It’s that time of year again: when millions of Americans frantically search for the perfect present to give to their loved ones over the holidays. But buying gifts can be stressful, especially for progressives who want their presents to reflect their values. Worse, if you’re like many of us, you probably waited until the last minute to start buying things. For example, right now.
Never fear, dear readers! Whether you’re celebrating Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, Festivus — or just want to get your friends and family something awesome — the ThinkProgress staff has a few suggestions to help you snag gifts that are ethical and amazing.
“And Counting” T-Shirt from Gloss Rags
Gloss Rags, a small fashion label based in Washington, D.C., has a simple tagline for its T-shirts: “Fight Amnesia.” The shirts are emblazoned with the names of unarmed black Americans who were killed by the police under suspicious circumstances, exposing just how deadly the criminal justice system can be for people of color. Some have become household names — and subsequent rallying cries for racial injustice — while others have faded into obscurity. Buy a T-shirt and play a small part in the collective act of refusing to forget their lives. Gloss Rags proceeds that don’t get put back into production are donated to organizations such as the Trayvon Martin Foundation, the Amadou Diallo Foundation, and Hands Up United. — Tara Culp-Ressler, ThinkProgress Senior Editor
Buy this and other shirts here.
Rebel Nell Jewelry
Rebel Nell is an women-led organization that repurposes graffiti (an abundant local resource in Detroit) into unique, one of a kind jewelry and cufflinks. It employs women from local homeless shelters and offers them the opportunity to learn a craft. It also offers classes on entrepreneurial skills and financial literacy so the women are empowered by their employment. — Beenish Ahmed, World Reporter
Grab some Rebel Nell swag here.
Oliberté, owner of the world’s first Fair Trade Certified footwear manufacturing factory, has an unusually worker-focused approach to business; one of their goals is to kick-start a manufacturing sector in sub-Saharan Africa. All of their shoes are made in a factory in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where workers are paid fair wages (“whether or not there is electricity to make shoes that day”), offered overtime, granted maternity leave, and have the opportunity to form workers’ unions. Their materials are sourced locally from one of the most environmentally progressive tanneries in the world, and 60 percent of their staff is women.
Oh, and the shoes look and feel amazing — I know, because I wear them every day. — Jack Jenkins, Senior Religion Reporter
Pick up a pair of Olibertés here.
A lover of literature? Get a t-shirt, tote or poster designed by the cool people at Litographs. Each product is composed from the text of your favorite novel, poem, or children’s book and with each purchase, the company sends a book to a community in need. — Victoria Fleischer, Video Producer
Peruse Litographs’ expansive clothing line here.
Tickets to see the musical ALLEGIANCE
What better gift than an entertainment experience with an important message? At Broadway’s Longacre Theatre, the cast of ALLEGIANCE tells the story of one of the darkest moments in American history — the internment of more than 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. As the nation considers immigration reform and how to deal with Syrian refugees, everyone can learn an important history lesson from George Takei, Lea Salonga, Telly Leung, and this outstanding musical theater cast. — Josh Israel, Senior Investigative Reporter
Check out ALLEGIANCE and buy tickets here.
Tickets to women’s sporting events
Tickets to women’s sporting events are a fantastic gift — not only are they a fun family outing, but they’re typically much more affordable than comparable men’s leagues. This winter, you can get tickets for the inaugural National Women’s Hockey League season for less than $20 a ticket, or plan ahead for the summer by buying season tickets for a National Women’s Soccer League team for as low as $100. You can also show your support by buying merchandise, or by checking out the other schedules — such as the WNBA, LPGA, and WTA — to see if there’s an elite women’s sporting event coming your way; it’s a great opportunity to see the best athletes in the world up close and help teams and leagues that need the support. — Lindsay Gibbs, Sports Reporter
Virtual reality is for more than video games. It’s the cheapest way to experience the future of journalism, putting the viewer front-and-center in the lives of everyday people. Cardboard or Dodocase will let you take a boat ride with a refugee, look to the sky for a food aid drop, and ride in the back of pick-up truck on the way to work without leaving your cubicle. — Lauren C. Williams, Tech Reporter
Check out a wide range of Google Cardboard viewers — many made with recycled paper — here.
Planet Earth DVD
At a time when global environmental concerns are growing but Americans are spending less and less time outside, it’s important to reiterate just how awesome the natural world is. Planet Earth is an oldie, but its sweeping images of life on our planet — not to mention its journalistic achievement — are unparalleled. It’s also incredibly fun to watch, and a great reminder of what environmentalists fight for. — Emily Atkin, Politics Reporter
Buy the Planet Earth DVD (or Blu-ray) set on Amazon here.
