Every traveller wants to take home something to remember their incredible adventure by.

Be it big (a large wooden giraffe) or small (a beaded trinket), purchasing souvenirs to take home, for yourself or as gifts, is part of the overall travelling experience. But how do you know what to purchase, and do so responsibly to support the local economy and local people and industries.

Local is Lekker

As a starting point, look for items that are manufactured locally.

The Love ZA Buy ZA campaign, for example, is a small collective of South African fashion and accessory designers and retailers, including Mungo and Jemima, Spilt Milk and Famke, combining their voices to promote supporting local industries.

This is great if you’re looking for a gift for a super stylish friend or family member with a flair for fashion and don’t mind spending slightly more than you would on the average been-there-done-that-souvenir t-shirt.

Maybe a beautiful hand-crafted piece of silver jewellery by Famke?

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 10.20.52 AM
Or perhaps a Spilt Milk dress?

Where to find these items

Cape Town – the Old Biscuit Mill (and their Neighbourgoods market on a Saturday), the V&A Waterfront’s newly-renovated Watershed market any day of the week, or Hout Bay’s Bay Harbour Market on a Friday evening or Saturday and Sunday during the day.

Johannesburg – Neighbourgoods Market on Saturday mornings into the afternoon in Juta Street, Braamfontein.

Durban – Wilson’s Wharf or The Stables markets.

Reduce, reuse, recycle
The bead and wire creations you can find on almost every street corner and at every market creates employment for many South African people who otherwise have no employment or income. These vendors also often reuse materials in creative ways to create all sorts of exciting trinkets.

Head to iThemba curios in Stellenbosch for some of the most special creations. You can even get them to make you a special customised badge/brooch.

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 10.23.16 AM
Or keep an eye open for these amazing paper bead necklaces and bracelets. You will find them at most local markets and curio shops. It’s pretty incredible how ordinary scraps of paper are transformed into colourful prettiness!


<centerScreen Shot 2015-01-12 at 10.23.24 AM

Gifts for a cause

If you want to purchase small gifts for a group of people back home, for the cost of a round of five or six drinks in a European or American city, you can buy a stack of Relate Bracelets from

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 10.23.38 AM
Or you can buy individual Relate bracelets for a variety of causes in stores including Sorbet salons, Clicks or Woolworths. Relate is a South African not-for-profit social enterprise that creates social investment opportunities to change lives, with 100% of the cost of the bracelet going to the people who make the bracelets, the cost of materials and the cause the bracelets represent.

If you’ve got a heart that beats for endangered wildlife, or know someone who does, Woolworths has an amazing array of products that benefit Wildlife Act, including cool shopping bags and these delicious jelly sweets.

Optimized-Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 10.23.47 AM

Fairtrade and organic treats

Wine and chocolate lovers rejoice! South Africa has some pretty cool Fairtrade products. In fact, South Africa is the largest producer of Fairtrade wines in the world.

But wait… what is fair trade? It is basically an ethical certification whose main aim is to promote more equality and sustainability in the farming sector.

You will be able to spot Fairtrade wines pretty easily if you look for the recognisable logo, but we suggest you try out one of Fairhills‘ varietals.

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 10.23.55 AM
And why not combine it with a slab of delectable, organic, hand-made Honest chocolate? What makes them even cooler is their flair for attractive packaging design. The artisanal chocolate company is based in Wale Street, Cape Town, but their products can be found right across the country.

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 10.24.02 AM
And if you’re going to be visiting Honest Chocolate, you might as well pop into neighbouring Bean There Coffee Company. As the first roaster of Certified Fairtrade coffee, strives to make a sustainable difference in the lives of African coffee producers by personally sourcing quality coffee through direct fair trade.


Finally, if you’re looking for something a bookish friend who’s into current affairs will like, buy a Big Issue magazine. Vendors can be found at busy intersection right across Cape Town and receive 50% of the cover price.

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 10.24.16 AM
If you really don’t know what or where to shop, you could consider asking your hotel concierge or guest house owner, what they suggest. For example, Protea Hotels supports the Reach for a Dream Foundation and encourages all staff to get involved in social upliftment – just ask how you can help in the community in which you are staying.

This article was originally published on Traveller24.


Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.