Your Guide to Ethical Christmas Gifts

With Christmas coming up quickly, you’re probably looking for gifts to buy for your loved ones, and we know – it’s a stressful job! The paradox of choice leads to indecision, and finding presents that aren’t wasteful can be a tough task.

So how can you make this whole process easier? You shop for ethical gifts, and luckily we have a moral philosopher on hand to guide the way.

The one and only Peter Singer, who’s dedicated his life to understanding how to act morally even in the toughest of situations, has cracked the code to maximising the impact of every dollar you have to give.

So, this Christmas get inspired by Peter Singer, and let his philosophy guide you in your ethical gift giving.

Waste not, want not.

Has your mate already got everything they need? Do they dread the mountain of perfumes and novelty socks they get every year? Then they’ll probably love the gift of a donation in their name!

It seems obvious, but every Christmas we get bombarded with ads telling us that the perfect gift for those special people in our lives are pretty meaningless items. I mean, do your mates really want to “Celebrate the holidays the Paco Rabanne way”?

They’ll definitely appreciate that money that would have gone into the pockets of a multi-millionaire have instead been put towards a meaningful cause.

The Perfect Time for Effective Altruism

Peter Singer pioneered the idea of “effective altruism” – using a resource to its fullest potential to create the most positive change possible (check out our introduction to effective altruism to learn more.)

His not-for-profit organisation, The Life You Can Save, has spent years doing the math on which charities are the best in an effectively altruistic sense, taking the guesswork out of which cause to support as an ethical gift.

You can find their list of highly effective charities here, but the ones that stand out to us are listed below. Have a look, and know that no matter which cause you choose to make an ethical gift towards, you (and your loved ones) will be helping the lives of many, many people.

Donate a malaria net to someone who needs it

Guess what the most dangerous animal is. It’s not a lion or a shark. It’s a mosquito 🦟 Mosquitos kill a whopping 1 million people, and make 700 million people very sick each year.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. There’s a very simple, cheap and ethical solution – mosquito nets.

The Against Malaria Foundation “fund nets and ensure they are distributed and used.” They’ve come up with an amazing idea: when you buy mosquito nets as an ethical gift, the person whose name the donation was made to receives a link to track where the nets are being distributed. How great is that?

Grab something from the Oxfam shop

Oxfam is a confederation of 20 national organizations working together to fight poverty, its causes, and its effects. Oxfam’s work focuses on long-term development programs, emergency assistance, and political advocacy on issues including agriculture, education, health, climate change, emergency response, and more.

They’ve got a number of great looking Christmas cards that are tied to supporting specific causes, like helping displaced communities in refugee camps build and operate gravity-fed sewerage plants, and helping families escape poverty – talk about a great ethical gift!

Get them a Peter Singer book

If ethical presents aren’t your vibe, there’s always the option of giving your mates the gift of knowledge.

Peter Singer has written a long list of great books that tackle thorny moral issues, and a few seminal works that have impacted the lives of millions (including Animal Liberation which set the moral foundation for the animal rights movement, and The Life You Can Save which has guided many, including Bill Gates, in effectively using their money to help people around the world).

You can grab copies of some of his most influential works from our shop:

See Peter Singer LIVE

Would your friends and family love to see Peter Singer LIVE on-stage? We’re touring him across Australia and New Zealand (with a Virtual Event for those who can’t make it to an in-person show) in March/April 2022!

The net proceeds from the tour are being donated to The Life You Can Save in support of their efforts to alleviate global poverty, so when you buy a ticket you’re not only getting your mates a great night out, you’re also supporting a worthy cause – that’s a win-win!