Isn’t there something kind of sad about a trash bag filled with wrapping paper, discarded after the annual orgy of consumption we inculcate our children to enjoy? Just stop. My best idea about what you can get your loved ones this year is less. Buy them less. Take them to dinner or make them a card with a gift certificate to a favor only you can bestow. Support your local economy and get them a massage or take them horseback riding. Make dinner for them (or order take-out, I don’t care) and actually listen when they talk during it. Just stop going into stores, buying plastic-wrapped pieces of plastic, wrapping them in paper, and throwing the whole cheap thing out when it breaks six months from now. We have enough. — Samantha Page, Climate Reporter
Children’s toys have become more gendered than ever, and girls are most often steered toward princesses and kitchen sets while boys’ toys are about building and making things. What sounds a bit insignificant can actually have long-term effects in girls’ lives, pushing them away from fields like science and engineering when they get the message that it’s not for them. That’s what GoldieBlox wants to change. As the company says itself, “We aim to disrupt the pink aisle and inspire the future generation of female engineers.” It’s a perfect gift for any curious girl — or boy! — in your life who wants to get creative and build stuff. — Bryce Covert, Economics Editor
Buy GoldiBlox’s toys here.
Raspberry Pi Computers
Computer literacy is an increasingly vital skill, but the cost of computer hardware can put the opportunity to learn it out of reach for many. The people behind Raspberry Pi, a UK-based charity, want to change that. They make programmable computers the size of a credit card that range from $5 to $70 for a complete set of hardware — but you have to assemble and program them yourself. The possibilities are endless: people have used the computers to make everything from solar energy monitoring systems to Twitterbots. For the next generation, consider giving your daughters or nieces a Kano kit, which includes a Raspberry Pi and all the hardware and instructions necessary for kids as young as six to build and code their own computer. Women still lag far behind men in both technology jobs and degrees, but giving girls an easy and fun entry to computer programming at an early age can help close that gap. — Laurel Raymond, ThinkProgress Special Assistant
Caffeine for a cause! Just Coffee is delicious, fair trade, shade grown coffee sourced from farmer-owned cooperatives, including Zapatista communities in Southern Mexico. By cutting out the middle men, the direct trade model allows the farmer to get a fair wage that’s less vulnerable to global price swings, which helps them stay in their communities rather than being forced to migrate to find work. — Alice Ollstein, Politics Reporter
Check out Just Coffee’s cornucopia of caffeinated deliciousness here.
Art makes an great, unique gift, and even better if it’s made by one of the millions of Americans behind bars. A number of prisons across the country offer art programs for their inmates — not only does art have therapeutic and rehabilitative benefits, but research shows it also increases prisoners’ self-esteem. The Safe Streets Arts Foundation, based in Washington, D.C., sells art made by prisoners across the country and uses the proceeds to buy art supplies for the inmates. The organization also hosts a showcase of plays and music written by prisoners in Washington, D.C. each year. — Kira Lerner, Politics Reporter
Head over to buy some of the art by clicking here.
Treinta Días by La Santa Cecilia
During their Grammy acceptance speech, the Spanish-language rock band La Santa Cecilia dedicated its award to undocumented people “that still need to live a more dignified life in this country.” The group’s strong support for immigration reform is unsurprising given that Jose “Pepe”, one of the band members, is himself an undocumented immigrant. One song in particular, “El Hielo” (“the ice”) refers to the federal government’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) program, with the music video featuring high-profile immigrant activists. — Esther Lee, Immigration Reporter
Pick up their music here.
Repeater by Fugazi
This album from D.C.’s massively influential post-hardcore band is a must-listen for any music fan in your life. If you’re a fan of any alternative band from the past couple decades, chances are Fugazi had an influence on them. Fugazi was beloved for not only making kickass music, but also for their resistance to the often shady business practices of the music industry (three cheers for any band that actively tries to keep ticket prices low!). Fugazi has also done countless benefits for progressive organizations and non-profits in the D.C. area. — Patrick Smith, Social Media Reporter
Pick up a copy of their music from Dischord records here or at your local record store.
Summertime ’06 by Vince Staples
Vince Staples’ latest album, Summertime ’06, got a lot of attention for being fantastic, which it is. But Summertime ’06 is also a deeply political album, reckoning with a lack of hope in politics (“I never vote for presidents/the presidents that change the hood/is dead and green”) and Staples’ discomfort at performing for a sea of white fans who can’t understand the context of his music — all with an intricate storytelling style that packs an incredible amount of detail into every line. It all comes together to form a portrait of the world where the government doesn’t intrude on the suffering and poverty of black Americans except to shoot and arrest, and the only way to lift yourself up is to commit crime and kill, suffering the legal and emotional consequences. It is a dark story, but a very real and necessary one for progressives to try and understand. — Andrew Breiner, Social Media Reporter
Pick up the record here.
No gift list is complete without shameless self promotion! So buy my book, Injustices: The Supreme Court’s History of Comforting the Comfortable and Afflicting the Afflicted. Injustices tells the history of the Supreme Court through the eyes of the people it has hurt the most — children forced to labor in coal mines, freed slaves massacred without consequence, workers left helpless against rapacious employers, and, of course, the American voter, who is now seeing his or her own right to self-governance stripped away by the conservative Roberts Court. Sadly, Injustices is more than history. It is a window into what the future could very well look like if the next president moves the Court further to the right. — Ian Milhiser, ThinkProgress Justice editor
Buy Injustices on Amazon here.
