Our footprint – the impact we have on the environment and the world around us – is often spoken about in negative terms. But what about the positive impact we can make through conscious consumption, investment, or purchasing decisions? This holiday season, we can choose to buy gifts that are lasting, memorable or meaningful for our loved ones AND the organizations and individuals these gifts empower or support.
Making sustainable, eco-friendly purchasing decisions doesn’t have to be limited to the holiday season. Shopping and gifting with mindfulness and awareness is a habit you can cultivate 365 days a year. According to behavioural experts, it takes us 21 days to form a new habit. By consciously researching and choosing products that support fair trade organizations, sustainable farming, organic products or a cause close to your heart, you are building your conscious consumer muscle every day.
This year has been a challenge, and because of this, many people seem to be embracing the holiday spirit. But due to the continued lockdown and restrictions in parts of the world, much of what we associate with the holiday season has been put on hold: the parties, large family gatherings, a kiss under the mistletoe.
But what is the one thing that has prevailed? The spirit of giving. And this is something we can share from afar or with those closest to us at home.
In that spirit, Millie has compiled a collection of gift ideas that support local business here in Toronto and select organizations and independent shops that we have built a relationship with during our travels.
We LOVE Holt Renfrew's H Project. Not only because the Sitti x Millie Gift Box is a featured product, but because their Sustainably Made collection aims to inspire a new generation of purposeful luxury and drive positive change in the world. Each product is selected and identified based on its artisanal craftsmanship, responsible production and materials, and/or charitable contributions.
Learn more about The Sustainably Made Collection. Shop Now!
For women who love the healing power of crystals and semi-precious stones set in refined, exquisitely styled jewelry. Handmade with love by Toronto healer, certified hot yoga instructor and entrepreneur Lisa Agranove, each Lisa Maxwell piece features materials sourced from the earth. Lisa has always felt guided by an intuitive process when working with gemstones and believes that this is due to the energy contained within the stones. Share some of these positive vibes with your loved ones while supporting a local, independent business.
We have included cuddle + kind in our hand-picked list because their dolls are the perfect gift for the children in your life (and for those who are a child at heart). cuddle + kind’s stuffed toy animals are handknit in Peru using sustainable, fair trade practices. Safe and non-toxic, each plush toy is made with premium cotton yarn and is stuffed with hypoallergenic polyfill. And the best part? Each doll purchase provides 10 meals to children around the world.
Available at Holt Renfrew's H Project. Shop now.
Empower the ones you love. You might recognize the name Lina Khalifeh from a recent episode of The Millie Podcast. Jordanian-born Lina Khalifeh is the founder of SheFighter, the first self-defense studio for women in the Middle East. SheFighter, which is now in more than 35 countries, helps to empower women physically, mentally, and emotionally through self-defense training.
The SheFighter online course is perfect for this unique holiday season – it can be purchased, redeemed and enjoyed 100% online! Not all gifts have to be in-person, and what better way to make someone feel special than equipping them with the tools to feel strong. SheFighter classes are offered at different levels and are easy to follow. Start with the Pink Level self-defense course, the basic/beginner level of the SheFighter system that teaches basic stances, blocks, punches, kicks and combos. When you gift the SheFighter course, you’re not only supporting this global movement, you are empowering the women in your life to push their limits -- physically and mentally.
Still want to give something that can be held in your hands (or worn on them)? Add these perfect companions to the online course to your purchase: Lina’s incredible memoir She Fighter: From Trouble Maker to Global Change Maker or the very pink, very amazing SheFighter Famous Boxing Gloves.
Become a SheFighter. Shop Now.
For the beauty junkies in your life or those looking for a self-care pick-me-up. Victoria and her female-focused self-care studio have been part of the Millie family for years. And we have never relied on a product more than Victoria’s new and improved Radford 24k Gold Hydrogel Face Mask (before lockdown, when we were travelling, and now, when we need an at-home pick-me-up). Perfect for all skin types, this hydrating boost is a great gift that won’t break the bank. Radford promotes clean beauty and strives to use sustainable packaging for its products and reduce non-reusable packaging whenever possible – they never over-box their products.
