9 super offbeat charity gifts that do the world good

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This holiday season, put that Snuggie budget to better use and help a charity do something productive in the world: Wrap up dung for crops, a tree for a butterfly, the wellbeing of an octopus, a camel for milk, and more. These offbeat charity gifts contribute to environmental and social causes around the world.

Plus, your giftee will appreciate not having to make room for a new gewgaw, the recipients of the charity will appreciate the help, and the landfill will appreciate the dearth of packing, shipping and wrapping materials.

The first on our list may not be the most glamorous, but it’s certainly unique!

1. Give Dung

For the person who has everything or as a loving gag gift for your favorite green giftee – or the relative with whom you’ve been arguing politics – give the gift of dung!

We sh#t you not, Oxfam America is giving gifts of organic manure to increase crop yields in a way that is cheaper, greener, and safer than chemical fertilizers. (Oxfam Manure, $12)

The rest: Manure for crops | Trees for butterflies | Adopt an octopus | Lord or Lady title for land preservation | A milking camel | National Parks pass | Bikes not bombs | Adopt a book | Help a bison

credit: Flickr/Steven2005

The Forests For Monarchs project has added more than five million trees since 1997 to previously deforested areas of Central Mexico, giving majestic monarch butterflies a fighting, fluttering chance. A gift of trees in the name of the butterfly lover in your life will help promote survival of the beleaguered species. (Trees for Butterflies, 50 trees for $25)

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credit: wikimedia

Some of us would prefer an adopted octopus over a sparkling bauble in a heartbeat.

If you’ve got one of us on your list, ‘adopt’ an octopus in the giftee’s name and Oceana will put the money towards protecting marine animals from danger by stopping cruise ship pollution and advocating for clean, safe energy solutions. (Oceana Octopus, $30-$70)

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In Become a Scottish Lord or Lady for $49.99 we told you all about how to officially become a Lord or Lady for under 50 clams.

Why would this make such a great gift? Because along with the title of landed gentry comes a wee (like, one square foot, but still) parcel of Scottish land that will be protected from development. (Lord or Ladyship, $42)

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Nothing says Merry Christmas like the gift of … a camel! It’s so Nativity-scene!

But really, while most of us can pop over to the market for a few gallons of milks, for people in parts of the world too dry for livestock Heifer International provides camels that can be used for transportation, as well as for milk that families can drink or sell. (Heifer Camel, $85-$850)

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Give Yosemite, Yellowstone, and the Yukon! While maybe not technically a charity gift, by supporting the National Parks Service with the purchase of a National Parks Pass, you help to preserve our public lands.

A pass allows one year of free access to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites. (National Parks Pass, $80)

The rest: Manure for crops | Trees for butterflies | Adopt an octopus | Lord or Lady title for land preservation | A milking camel | National Parks pass | Bikes not bombs | Adopt a book | Help a bison

The wonderful non-profit, Bikes not Bombs, collects nearly 6,000 used bicycles and tons of used parts throughout the year, and refurbishes and ships most of them overseas to economic development projects through their International Programs in Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean.

A donation in your recipient’s name will come with a gift card and the knowledge that they are promoting power through the pedals. (Bikes Not Bombs, any amount)

The rest: Manure for crops | Trees for butterflies | Adopt an octopus | Lord or Lady title for land preservation | A milking camel | National Parks pass | Bikes not bombs | Adopt a book | Help a bison

For the bookworm in your life, the Smithsonian Libraries’ Adopt-a-Book Program provides the funds for the conservation, acquisition, and digitization of books and manuscripts held by the world’s most book-lovingest museum and research institution. There is a wonderful selection of specific books looking for their patron! (http://www.adoptaword.com/search-results.php?sessid=2052802581">Various titles, prices vary)

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The Nature Conservancy works throughout the Great Plains and in Mexico to restore prairie lands through bison reintroduction, as well as other grassland restoration tasks like invasive species control, native grass restoration, prescribed fire and grassbanking. The bison need room to roam!

Give your prairie girl or guy the gift of bison ecosystem conservation. (Bison Byway, $150)

The rest: Manure for crops | Trees for butterflies | Adopt an octopus | Lord or Lady title for land preservation | A milking camel | National Parks pass | Bikes not bombs | Adopt a book | Help a bison

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