It is nearly 20 years (!) since I started covering the gift industry, and during that time it’s pretty safe to say I’ve seen several product categories come and go with much sound and fury. Anyone remember collectibles, that resin-populated, signed-and-numbered category of giftware that was SO hot in the late 90s — and can now be found gathering dust on forgotten shelves, or more likely festering in landfills?

To that end, in the pages I create for Gift Shop magazine, I’ve made a conscious decision to try and focus on those products that have not only look great and have an element of utility to them, but also help the planet in some way. So a few weeks back, when Uncommon Goods reached out asking if I was interested in profiling a few picks from their site, I responded with a resounding yes! I was already familiar with the site — we actually got my mom this lovely Butterfly Puddler several months back, and it was one of those gifts I found hard to part with.

Here are a few more favorites I found. I am a big tap water drinker, so the Flavor Infusing Carafe puts a fresh twist on that (or even cocktails). Just squeeze fruit directly in through the citrus reamer and built-in strainer attachment — or add any fruit, vegetable, and herb medley and use the adjustable muddling wand to release the flavors. Made of borosilicate glass, neoprene, silicone and stainless steel, it even comes with recipes. $39.99.

ueme_6I have admired Jeff Davis’ work for years at gift shows, and his Record Clock is no exception. No matter the time, you’ll always be rocking with this offbeat conversation starter. Choose from rock, soul, jazz or ’80s records. $38.

useme_1Whatever kind of space of you reside in, the GrowBottle allows you to go off the grid for Organic Basil, Organic Chive, Heirloom Mint, Organic Oregano or Organic Parsley. A repurposed restaurant wine bottle come ready to thrive with soilless growing mix, wool wick, plant nutrient, cork coaster and seeds. Made in Idaho, each is $36, with replants for $8.

useme_2Even if you are completely addicted to your 21st century technology — the not-so-humble iPhone — this Driftwood Charging Dock brings a timeless, organic element into the charging process. These are handcrafted from natural driftwood that washed up on the stony Maine shores. $68.

useme_3How beautiful is this? Each Upcycled Cotton Sari Duffle Bag is truly one-of-a-kind and handmade in India by a Fair Trade Cooperative. $49.

useme_4Handmade in Manchester, New Hampshire, these Upcycled Banded Cup Sets are testaments to the hidden beauty found in the recycling bin, or even the dumpster. Wine bottles are cut to size, heated in a kiln, and then different colored sections are fused. Due to these origins, each is unique. $140/set of 2.

useme_5Finally, you too can own a bit of the Motor City with this handmade Grafitti Brass Pendant. To make it, fallen graffiti scraps are sealed in glossy resin and suspended from a sterling silver chain. A tag identifies where the graffiti was found. $60.useme_6You can click through to learn more about these products and the brilliant makers behind them. And, not only do these goods promote wise consumption, through Uncommon Goods‘ Better to Give Program, $1 from any purchase is donated to one of its four not-for-profit partners: RAINN,the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization; American Forests, the oldest national nonprofit conservation organization in the country, advocates for the protection and expansion of forests; International Rescue Committee, which helps people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster; and Reach Out & Read, which gives young children a foundation for success by incorporating books into pediatric care. These are smart spends!

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