Gift it forward to spread love, actually
TOPIA’s Jolly Good Gift Guide 2022
Looking for a new subwoofer, foot spa or Playstation? You’re in the wrong place. This is just about the really good stuff – as recommended by Beatie Wolfe, Love Ssega, Jill Heinerth, DJ Yoda, Lisa Snowdon and more people keeping the planet cool
Note: We do not get commission from any purchases. We’re just sharing the love.
Whether you’ve been naughty, nice or are enraged by that binary – and celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah or that poor sod whose birthday is on 1 January – we’ve got you covered.
It’s the final fortnight of 2022, the last awkward gulp of a mesmerisingly dreadful year. Traditionally, ’tis the season to be jolly, excessive and generous, but rising living costs are just the frosting on the panettone of this winter of discontent. The good news is that nobody will accuse you of being a Scrooge if you give them a hand-drawn card of a hummingbird in a hat with some mind-meltingly meaningful words. Written in pencil. And then ask for it back. It’s been that kinda year.
Few things spark joy more than giving to others, but shopping as we know it is becoming outdated. We simply don’t need more stuff. However, if you want to put your dosh where it matters and feel damn good that your choices support great initiatives, this is TOPIA’s guide to 11th hour gifts with a twist of good. No greenwashing or ode to conspicuous consumption here.
We asked an iceberg cave diver, a superstar DJ, a bunch of musicians, artists, authors, conservationists and more friends of TOPIA for their favourite gifts that give back. You know, the presents that spread love, actually. So here it is: your good list to end a bad year.
1. Beatie Wolfe
Good Gift: Arbor Day celebration trees
Musical visionary and eco-activist Beatie Wolfe has beamed her music into space, set NASA climate data to music, featured with R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe on the world’s first commercially available bioplastic record (which is produced by Brian Eno) and is working to preserve music with the Global Music Vault.
“A gift I find myself continually returning to is the gift of planting trees for others from the Arbor Day Foundation. You can get a printed card sent to the recipient but I prefer to save the paper and go with a digital PDF. You can either pick the forest these trees are planted in or choose ‘a forest of great need’, which is my preferred option. And people seem to be really happy with their celebration trees so it’s a win-win. If you buy the new book from CEO Dan Lambe, Now Is the Time for Trees, the Arbor Day Foundation will plant one tree for each book sold.
This year I will ► Support: our Mother Earth. Focus on: what my energy can affect. Do less: instead of “do less”, I’d say waste less.
2. Lisa Snowdon
Good Gift: Mr B’s Emporium subscription
Celebrity MasterChef winner, TV presenter and passionate wellness podcaster Lisa Snowdon campaigns with the Menopause Mandate for free HRT in the UK.
“I love Mr B’s Emporium as it makes the most thoughtful gifts. You fill in a reading questionnaire and it handpicks you books by appointing a ‘bibliotherapist’. It is the gift that keeps on giving as you can buy somebody a 12-month subscription, and each month a beautifully wrapped book arrives. A specific book I would also recommend is Food & Wellness, a wonderful collection of vegetarian and vegan recipes with contributions from people like Rick Stein, Florence Pugh and Huw Edwards. All proceeds go to Sobell House Hospice, which looks after people with life-limiting conditions.
This year I will ► Support: my local community, especially the Essex & Herts Air Ambulance helicopter crew, which I have recently become an Ambassador for. Focus on: my health and happiness, being more present in the moment, and being around people I love. Do less: worrying and multi-tasking, as they are both unproductive and a waste of time.
3. Jos van der Hoek
Good Gift: Choose Love ‘Gifts with Heart’
Jos van der Hoek is the founder of Face This, a Dutch charity that brings together international street artists with Indonesian school kids to help them turn drawings into merch to support the children’s education.
“I am a T-shirt nerd. Especially when tees do good, I’m a fan. One brand I really like is Choose Love. As well as being online, they have pop-up shops in London and New York where you can buy T-shirts, yes, but also life-saving interventions which go to refugees and displaced people across the world. Making you a sort of anonymous Secret Santa.
This year I will ► Support: a new Indonesian school through the Face This foundation. Focus on: more creative ways to collaborate with Indonesian school children. Do less: worrying about the future and start living in the now more.