Colorblind: The Rise of Post-Racial Politics and the Retreat from Racial Equity is a highly empirical look at why “one race, the human race” is harmful to people of color. It’s a quick read that’s full of facts that will stick in your head and are easy to pull out the next time someone says “I don’t see race”. — Phoebe Gavin, Social Media Editor
Snag a copy of Colorblind here.
A Small Key Can Open A Large Door
A Small Key Can Open A Large Door looks at the movement for an independent, socialist Kurdistan, one of the longest running modern resistance movements. It looks specifically at the YPG and YPJ fighters and how a ragtag group of mixed-gender fighters defeated ISIS and protected the experiment for democratic confederalism in Rojava. — Dylan Petrohilos, Digital Reporter
Pick up a copy from AK Press here.
The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle
2015 marked a landmark year for the progress of LGBT equality in the United States, but it’s a journey that’s taken the better part of a century. The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle documents that journey in breathtaking detail and has been praised by some of the pillars of the movement for its comprehensiveness and authenticity. Celebrate how far we’ve come by looking back at what we endured to get here. — Zack Ford, LGBT Editor
Get your hands on a copy here.
The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates
Two children, both named Wes Moore, grew up in the same city, in similar neighborhoods, in single-parent homes. One child grew up to commit armed robbery and was given a life sentence for murder while the other child eventually became a White House fellow, Rhodes scholar and combat veteran. Although Moore writes that he could have easily had a similar fate to the imprisoned Moore, several important people in his life, whether family members or educators, showed that they had high expectations for him, helping him to overcome some of the obstacles he faced. — Casey Quinlan, Education Reporter
Pick up a copy of The Other Wes Moore here.
A subscription to your local street newspaper
Street newspapers’ articles, penned by both professional journalists and people experiencing homelessness, shine an important light on social issues often flying under the radar. Share these smart stories as a gift, while knowing your money is going back to help the local homeless community. Find your local street publication on this map to request a subscription — or track down your neighborhood vendor and pick up the latest edition. — Alex Zielinski, Health Reporter
Find your local street newspaper using the INSP locator here.
Donate to Planned Parenthood
Help Planned Parenthood help women! Planned Parenthood does fantastic, vital work — even in the midst of threats and violence — for women all across the country. Any donation you make between now and the end of the year gets doubled. How very merry. — Jessica Goldstein, Culture Editor
You can donate to Planned Parenthood here.
Donate to Girls Going Global
Girls Going Global gives young black girls the opportunity to learn more about the world through travel and cultural immersion. In addition to taking them around the world, GGG hosts domestic events to expose young girls to unique traditions and customs from around the globe. Donations go toward international trinkets, domestic cultural activities, passports, and activities abroad. — Carimah Townes, Justice Reporter
Adopt a wild/farm animal
Doesn’t everyone want a three-toed sloth or snowy owl to call their own? Several environmental, wildlife, and farm animal rescue organizations do symbolic adoptions, where the money donated for the adoption goes towards efforts to protect a species or (in the case of a farm animal rescue organization) care for an animal. For critically endangered and little-known species, like the kakapo, a symbolic adoption can make a huge difference in the fate of the species. Many groups, such as the World Wildlife Fund and Audubon Society, send adopters a stuffed animal version of the species — others, like Farm Sanctuary, send a certificate of adoption and the chance for adopters to meet their animal if they make it up to one of Farm Sanctuary’s shelter locations. — Katie Valentine, Deputy Climate Editor
You can check out Katie’s links above, or start at the Audubon Society’s website here.
Donate winter clothes to refugee children in Oakland
Yes, even sunny Oakland gets cold in the winter. Newly arrived Guatemalan refugee students often land in the U.S. without winter gear, and they really need it — many of them left their homes abruptly and wind up in the States without proper clothing for the winter. A small donation to the Oakland Public Education Fund will help refugee students get outfitted for California’s blustery, wintery days. It’s a small-scale donation that will make a big difference. — Erica Hellerstein, Investigative Reporter
Check out the donation website here.
Adopt a local rescue dog
Adopt a local rescue dog! If you’re in the D.C. metro area, Rural Dog Rescue rescues dogs from shelters in M.D., V.A., and D.C. that have a kill rate of 70 percent or higher and gives dogs that are less likely to get adopted another chance at surviving and having a home. They hold adoption events at Howl to the Chief in Southeast D.C. every Saturday and Sunday and rely on weekly volunteers. Fill out your paperwork before going to an adoption event and maybe you’ll go home with a new buddy for the holidays! — Jessica Calorossi, ThinkProgress Intern
Check out Rural Dog Rescue here.