16 Charitable Gifts That Give Back

Love Your Melon / UncommonGoods / Amazon
Love Your Melon / UncommonGoods / Amazon

It's often said that it's more satisfying to give than receive. So why not double up on your efforts and give a gift that backs organizations supporting different movements around the world? We pulled together a list of different items that contribute to causes that benefit people, animals, and the environment. Presents like these will make the world a bit better—and we bet the recipients will love being involved in improving different lives.

1. Recycled Bomb Bangle; $40


This bracelet, crafted by artisans in Laos, is made from melted-down bombs dropped and planted by the United States during the Vietnam War. Laos is the most heavily bombed country in the world. ABC News estimates that the U.S. dropped about 270 million bombs on Laos between 1964 and 1973, 80 million of which, as of 2016, were still active. This bracelet contributes to removal efforts. For every purchase, ARTICLE22 donates money to clear three square meters of bomb-littered land.

Give back: ARTICLE22

2. Panda Salt and Pepper Shakers; $55

Image of two salt and pepper shakers shaped like pandas holding bamboo
World Wildlife Fund

These adorable ceramic salt and pepper shakers support the World Wildlife Fund's conservation efforts. Want a few other options? For a similar price, you could purchase a bamboo cutting board, a no plastics kit, or three pairs of socks.

Give back: World Wildlife Fund

3. Recycled Tire Wallet; $28

Image of a folded black wallet. The wallet is slightly open in this image, revealing an inner zipper and a pouch for cash
Friends International/Global Goods Partners

This sleek wallet supports families and children living in Cambodia. With every sale, Friends International, an organization that focuses on youth, is able to provide adults with a stable job and income so that their children don't need to be pulled out of school to support the family.

Give back: Global Goods Partners

4. Miniature Chess Set; $40

Image of a miniature chess set made out of onyx and marble
Sierra Family/UNICEF

This unique miniature chess set, handcrafted by the Sierra family in Mexico, contributes to UNICEF's goals of supporting and protecting children around the world. According to UNICEF's website, this $40 purchase can provide “22 packets of lifesaving nourishment to children suffering from acute malnutrition,” among other aid.

Give back: UNICEF

5. Pooping Pooches Calendar; $17

Image of the cover of a calendar, which features a black and white dog pooping in a field of lavender
Gag Gifts for Good Causes/Amazon

This calendar isn't just amusing—it also gives back to animals living in shelters. One dollar from every calendar sold goes to the Maui Humane Society, an “open-door” shelter in Puunene, Hawaii.

Give back: Amazon

6. Hand-Poured Candle; $22

Image of six white candles artistically arranged on a table. All of them are labeled with the word "happiness."
Prosperity Candle

Every Prosperity Candle is hand-poured by women refugees living in the United States. But that's only part of the story—the vessels for each candle were created by women artisans from all over the world, and a portion of every sale goes directly back to them. Candles come in scents like garden, lakeside, and more.

Give back: Prosperity Candle

7. Yoga Mat; $52

Image of a rolled-up red yoga mat with two gray stripes near the top.

Purchases of this yoga mat support (RED), a nonprofit that fights to end AIDS in Africa. An estimated 23.8 million people living in African countries are HIV-positive, according to DoSomething.org. (RED) partners with well-known brands like Apple, Moleskine, and Louis Vuitton to fund outreach efforts.

Give back: Amazon

8. Socks That Plant Trees; $15

Image of a pair of green socks with thin gray stripes. In the center, there is a green embroidered circle, about the size of a quarter, with a gray tree silhouette in the center.
Uncommon Goods

Every pair of socks purchased helps Trees for the Future plant 10 trees on farms in Uganda. Trees for the Future teaches Ugandan farmers how to sustain forest gardens, which benefit the environment while also giving families an additional source of income and food.

Give back: Uncommon Goods

9. Beanie; $30

Love Your Melon beanie
Love Your Melon / Amazon

Love Your Melon originally began with a goal to give away 45,000 hats—one for every child battling cancer in the United States. As the company has grown, its focus has shifted to funding programs for families of children with cancer. Every year, Love Your Melon donates 50 percent of its net profits to its nonprofit partners (including Be the Match, Alex's Lemonade Stand, and the Ronald McDonald House Charities).