“To me, clean beauty is about finding the best ingredient for the best outcome. We strive to be as natural as we can be but we also want our products to work. If a synthetic ingredient is necessary in a specific instance, we make sure it's thoroughly safety-vetted and approved. We'll always be transparent about our formulations so you can feel good about you skin from the inside out.”
- Victoria Radford
Support service-based businesses during lockdown. Eye Love Beauty Bar’s philosophy is all about emphasizing and celebrating natural attributes for a beautifully defined face. Founded in 2011 by Mary Dang, Eye Love has built a loyal following and is known for creating the best natural eyebrow shaping, natural lash services and non-toxic beauty retail. Lockdowns and restrictions have made it difficult for service-based businesses, including hair salons and beauty bars.
The Original Winter Boot. If you can’t give someone a warm hug in person, give them the gift of cozy, comfy warmth. Manitobah Mukluks is an indigenous-owned company and their vision is to build a vibrant, global brand that makes a significant impact in Indigenous communities. As part of their 2020 Artist Series program, Manitobah Mukluks collaborated with talented Indigenous artists from across North America to create wearable art that tells a story.
Your gift can help provide safe, clean drinking water. The Always Giving Collection of giftable reusable, sustainability made water bottles helps make an impact where it’s needed the most. Every purchase unlocks a $5 donation to support charitable partners around the world. Due to COVID-19, communities need urgent access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programs.
In Ontario, those living in First Nations communities need funding for training programs that will help provide safe and clean drinking water for future generations. $5 from each purchase helps fund project elements like water quality monitoring, the implementation of hand-washing stations, increasing the supply of safe piped water, training programs, and more. The free Fill it Forward app experience also allows users to track their environmental impact and support meaningful charity projects every time they reuse.
Shop the Always Giving Collection.
At Jump Thru Hoops, their community outreach program is part of their ‘pay it forward’ mission, encouraging players to support those who are in need. They have recently launched a pet holiday card campaign, proceeds of which will go to Jump Thru Hoops to support a hot meal campaign for families who are struggling financially.
Jump Thru Hoops is a basketball institute and a youth development organization that focuses on training athletes at every level, starting from grassroots, right to the premiere leagues. Their goal is to improve each player, at every level of play. The program includes mentoring players on and off the court, educational support and tutoring, SAT prep for those attending schools in the US, career counselling and more. Unfortunately, their basketball programs were all delayed due to Covid-19, but they anticipate being able to launch programs in spring of 2021.
Support Jump Thru Hoops. Be in touch with Jump Thru Hoops to create your special holiday card by connecting with: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Al-Rahmeh Means 'Mercy' in English. Al-Rahmeh for Animals is a shelter in Amman, Jordan that helps animals through rescue projects, adoption, fostering and education programs. This small organization, which is powered by a few dedicated members, one full-time employee and a handful of volunteers, is currently caring for more than 45 dogs. Al-Rahmeh founders Lubna Kasbari and Noor Qusous work tirelessly to end the abuse and neglect of the Canaan Dog, a breed considered to be the quintessential 'street dog' in Jordan. Canaans make up 95% of Al-Rahmeh's pup population.
Millie has a very special connection to Al-Rahmeh. During our last trip to Jordan, Millie founder Chelsea Brown rescued a Canaan puppy who she named Poppy. Al-Rahmeh helped Chelsea get medical attention for Poppy and bring her home to Canada.
Be a Secret Santa for one of the Al-Rahmeh dogs and make a donation on behalf of a loved one! A gift that’s a gift…is the best kind of gift!
However you celebrate your holiday this year, let’s further boost the feel-good vibes we get from gift giving by purchasing sustainable products that not only put a smile on the faces of our loved ones, but also support independent businesses and give back to causes we care about. And we don’t have to limit conscious consumerism to the holidays: When Millie discovers new products, independent businesses, or organizations, we’ll add it to this list.
The Millie Team