4. Jill Heinerth
Good Gift: Water.org donation
A real-life mermaid, Jill Heinerth is the world’s top underwater cave explorer. Awarded for her lifetime work in exploration, the photographer and filmmaker has led expeditions everywhere from Antarctica to Siberia.
“I love giving to a charity, such as Water.org in a friend’s name. I prefer not to proliferate more stuff in the world. Water is essence of life and when we offer a community access to safe drinking water then kids can carry backpacks to school instead of carrying water for their family. Most often, it is the girls in the family who miss out on school to fetch and carry water, so this gift is about the essence of life and hope for a future generation of young women.
This year I will ► Support: young people by connecting them to the environment and making them aware of ways to feel positive about change. Focus on: learning and listening. Do less: doom-scrolling through the world news.
5. Love Ssega
Good Gift: Indie bookstore vouchers
Born and raised in south-east London, songwriter-scientist Love Ssega uses music and filmmaking to campaign against localised air pollution.
“The best gift is an old-fashioned paper book voucher! Especially ones that are for spending at local independent bookshops. It is important to build community and support local businesses, to keep money within the community and away from big online shops without green practices. My local shop is the magical Moon Lane Books, who specialise in children’s literature and are dedicated to addressing ‘inequity of access, representation and roles in the publishing industry’. Support them buying their paperback gifting subscription and visiting Bookshop.org.
This year I will ► Support: more artistic voices who want to use their art and talents to show a better future. Focus on: fewer distractions.
Do less: worrying and more creating – there’s a lot to create!
6. DJ Yoda
Good Gift: The Wave Project products
Multi-award-winning superstar turntablist DJ Yoda scrambles pop culture clips into mashups to make us feel good. He’s just released a new album, Prom Night.
“I recently got to check out The Wave Project. They are using adapted surf boards to take people with physical disabilities out surfing. It’s so cool, brings so much joy and they do an incredible job. All of the profits from the products at their Surf Therapy Shop support young people around the UK. Seems like a positive venture to support to me!
This year I will ► Support: local businesses instead of large corporate entities. Focus on: a new album. Do less: social media.
7. Zoe Adjonyoh
Good Gift: Ade Dehye ethical fashion
Zoe Adjonyoh is the founder of Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen, a supper club, restaurant and catering business decolonising the food industry; creator of the Black Book platform and host of the Cooking Up Consciousness podcast.
“Tunde (Akintunde Ahmad) is turning the global north’s (majority white) fashion waste that’s landing on Ghana’s doorstep for landfill into high end streetwear and fashion for the diaspora. Ade Dehye is his upcycled fashion brand, made in ghana by Ghanaian for the African diaspora and beyond. I’m here for it.
This year I will ► Support: when I have something to pour. Focus on: filling my own cup. Do less: leaking and pouring energy into unreciprocal relationships.
8. Bobby Palmer
Good Gift: Big Wild Thought sweatshirts
New author Bobby Palmer‘s Isaac and the Egg is an original story of love, grief and finding hope in the unexpected. It is making all the Best Book of 2022 lists.
“I’m obsessed with all of the Big Wild Thought sweatshirts because the animal illustrations are really tasteful and they’re made with comfy, sustainable organic cotton. What I love the most about them, though, is that a portion of the profits goes towards a charity which supports the animal upon it: lobster sweatshirts contribute to the Marine Conservation Society, otter sweatshirts towards the International Otter Survival Fund, and so on. The one featuring a cool little embroidered fox supports The Fox Project – one of my favourite UK charities, who do amazing work rescuing and rehabilitating ill and injured foxes.
This year I will ► Support: under-represented writers. Focus on: the people and things I love. Do less: doom-scrolling.
9. Yeye Weller
Good Gift: Le Puzz puzzles
You will have spotted German artist Yeye Weller‘s illustrations everywhere from The New York Times, to walls in London, to skateboards and T-shirts. His holy trinity is “colour, mood and balance”. The aim? To make people happy.
“What’s better for your mind then taking a break, having a drink, listening to good music and doing a puzzle?! I love the little puzzles that that illustrator Angela Kirkwood did together with Brooklyn-based Le Puzz. They are affordable, reusable and wonderfully nostalgic. The paper they use comes from sustainable forests, and every puzzle donates to the Boys & Girls Club of America after-school programmes.
