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The Green Life: 'Tis Better: Holiday Gifts that Give Twice

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November 24, 2010

'Tis Better: Holiday Gifts that Give Twice

Studies show that our brains’ pleasure centers light up brighter when we give than when we receive. This holiday season, get your oxytocin fix by shopping these online destinations for altruistic eco-gifts.

For a global array of responsibly produced gifts, eBay's World of Good delivers. The site's "Goodprint" section showcases eco-positive pieces and tells the story behind each handcrafted offering. Choices include banana-fiber napkin rings from Kenya ($30) and a bamboo flute from Thailand ($23). There's also a selection of efficient electronics, including a 12-watt solar-energy kit ($400).

This stocking stuffer should sate the youngsters in your life — but will also improve the lives of less lucky children. The tube of recycled-newspaper coloring pencils (about $8) is available on UNICEF Canada's robust shopping site. The purchase supports UNICEF's efforts to protect and educate the world’s most vulnerable children.

How do you gift wrap random acts of kindness? By buying a themed deck of cards from Boom Boom! The green deck ($10) has 26 easy directives benefiting the environment, such as picking up the next piece of litter you see. Once you've completed a good deed, register the card's unique ID code online, then hand it off to a friend. As others pass it along, you can map the card's progress online.

We love Blurb. This for-the-people publishing outfit allows anyone with a dream of authoring a book to see it realized. You upload your text and design, then order copies ($5 to $187 each, depending on size). It's not just another vanity press, however: The site's philanthropic Blurb for Good section lets wordsmiths and photographers sell their art for a cause. Sales benefit a wide range of human- and animal-rights groups; one cookbook has collected more than $45,000 for Haiti. Love Pelicans ($39) raises money to rehabilitate the birds of the Gulf.

The idea of planting a tree in someone's name isn't new, but TreeNex makes it possible to track that tree's growth online. Its cheery holiday cards ($5.50 each) are 100% recycled, let recipients know that a fir or oak has been planted for them, and provide an online tracking code so they can see the sapling's planting date, its geographical coordinates, and photos of its nursery or forest.

For more do-good websites for holiday gift-giving, click through the break:

Care2 is a 12-year-old site — that's ancient in internet time! — that provides cause-related news, tips about how to live more sustainably, and an area where users can create and sign petitions. Its shopping section stocks a satisfying range of Earth-conscious home ware, fitness fashions and equipment, holistic health products, and solar-powered gadgets. On our wish list: the spinning composter ($200), which churns out 85 pounds of mulch per month and is made of recycled plastic.

Here are more ideas for online shopping that can help make the world a better place:

The Sierra Club's Sponsor a Wild Place program

A Kiva gift card

The fair-trade products from Asha Imports

The eco-conscious gifts from Ten Thousand Villages

Light Gives Heat is a site not to be missed.

Macy's wants you to Shop for a Better World.

What about giving an annual national-parks pass?

Or a gift that'll literally save lives, via the International Rescue Committee?

With TisBest's gift card, your recipient can choose the charity to which to donate.

Have we missed your favorite website for charitable gift-giving? Please leave a comment to let us know. 

--Avital Binshtock

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