Website: http://www.wolanani.co.za/
Address: 200 Turf Club Road, Singapore 287994, Chillax Market at The Grandstand

5. Bakes From The Ugly Cake Shop


Who this helps: Children in Timor-Leste

When all else fails, food will be your best friend – and sweet treats hold the key to anyone’s heart.

Don’t worry, their cakes are by no means ugly. The rationale behind their surprising and rugged name comes from the knowledge that ‘Pretty’ cakes typically contain artificial colouring, and an excessive amount of fondant or marzipans, which equates to fat and sugar levels being off-the-charts.


These ‘ugly’ cakes on the other hand, promote only the use of high quality ingredients, and beautifully balanced cakes. Driven by a desire to feed the hungry, the folks behind the Ugly Cake Shop have pledged 20% of their proceeds towards buying meat, eggs and other protein-packed ingredients to children from Shallom School in Dili, Timor-Leste.

Rustic, homemade cakes with a conscience – now that’s worth sacrificing your waistline for.

Price: Cupcakes from $3.80, Whole Cakes from $48
Website: http://www.uglycakeshop.sg/
Address: #01-06 GB Point 535 Kallang Bahru Singapore 339351

6. TOMS Footwear, Eyewear, Coffee

Who this helps: Children in Need in Over 70 Countries


You’re probably familiar with TOMS’ One For One™ Movement, where they match every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes for a child in need. Recently, they’ve expanded their outreach to give sight, water, safe birth and anti-bullying services too, evoking   change on an even larger scale.


It’s style meets substance, with the promise of social change. Surely you’ve seen their classic slip-on shoes around, but TOMS also produces other footwear wedges, boots, slippers, sandals, as well as eyewear and coffee, all for a good cause. Granted, their model is in no way perfect, but you’ve got to hand it to TOMS for spearheading the ‘fashion for social good’ movement.

Though TOMS has yet to open an outlet here, you can find their shoes at multi-label boutiques Rockstar and Pedder Red for your die-hard TOMS enthusiasts.

Price: From $89 a pair
Website: http://www.toms.com/
Rockstar: #03-08 Orchard Cineleisure 8 Grange Road Singapore 239695
Pedder Red: #03-04 Takashimaya Shopping Centre Singapore 238872 / Level 2 Scotts Square 6 Scotts Road Singapore 228209

7. Out Of Print Tees


Who this helps: Young People in Africa

Dedicated to celebrating classic literary gems, Out Of Print produces memorabilia in the form of apparels, totes, stationary and more. It’s like band merch for bookworms, featuring both iconic and out-of-print book covers from classics, modern novels and even beloved children’s books. Think titles like The Great Gatsby, Le Petit Prince and The Very Hungry Caterpillar.


Like TOMS, Out Of Print follows a one-for-one donation model – for every item purchased they will donate a book to a community in need through Books For Africa in a bid to boost literacy in underserved communities. Finding a good book to read is one of life’s little joys, so why not help the rest of the world read the books we all know and love too?

Price: Tees from USD$24

8. WeWOOD Watches


‘You buy a watch, we plant a tree.’

Who this helps: Mother Nature

Can we all agree that wooden watches are absolutely gorgeous? They make statement pieces, and add a bold accent to literally any outfit. Fashioned primarily from scrap-wood, WeWood’s watches are far from scrappy looking.

Hoping to plant 1 million trees by 2020, WeWOOD will plant a tree with every watch sold. With Earth’s lungs shrinking by the day, this 1 million could make all the difference. Apart from environmental rehabilitation, reforestation also goes toward helping farming families enhance food security.

I would trade all my other watches for one of this one in a heartbeat – their avant-garde approach to sustainability is a timely reminder how important restoring Mother Nature is.


Everyone has an inner tree-hugger, and they’ll surely cry out in joy with this eco-luxury statement timepiece strapped around their wrists.

Price: Tees from USD$24
Shipping Fee: USD$35
Website: http://we-wood.us/

9. Lush Charity Pot


Who this helps: Small Organisations 

Ah, LUSH. The brand that brutally assaults my olfactory system, and never fails to give me a fragrance-induced headache every time I’m within 5 metres of their store. Still, I find it hard to resist their “naked”, cruelty-free, handmade solid soap bars and bath bombs, because they’re just so crazy aesthetic.

Using minimal packaging, avoiding unsustainable ingredients like palm oil and being anti-animal testing all align with their environmental causes.

For the most bang for your buck, their Charity Pot Hand and Body Lotion is for you! With every purchase of this cocoa butter-based cream, 100% will be donated to small organisations championing environmental conservation, animal welfare and human rights.

Forget extravagantly packaged and over-perfumed hand creams – LUSH’s unisex products are perfect for gift exchanges since they aren’t divided along pink and blue gender lines, so you can’t go too off-kilter. This one’s a winner, and not just for your LUSH junkie friends.

Price: SGD$50 for 240g Charity Pot
Website: https://www.lushsg.com/
Find a LUSH store near you here!

10. Stone & Cloth Backpacks


‘Carry An Education.’

Who this helps: Beneficiaries of the Knock Foundation

Minimalist backpacks are perfect for your wanderlusting friends, and are guaranteed to bump their travel photos up on the hipster quotient. Favourites like Kankens and Herschels will easily set you back over a hundred dollars, but if you’re really willing to part with that lump sum why not spend it on a rucksack that gives back too?


Purchase a Stone & Cloth product and 10% of their profit goes directly to the Knock Foundation, aimed at funding education and scholarships for children in impoverished conditions. Rather than just giving handouts, it’s heartening to see the people at Stone & Cloth contributing to strengthening and empowering the Tanzanian community.

Price: From USD$110
Website: http://www.stoneandcloth.com/

11. Charles & Keith Limited Edition Items


Who this helps: Breast Cancer Foundation Singapore

I always feel a certain pride shopping at homegrown label Charles & Keith. So being able to include them in this list makes me even happier.

Honestly speaking, it’s hard to find charitable fashion collaborations that don’t look token or tacky – you’ll wear it a couple of times for show, and eventually toss it aside or donate them. Charles & Keith proves that sacrificing style for social responsibility is for scrubs with their long-standing collaboration with the Breast Cancer Foundation.

Last year, they launched soft grey loafers, with the universal pink ribbon symbol discreetly inscribed on the inner sole. The year before, a fun, eye-catching fuchsia zippered clutch. Both of which would be a great addition to any wardrobe, plus 10% of their sale proceeds will be donated to the foundation. I’m positive any girl wouldn’t mind receiving this as a gift!

Price: From $49.90
Website: http://www.charleskeith.com/sg/
Find a Charles & Keith near you here!

Shop For A Cause

Even the most ordinary gift can make extraordinary changes, so why settle for gifts that just give once? Take heart, there are brands out there not just driven by profit. Spread the cheer festivities with meaningful rather than convenient purchases – your retail dollars can go a long way towards making a difference in someone else’s life!

If you have other ethical gift ideas, feel free to let us know in the comments below. Happy gifting!

– See more at: http://thesmartlocal.com/read/meaningful-gifts#sthash.QrM9iVxx.dpuf

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