Giving is the best gift

Giving is the best gift

We've all received a Christmas gift we didn't really want, but rather than faking a smile and throwing it in a drawer, you can now pass it on to someone who might actually want it.

The big red recycling box - situated next to the customer service counter in East Point City - is part of Carbon Care Asia, Sun Hung Kai Properties and The Salvation Army's efforts to make better use of the presents people really didn't ask for.

The gift recycling campaign has been running for seven years, and in 2013 alone, The Salvation Army has already given 20,000 items from previous years to more than 5,500 people from impoverished families across Hong Kong.

Gifts that the organisations look for include cash vouchers, winter clothing, small electronic appliances for the home, toys and books. The campaign only accepts items that are either new or almost new.

Over the past six years, it has saved an amount of carbon dioxide equivalent to that usually absorbed by more than 6,000 medium-sized trees, says Chong Chan-yau, chairman of Carbon Care Asia. "We encourage people to buy gifts with lighter packaging," Chong said. "People can also check out the carbon footprint value printed on the products before purchasing, although not many products in Hong Kong have these figures yet."

Chong said people should always buy reusable gifts which will last for a long time. Checking that the manufacturing process did not harm the health of workers is also important.

"People in Hong Kong are becoming increasingly aware of fair trade and organic products, but there is still room to improve," he said.

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