Give back: Amazon

10. Skin Care Product Collection; $50

Image of a box of skin care products with the Kiehl's logo on the front. There is a red bow tied on to the upper left corner of the box.

One dollar from the sale of this four-piece skin care set goes to Feeding America, a nonprofit network of food banks that aims to reduce hunger in the United States.

Give back: Kiehl's

11. Custom Popcorn Tin; $29

Image of a large red popcorn tin with the logo for Popcorn for the People on the front
Popcorn for the People

Every tin of popcorn purchased at Popcorn for the People provides “meaningful employment” to adults with Autism and other disabilities who may otherwise have a difficult time finding jobs, the company's website says. For $29, you can purchase a one-gallon tin of up to three of the company's 12 different popcorn flavors (including buffalo, French toast, and dark chocolate espresso).

Give back: Popcorn for the People

12. 14-Ounce Coffee Blend; $14

Image of a brown paper bag full of ground dark roast coffee. The bag bears the label for Fire Dept. Coffee.
Fire Dept. Coffee

Fire Dept. Coffee is (rather unsurprisingly) run primarily by veterans and fire fighters, and 10 percent of every order supports ill and injured fire fighters and first responders. “You drink a lot of coffee, and it's essential at every fire station,” founder Luke Schneider told Fox Business. “Coffee is what brings people together, whether it be around the table at the fire department or around the table at home. We hope Fire Dept. Coffee can do that for everyone.”

Give back: Fire Dept. Coffee

13. Pinot Noir; $49

Image of a wine bottle covered in bronze glitter
One Hope Wine

This 2016 vintage Pinot Noir from California helps fund pet adoptions. So far, the company has helped more than 65,000 pets find new homes. Not into Pinot Noir? One Hope also sells sparkling wine, white wine, and rosé, all of which contribute to different causes. Sales from this bottle of rosé, for example, go to educating women about ovarian cancer, and this peach-flavored sparkling wine helps combat childhood hunger.

Give back: One Hope Wine

14. Lip Balm; $19

Image of clear lip balm in a black container
The Lipstick Lobby

One hundred percent of profits from this colorless lip balm go to the UnPrison Project, which strives to empower and educate women in prisons. Lipstick Lobby's other lipsticks contribute to other charities—proceeds from “Outrage,” a blue-red lip color, go to the American Civil Liberties Union; “Fired Up,” an orange-red, contributes to the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence; and “Kiss My Pink” supports Planned Parenthood.

Give back: The Lipstick Lobby

15. Cupanion Water Bottle; $15

Image of five clear hard plastic water bottles set up in a horizontal line.

Every Cupanion water bottle comes with a tag that connects to an app where users can track how often they refill their cups. Every time a user refills their bottle, Cupanion donates clean water to communities around the world.

Give back: Cupanion

16. Nancy Drew Tote Bag; $16

Image of a beige colored tote bag with dark blue details of a scene with trees and a house. In the foreground, in a lighter blue color, is a girl with a braid holding a magnifying glass.
Out of Print

Show off your love for literature while also supporting literacy within communities across the world. Since 2010, Out of Print has donated more than 3 million books to people in need, the company reports. Each purchase contributes to the organization's goals of promoting literacy and a love of reading.

Give back: Amazon

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

University of California and McMaster University Are Offering Their Learning How to Learn Course Online for Free

Deagreez/iStock via Getty Images Plus
Deagreez/iStock via Getty Images Plus

If you've ever stayed up late cramming information the night before an exam, it probably didn't go well. Or maybe you tried doing the right thing by spending days or even months studying a subject, only to realize you weren't retaining the information. These failed attempts may have you believe you're just not cut out for the subject matter, but that's not always true. In the course Learning How to Learn from Coursera, you can understand what it takes to truly understand new information, as well as the key strategies and habits you can employ to make it all stick.

Learning How to Learn is taught by Dr. Barbara Oakley, a Ramón y Cajal Distinguished Scholar of Global Digital Learning at McMaster University, along with Dr. Terrence Sejnowski, who holds the Francis Crick Chair at the Salk Institute and is a professor at the University of California, San Diego. Throughout the weeks, they’ll teach you how to combat procrastination, how our brains process information, and the importance of breaking up new material into bite-sized chunks. You’ll also cover how taking breaks, getting sleep, and exercising are just as important as studying when it comes to learning something new.

