Not into Christmas consumerism? We’ve got you covered. Instead of hitting the shops this year, why not back a great project on behalf of a loved one? Ranging from sustainable fashion to life-saving organisations, here are our 10 picks…

Plug&Play RNA – Imagine being able to diagnose cancer without needing a lab – you could save millions of lives! A Spanish startup, Moirai Biodesign, is working to make this a reality. Their design the Plug&Play RNA is an ultrafast, low cost diagnostic kit for Acute Myeloid Leukemia. It works similarly to a pregnancy test requiring only a tiny blood sample. And, once the team have tackled this challenge, they plan to address as many cancers as possible.

Memphis Meats – Are you a guilty meat eater? Here’s a chance to make amends! Memphis Meats is all about growing meat from animal cells – no breed, feed or slaughter required. By backing the project you can help lay the foundation for mainstream adoption of lab-grown meat. And as they put it: ‘”If there’s one campaign you should be a part of to help the planet and its inhabitants, it’s this one.”

Foldscope – Using origami to democratise science education and help tackle disease, the $1.00 Foldscope allows users to see the tiny – good, interesting and ominous – life-forms the naked eye can’t. Made from a single sheet of paper, the Foldscope can be easily, cheaply and sustainably mass produced and distributed. It’s a great gift for anyone interested in science, including kids, and by supporting the project, you’ll help the makers deliver one million units globally.

LIVIN Farms Hive – If you, or your giftee, aren’t squeamish and are open to a more sustainable source of protein, this one’s for you. Remember INDEX: Award 2013 finalist Lepsis? This design functions almost exactly the same way – it’s an insect incubator that grows protein-rich meal worms. You can grow upto 500g per week and all they need are your food scraps!

Electroloom – Start 2017 in high-tech style and be one of the first alpha testers for the Electroloom 3D fabric printer. You, or your loved one, can join the fast-growing maker movement by designing and manufacturing your own clothes from scratch. By backing the printer, you can purchase 3D printed fabrics, shirts and skirts, or if you’re feeling really generous, your own Electroloom Alpha.

Restart Network: Help Educate Refugees – Coding is fast becoming one of the most essential skills for today’s job market – so why not give refugees a leg-up that will be truly useful? A Rotterdam based network needs your help to fund their 2017 program, which will help local refugees start fulfilling careers in their new Dutch neighbourhoods.

FEND – The FEND helmet is the more stylish and durable option of the famous collapsible paper helmet. It’s designed to provide high quality protection, exceeding US CPSC and European EN 1078 safety standards, and can be compressed down to a third of its size. But, if you’re still not keen on ruining your hair, the INDEX: Award 2011 winner Hövding is also a fantastic option.

Xpress Democracy – It’s not easy to come up with an app to improve democracy, but this one might just crack the puzzle that hundreds have worked on. In essence, the Swedish app allows users to anonymously put forward an idea, others can back it, and if it receives enough votes, the idea will be formulated into a legally binding petition and presented to local representatives. Support this app and it could eventually become the norm in your city.

Choose a cause to back yourself via Kiva.org. INDEX: Award 2009 winner Kiva.org has been changing lives all over the world via their micro-loan system. By loaning, say $25, you can help someone go to school, start a business or even help a family install essential sanitation facilities. It’s a small price to invest to give someone a transformative opportunity.

Last, but certainly not least, you can support the victims in Aleppo. Watching the news these days can be simply heartbreaking. But, instead of expressing your anguish via social media, act to make a real difference. Here’s a great short list of some initiatives that will greatly benefit from your backing.


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