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Originally published Saturday, December 11, 2010 at 7:06 PM

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Little gifts can make a big hit

Consider stocking stuffers and small gifts as options during another tough economic year. Try replacing the usual trinkets with eco-friendly gifts that are reasonably priced and not burdensome to people and the environment.

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AS THE CRISP weather and our favorite stores remind us of the approaching holidays, consider stocking stuffers and small gifts as options during another tough economic year. Try replacing the usual trinkets with eco-friendly gifts that are reasonably priced and not burdensome to people and the environment. Minimize your footprint by shopping at local craft fairs and markets, or check out these options available online:

Filter your cuppa with hemp. Got a daily java addict on your gift list? Cusp Natural Products in Chehalis makes these reusable cone- and basket-style coffee filters, which can be rinsed and used again and again. Filters are available in different sizes and range from $4 to $6. If your favorite addict has sworn off coffee, the company also makes hemp tea bags. These cost between $3 and $6 and are available at www.cuspnaturalproducts.com.

Give a kid a furry friend. Children are bound to love MooBelle, the Eco Cow, or any of her other cuddly companions. The whimsical animal, made from bamboo fleece and organic cotton corduroy, is stuffed with pesticide-free fiber and colored by hand using dyes and prints. Ground walnut shells add weight in the legs. MooBelle and her pals are available at www.eco-artware.com for $20 to $30.

Stay snug in silk. A silk, hand-woven scarf from Gaiam of Boulder, Colo., will be much appreciated during the chilly, damp winter days. The lilac-colored scarves are woven by women in Vietnam's rural Ha Dong District. Scarves offered in various colors and patterns and made by other fair-trade artisans in Vietnam also are available. They go for $24 at www.gaiam.com/home.do.

Dog it, in a good way. Don't forget pets — or their devoted owners — when scouting stocking stuffers. Krebs Recycle in Mercer Island crafts dog leashes made from used nylon climbing rope. The company "up-cycles," meaning the rope is used in its original form without any intensive processes to transform it into something else. Krebs Recycle gets rope from climbing-guide services and gyms and from rope manufacturers. Leashes range in size, color and price, costing between $14 and $16 at www.krebsrecycle.com.

From antique glass, snowflakes fall. Tree or window decorations fit perfectly into a stocking, so why not give an eco-friendly ornament? Bottled Up Designs makes snowflake ornaments from antique glass dairy bottles. Artist Laura Bergman collects broken bottles in Pennsylvania's rural woods and farmlands, then crushes and fires the pieces into snowflake replicas. The handmade ornaments go for $24 and are available at www.bottledupdesigns.com.

Just say thank you. A gift of thank-you cards during the holiday season is a sure bet, but go a step further by giving a set of Botanical Paperworks' plantable cards that sprout wildflowers when placed in the ground. The cards, made from 100 percent post-consumer waste, can be planted directly in a pot or garden. Packs of eight sell for $24.95 through Tread Light Gifts in Seattle. More information at www.treadlightgifts.com.

If your friends and family grumble about getting more stuff, consider giving to someone less fortunate in the name of your loved one. Here are a couple of places to look:

Buy bees or a share of a cow. Families in developing countries can be helped by someone on your list. World Vision, a Christian humanitarian-aid organization, lets you browse through a catalog of gifts and services. The least expensive range from a $10 child-education fund to upward of $500 for a dairy cow, small-business loan or bed nets for a village. More information at www.worldvision.org.

Heifer International also offers a selection of animal gifts and training opportunities for families around the world. Give the gift of honeybees, a tree, a flock of geese or a trio of rabbits. You can create a card for your loved ones explaining how their gifts will help. See www.heifer.org for more information.

Michelle Ma is a Seattle Times online news producer.

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