Gifts That Give Back: The Great Outdoors and Pets

Gift Guide

This holiday season consider giving gifts that make a difference. Photo: Halfpoint/Getty Images

From stylish, high-performing rain boots and the warmest pullovers to a solar-powered wristwatch and an adorable plush toy for your furry friends, these gifts have one thing in common — they keep on giving.


Hug Mother Earth


The Brand: Hunter 

These are the kinds of boots on the ground we can get behind. Since 2011, the British heritage brand known for its function-meets-fashion rain boots has been softening its eco footprint. Its latest initiative, Hunter Protect, launched this year with a sustainability focus “on the environment and the people around it,” says CEO Paolo Porta. 


Holiday Gift Guide
Photo: Courtesy of Hunter


The Gift: Hunter Original Forests Boot, short, $175

Why: Between 2022 and 2025, the company is committed to offsetting carbon emissions, using Forest Stewardship Council-certified rubber, and recycled packaging. It will also donate 15,000 pairs of boots to global charities, including first responders helping with natural disasters, pandemics and the refugee crisis.



The Brand: MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-op)

For its 50th anniversary, this iconic Canadian outfitter is stepping up its philanthropic initiatives. Its priorities are diversity, equity and inclusion, responsible outdoor recreation; and building outdoor skills. “By 2025, our aim is to have at least one environmental or social responsibility feature in every MEC Label product,” chief product officer Adam Ketcheson has pledged. 


Holiday Gift Guide
Photo: Courtesy of MEC


The Gift: The MEC Label Unisex Anniversary Polarplus Pullover, a throwback from the 1990 catalogue: $99.95.

Why: MEC is donating $1 million to Canadian non-profits. Over the next year, through its Outdoor Impact program, it will fund and outfit national organizations like the Indigenous-focused Spirit North and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.


Best Friends Forever


The Brand: PetSmart

This retailer created PetSmart Charities of Canada in 1994. Since then, the company has donated more than $400 million to support pet adoption, pet therapy, humane societies and spay and neuter clinics across North America. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, PetSmart announced a $10 million donation to help families in need to feed their pets in 2021. 


Holiday Gift Guide
Photo: Courtesy of PetSmart


The Gift: Chance plush toy, $6, with $1 from each toy donated to PetSmart Charities of Canada.

Why: Don’t need another plushie? Donating directly to PetSmart Charities ensures 90 cents of every dollar goes directly to those in need.


Good Timing


The Brand: Solios Watches

Co-founders Samuel Leroux and Alexandre Desabrais built this Montreal-based company on sustainable energy. The watches are solar-powered, eliminating hazardous batteries. Straps are made from environmentally friendly cork, durable hemp, vegan leather or magnetic mesh, which reduces manufacturing materials by eliminating buckles. For every watch sold, an acre of rainforest is saved in a partnership with the Rainforest Trust.


Holiday Gift Guide
Photo: Courtesy of Solios


The Gift: Solios Make-a-Wish limited edition watch, handmade in Montreal, $350.

Why: Leroux and Desabrais are long-time volunteers for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, so $50 from the sale of these 500 blue-dialled beauties will help fulfill the dreams of critically ill children.



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