According to Coursera, to finish the class in the typical four-week time, most students devote about three hours a week to the online videos, readings, quizzes, and coursework. There’s also no need to cram—which you’ll learn is not an effective learning tool—as this course is self-paced.

The course itself is free, but if you want a certificate of completion to share on your LinkedIn and resume, it will cost $49. Signing up for the certificate also gives you access to graded assignments, whereas the free version only allows you to read the course material.

You can also check out more free classes offered by Ivy League colleges by heading here.

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

9 of Amazon’s Best Kitchen Knives


Whether you’re a seasoned chef or just starting to build up your home kitchen, a dependable knife set is absolutely essential. But there are a lot of choices out there when it comes to kitchen knives and chef knives. So, to make things easier for you, we looked at some of the top-selling knives on Amazon with the highest user ratings (at least 900 reviews each) and came up with a list of the best options available. You can check them out below.

1. 15-Piece Cuisinart Knife Set (4.6 Stars); $45

A Cuisinart knife set.

Cuisinart has been making quality kitchen products for decades, and this knife set offers 12 stainless-steel blades that are perfect for slicing and chopping the ingredients of any dish you happen to be cooking up. In this package, you'll also get sharpening steel, kitchen shears, and a holding block.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Home Hero Set of Seven (4.6 Stars); $27

A Home Hero knife set.
Home Hero/Amazon

Inside this versatile set, you'll find a chef knife, carving knife, bread knife, utility knife, and a paring knife. Along with the five stainless-steel blades, there's also a finger guard and sharpener, so you can keep your utensils ready to go at all times.

Buy it: Amazon

3. McCook 14-Piece Set (4.7 Stars); $53

McCook Knife set.

Made with high-carbon stainless steel, this knife set is built to last. The knives have an easy-to-grip handle that’s comfortable to hold, while the blades are built to cut through just about anything. And when they do get dull, there’s a sharpener built into the wooden stand.

Buy it: Amazon

4. AmazonBasics Eight-Piece Steak Knife Set (4.4 Stars); $22

A set of steak knives from Amazon.

This set of simple yet dependable knives is what you'll want to have on hand to get you through barbecue season. Each one is made from a single piece of stain-resistant steel, and according to Amazon, you won’t need to worry about sharpening the micro-serrated part of the blade.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Set of Four Dalstrong Knives (4.7 Stars); $90

A set of steak knives.

After you cook your perfect steak, make sure you have the proper tools to enjoy it with. Dalstrong’s knives are made from high-carbon German steel and will stay sharp long after their first use.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Mercer Culinary Genesis Steak Knife, Serrated Edge (4.8 Stars); $14

A knife from Mercer Culinary.
Mercer Culinary/Amazon

Mercer Culinary makes knives for professional chefs and home cooks alike. Its santoprene handle allows for a comfortable grip, while its carbon-forged steel blade is rust-resistant.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Wüsthof Eight-Inch Chef’s Knife (4.8 Stars); $165

A knife from Wüsthof.

Wüsthof has been making knives for over 200 years, and this sturdy chef's knife can be put through the wringer without worrying about quick wear and tear.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Utopia Kitchen 8-Inch Chef Knife (4.4 Stars); $9

A chef's knife from Utopia Kitchen.
Utopia Kitchen/Amazon

This rust-resistant stainless-steel knife is one you’ll want to have on hand. It's built to cut through large food items but you can also use it to mince or finely chop smaller ones. And with such a low price point, it's great to pick up if you're just looking to practice the basics before moving on to something more advanced.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Victorinox 10-Inch Swiss Classic Chef’s Knife (4.8 Stars); $40

A Victorinox knife.

Victorinox has been around for over 130 years, and their versatile chef’s knife lets you put your slicing and dicing skills to the test. It has a tapered edge which allows you to get the perfect angle, while its razor-sharp blade can cut through pretty much anything a recipe might throw your way.

Buy it: Amazon

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.