This year I will ► Support: local, small businesses who produce supernice stuff with passion and love. Focus on: my leisure time and having fun. Do less: plans and reduce my expectations.
10. Carrie Reichardt
Good Gift: Aida Wilde X Choose Love artwork
Carrie Reichardt is the anarchist, feminist, craftivist creator of the Mad in England brand. She is renowned for her inspiring mosaic murals and tilework championing women and working with community groups around the world.
“Aida Wilde is a fantastic artist and these Choose Love Gold bank notes were curated for a book and show I co-curated called Cash is King a few years ago. Proceeds are donated to Choose Love’s Urgent Fundraiser To Support Afghan refugees. Aida is currently on show at the fabulous Defaced! Money, Conflict, Protest show at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, UK. It is the first major exhibition to explore a 250-year history of protest, using currency as a canvas and vehicle for rebellion.
This year I will ► Support: those around me who need it. Focus on: my community and public art. Do less: social media.
11. Cheryl Alexander
Good Gift: Baby Animal Prints
Cheryl Alexander is a conservation photographer, author and filmmaker who fell in love with a wild lone sea wolf. For six years she observed and documented his life, producing an award-winning film, Takaya: Lone Wolf.
“I love buying prints that support communities, like these Baby Animal Prints by award winning American photographer and author Suzi Eszterhas. While pursuing her own career in conservation, Suzi recognised a need to encourage and support young women to pursue a career in the typically male-dominated profession of wildlife photography. Her non-profit organisation, Girls Who Click, links up aspiring young girls with professional female wildlife photographers who provide workshops and mentorship. By purchasing one of her prints, you will help to raise orphaned animals and protect wildlife habitat.
This year I will ► Support: inspiring organisations and I encourage you to get involved in whatever is close to your own passions and heart. Focus on: what I love most – nurturing my own family and others to respect and protect the natural world by using my photography to educate and inspire. Do less: working and procrastinating and more time loving and writing my next book.
12. Lola Akinmade Åkerström
Good Gift: Time
Nigerian-American and based in Sweden, Lola Akinmade Åkerström is the award-winning author of In Every Mirror She’s Black, a complex and compelling exploration of Black womanhood and the experiences of misogynoir.
“In our current mad dash world full of cutthroat competition, I consider ‘giving time’ a good gift. Whether it’s volunteering your time through local NGOs, religious organisations, or community-based initiatives, or spending time mentoring someone within your professional field through programs like We Make Change. That’s why I’m also an avid mentor of communities such as Black Women Photographers which lifts up marginalised photographers within their industries. I’ve been involved in mentorship programs such as the Gwen Ifill Mentorshop Program through the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF). Time is truly one of the last few valuable gifts we can give each other.
This year I will ► Support: writers and photographers who are still learning to use their creative voices. Focus on: creating stronger boundaries and protecting my energy. Do less: worrying and continue to move in faith.
13. Pauline Menczer
Good Gift: Company
1993 World Surfing Champion Pauline Menczer and a renegade bunch of surfer girls took on the male-dominated professional surfing world to change the sport forever – making it more inclusive both on and off the waves.
“Some things money can’t buy, I’m more into acts of service not so much material stuff. Giving the gift of your physical time and company: visit an elderly neighbour or someone you know who’s had a tough year… and offer them a hand in their garden to make it nicer to sit in and enjoy, spend an afternoon sharing some tea, food and a chat. So many people suffer from loneliness and Christmas is such a reminder for people who don’t have family, partners or who are maybe unwell.
This year I will ► Support: my local community and encourage others to do the same. It’s togetherness that makes a village or a town special. The Northern Rivers has faced so many challenges this year with floods, etc, but these events also reconnected the community in a very powerful way. Focus on: living in the moment, surfing whenever I can and go away on more spontaneous camping weekends. Do less: worrying about things I can’t change or don’t have control over.
14. Maus Haus AKA Claudia Osborn
Good Gift: Face This T-shirts
Bob Ross and rainforest-loving Australian artist Maus Haus is inspired by the outback as much as the ocean. You can see the Australian landscape reflected in the calm tones, lines and folds of her paintings.
