Gifts with a conscience

Gift giving is an art form -- a powerful means of communicating who you are and how you feel about that person as well as yourself. What is a conscious gift and where would I find one? Well, it will depend somewhat upon the person giving the gift and whom you are giving it to. The first things to be considered should be materials, manufacturers, retailers and ethics, values and quality and the most vital element -- the recipient's pleasure. The next question, is it possible to accomplish all these objectives without losing the joy of giving and the celebration of the day?

Wouldn't it be wonderful if all the gifts we gave did no harm to the earth or the environment? I don't think that's entirely possible without going back to living in a cave but we can make better choices. Familiarize yourself with local merchants in an effort to support your community. Choose to patronize stores that reflect your values and the merchandise they stock will reflect your values as well.

Some things to be aware of when you begin your gift shopping would be reading labels for content, purity, quality, manmade fiber versus natural, and where the item was manufactured. Does the manufacturer of the item give part of the profits to charity? Great, you just gave twice!

Most wise store owners know their merchandise. Ask questions of them to gain further information. Talk with friends and acquaintances that share your concerns. If these same people are on your list you're that much closer to a match of the perfect gift.

Here are some ideas:

Prepare a basket lined with natural hemp or a 100 percent cotton dish towel, then fill it with whatever you like. Natural foods, maple syrup, oils, nut butters and crackers. Or how about some natural soaps, bath salts, loofa sponges and moisturizers, or natural breads, cookies, nuts and snack mixes. Fill your cook's basket with some organic flours, sweeteners, beans and legumes. For the coffee drinker, some natural coffees, a mug and some natural coffee filters.

How about supporting the Galesburg Civic Art Center and artists by giving a piece of artwork produced locally. Art centers have large displays of any number of various art works from pottery to pictures, woven items that would be enjoyed by male, female young or old.

What about giving a piece of estate jewelry? Antique shops everywhere handle second hand pieces from very inexpensive to very expensive. The quality of some of the pieces cannot be matched. It's a perfect marriage between the individual who loves jewelry and the gift giver conscious of the idea of restore and reuse.

What about a first edition book that's out of print? You may not find one inexpensively, but for the individual who has a favorite author there's nothing like owning a first edition.

I hope these ideas are useful and spark some interest in unique and one-of-a-kind gifts. Remember your own conscience and peace of mind too. Don't drive yourself wild with last minute shopping. It won't make your list any shorter -- but your attitude won't need as much adjusting either!

Till next time, Rebecca.

Uploaded to The Zephyr Online November 20, 2001

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