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Go Green with Your Holiday Gift Giving

(ARA) ­ Even in the grip of holiday shopping fever, Americans are concerned about the environment. "Green gifts" ­ products that appeal to consumers' environmental consciousness ­ are everywhere this holiday season, and have made their way into retail locations across the country.

"According to a 2006 poll by Global Market Institute, 90 percent of Americans are concerned about the future of the environment," says Jenny Belknap, Vice President of Global Marketing for Origins, a company that has always embraced the connection between Mother Nature and human nature. "Consumers are not setting that concern aside for the holiday shopping season. Rather, we¹re seeing increasing demand for environmentally friendly gift products."

In fact, in 2005, natural and organic products made up more than 10 percent of all retail sales of personal care products in the United States, according to the Natural Marketing Institute. The organization anticipates that figure will more than double by 2009. Increased celebrity attention and broad public interest are contributing to the trend.

So what¹s hot in green gifts this year? Here are some eco-friendly gift ideas to appeal to everyone on your list, whether their interest in the environment is passionate or passing:

* If the green-lovers on your list are losing sleep over their responsibility for eco-friendly living, you can help them rest easy with organic bed linens. Retail giants like Target and Bed, Bath and Beyond have bowed to the organic movement and now offer organic cotton sheets and even sets made from bamboo. They are available in deep-pocket versions to fit today¹s thicker mattresses. For more information on organic bed linens and other eco-friendly gifts, visit www.treehugger.com.

* Looking to incorporate an organic beauty regimen in your eco-lifestyle? Available worldwide at Origins retail stores, department stores and online, Origins offers a variety of natural and organic products for women and men. These include gift sets and products from the new Origins Organics collection, a complete line of organic skin, body and hair products certified according to USDA National Organic Program standards. They also offer free recyclable gift wrapping to minimize stress during the busy holiday season. For more information, check out www.origins.com.

* Hoping to introduce someone to the joys of environmentally responsible living? Check out www.gogreengift.com, where you will find a kit for the eco-neophyte on your list. The Eco-Starter Kit includes such basic eco-friendly items as a low-flow shower head, compact fluorescent light bulbs, a GoGreen EcoGuide, and organic fruit leather, coffee and tea. Or, pick up a copy of ³The Green Book: The Everyday Guide to Saving the Planet One Simple Step at a Time,² available at bookstores everywhere.

* Candles are a timeless, classic gift year-round and are even more appropriate during the holidays, when twinkling lights and robust aromas underscore the spirit of the season. If you¹re concerned about giving the candle-lover in your life a candle with artificial scents and a questionable origin, try an Akeewakee Personal Candle, available at Origins retail stores.

First made in 2003 in New Orleans¹ French Quarter, the candles are crafted from natural soy and beeswax with a wick of all-natural plant fibers designed to reduce soot and carbon.

* Finally, if you¹re looking to go grand with your eco-friendly gift, consider giving the tree-hugger on your list an eco-friendly vacation. Tourism companies now offer tour packages to areas of environmental interest. Some travelers opt to soak in the natural beauty of the locale, while others become actively involved in local projects designed to help the environment.

Or send your loved one to a location closer to home for a stay in an eco-friendly hotel. Many hotel chains and independent facilities have instituted a range of environmentally responsible practices, from using eco-friendly laundry products to banning smoking throughout the property.

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