“I love organisations that are set out to help others and that also provide cool opportunities for artists, so this year I purchased goodies from Face This for some friends and family. Face This is a fantastic organisation that facilitates the collaboration of artists and Indonesian school kids for designs that go on tees, tote bags and sweaters. All of the proceeds go towards the improvement of the kids’ schools. I was lucky enough to collaborate with them myself, and it was such a fun experience. I got designs from Liv Lee, Bernardo Hanning and Yeye Weller.
This year I will ► Support: slow/local businesses and other creatives. Focus on: my family. Do less: self doubt.
15. Matt Davies
Good Gift: Mossy Earth membership
Based in Portugal, Matt Davies is co-founder at Mossy Earth, a social enterprise on a mission to restore wilderness, protect biodiversity and help fight climate change through reforestation and rewilding projects.
“Gift a one-year Mossy Earth rewilding membership! With this gift, you will bring back wild native forests, rewild habitats to support biodiversity, support underfunded species and ecosystems. We spend 80% of the money we receive on impact with the rest being used for running costs. We provide you with detailed project reports, videos, maps and 360 degree photos. Our members can vote on project decisions every quarter.
This year I will ► Support: my pregnant partner. Focus on: being a first time dad. Do less: screen time.
16. John Elkington
Good Gift: Regeneration support
Known to many as the ‘Godfather of modern sustainability’, John Elkington has been a pioneer of the movement for well over 30 years. As Chairman and ‘Chief Pollinator’ of Volans he works with business leaders to effect change.
“Give the gift of support. At Volans, we support hard-edged campaigners like ClientEarth, who use legal challenges to shut or stall key elements of the degenerative economy, particularly coal-fired power stations. As a family, we support Sacha Dench’s extraordinary Conservation Without Borders, alongside the London and Dorset County Wildlife Trusts, local arms of a country-wide movement that supports local conservation via some 2,300 reserves – and encourages public enjoyment of nature, while restoring nearly 45,000 hectares of peatland. And we are patrons of the Science Museum, given the critical role of science in all of this.
This year I will ► Support: younger people, which these days is pretty much everybody. Focus on: the Regenerative Economy. Do less: promising to do less.
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Editor’s Picks: 7 more Good gifts
Unwrap these books, LPs and more
1. For the Birds: The Birdsong Project box set – Possibly the most beautiful box set ever made. A massive 20 LP set of birdy songs and spoken-word performances produced by Grammy winner Randall Poster and featuring Yoko Ono, Mark Ronson, Elvis Costello, Jeff Goldblum and more. Proceeds benefit The Audubon Society, a non-profit dedicated to bird conservation.
2. Knead Peace – a unique collection of beautiful bakes in support of Ukraine inspired by the resilient spirit of The Bakehouse, Kyiv, who have continued to bake day and night throughout the conflict.
3. Collage – This unique photo book showcases the recent work on the theme of sustainability of 64 outstanding female presenting photographers who have been shortlisted or nominated for the Prix Pictet and address urgent environmental and social problems.
4. Susan Bijl New Shopping Bag – Buy these hip shoppers made from 100% recycled nylon or polyester for households in financial need to brighten their Christmas.
5. Ottolenghi Test Kitchen Extra Good Things – If anything will swing you to a more plant-based diet, it’s this book. It’s a bit Extra.
6. Who’s the best James Bond? poster – Buying this quirky infographic print from Delayed Gratification‘s new book, An Answer for Everything, supports quality slow journalism. And answers who is the best Bond, obviously.
7. Spill the beans – One for hipster barista wannabes, curious foodies and cafe-hoppers, this coffee table book demonstrates the rich and diverse history beyond the ubiquitous flat white –exploring the effects of production to coffee-growing regions. Something to think about over your spiced latte.
What’s so good about this?
The new TOPIA mantra going into 2023 is “people, planet and pleasure”. For the gift that keeps on going, click the rabbit hole below – as many times as you like – to be inspired by a different story each time. You’re welcome!
Meet the writer
Lisa Goldapple is the brain behind the world of TOPIA, and might not behave as good as gold, but thinks good is golden. The Barcelona-based founder, creative director and editor-in-chief of TOPIA has been creating shows for MTV, BBC, Vice, TVNZ, National Geographic and more since the noughties. Then created social good platform, Atlas of the Future. To understand how TOPIA really came about, read Mind Blown, because: “If life splinters and you hallucinate triangles, make a kaleidoscope.”