From: Tex Dworkin, Global Exchange
Published December 3, 2004 12:00 AM

Creative Gift-Giving Ideas that are Easy on the Planet AND Your Wallet

Are you sick of the same old dilemma? You feel obligated to buy gifts you can't afford for people who won't like them only to imagine them ending up in some landfill anyway? Or after you meticulously unwrap each of your gifts to save the paper for 'next time' your Aunt Edith throws it out anyway?


Gift giving can be a joyful experience that's easy on people and the planet. Follow these helpful hints and you're on your way to a greener, more fulfilling gift-giving season.


1) Say Goodbye to Wrapping Paper!
There are plenty of alternatives to wasteful wrapping paper. If you've got a little extra time and a magazine ready to be recycled, cut out images of some of your gift recipient's favorite things; a favorite flower, hero, or saying. Glue the images to a full sheet of newspaper and voila, you've got wrapping paper. This makes for a much more thoughtful gift presentation, and one that can be recycled!


Some gifts can be wrapped inside of others. A brightly colored dishtowel is a great way to wrap mugs and other smaller items. A beautiful hand-carved box is a terrific way to present fine jewelry. Tie some colorful natural raffia ribbon around the gift and you're ready to present.


2) Choose the 'Right' Products
Support workers' rights AND the environment by choosing Fair Trade and Sweatshop-free products. In the U.S. Fair Trade products can be identified by Transfair's "Fair Trade Certified" label or the Fair Trade Federation logo. TransFair USA places their label on coffee, cocoa, tea, bananas and other fruits. The Fair Trade Federation logo on a product means that a company supports the highest level of commitment to fair trade. So look for the labels when shopping!


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3) Make a Pact with Friends and Family
If you don't want to break the bank this holiday season, encourage friends and family in your gift circle to decide on a maximum spending amount. If everyone agrees to spend no more than $20 you'll be surprised at how thoughtful and creative people become with their gift giving!


4) Cupid Loves Fair Trade Chocolate!
What's not to love? Fair Trade chocolate is not only delicious, but cocoa farmers receive a living wage and aren't forced to work in unsafe conditions. Consider wrapping a small handful of Fair Trade Chocolate Chips (Dagoba Chocodrops work great!) in a small piece of fabric secured with natural raffia, and include this yummy bundle with a handmade card. A delicious duo for loved ones.


5) Add the Personal Touch
Enhance gifts by adding your personal touch. Add a baby picture of yourself to a picture frame for Grandpa. Present your neighbor with a handcrafted ceramic bowl that you've filled with homemade chocolate treats. Your Mom's favorite flower will transform a recycled glass vase from ordinary gift into extraordinary! These and other low cost ideas will really make your gifts stand out.


On behalf of all of us at Global Exchange, Have a Happy Green Year!


Source: Global Exchange Online Store


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