Feature Photo:Stefan Munder | Photo Above: Meanest Indian

Looking for something to give your friends and family this year instead of the traditional gifts that, let’s be honest, could potentially be thrown out or re-gifted anyway? The five companies listed below will either allow you to give a gift that (truly) keeps on giving or is something that is truly environmentally friendly/socially conscious. So forget sweaters and mug sets, check out this list for some great alternative gift ideas!

Microlending

Kiva.org

Kiva is a micro-lending company that has partnered with microfinancing corporations around the world. Potential entrepreneurs can apply for a loan, and once approved, he or she will have a profile uploaded onto the Kiva site that will include their photograph, bio, and why they want the money. Potential lenders can then search the profiles and choose who to lend money to based on country or service.

The money is then repaid over a set amount of time, and once it has been paid back, the lender can get their money back or reinvest in someone else. Kiva currently has a 98.99% repayment rate.

Give someone a Kiva card http://www.kiva.org/gifts (via email, regular mail, or print it at home) and then they can choose what person they are going to support in sending their children to school, becoming financially independent, or feeding their family.

Fair Trade

Equal Exchange

Equal Exchange is a site in which you can find a variety of products that are all fair trade. They offer gift packs with products like coffee, tea, and chocolate, but also things like clothing and bags from cooperatives in India and Lesotho.

Sustainability

Heifer International

Heifer International has set out to end world hunger by giving families the resources to be sustainable and support themselves. You can purchase an animal (everything from a water buffalo to a flock of chicks to a trio of rabbits) that can give the family food or help them create a small business. The children who once had to work or support their families can go to school and get an education.

Donate an animal in the name of a family member or friend.

Eco-friendly clothing

earth creations

This clothing line features organically grown cotton and hemp clothing and use natural clay dyes. Their sewing plant is located in Alabama in the United States, leading to an even smaller carbon footprint. earth creations also periodically donates clothing to organizations that are working to protect the Earth and/or nature.

Save a species

World Wildlife Fund

When you “adopt a species” in the name of someone else, they will get a stuffed animal of that species. This gift is great for educating children about the importance of supporting animals and how they may not be around forever (and why).

Save a life

UNICEF’s Inspired Gifts

Maybe you aren’t looking to give a gift to someone you know at all, but to a child that is far less fortunate than yourself. UNICEF’s Inspired Gifts program allows you to purchase lifesaving gifts for children in developing countries, such as water purification tablets, micronutrient powder, or tetanus vaccines (which are $20.60 for 412 doses of the vaccine).

Community Connection:

Looking for a more traditional gift for say, a traveler? Matador Goods has put together an Ultimate Guide: 100 Gift Ideas for Travelers.