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Valentine's Day Gifts Come with Scruples

by Bruce Horovitz
USA Today

There was a time when it was politically correct to hand your loved one a valentine, a box of chocolates, a bouquet of flowers and, perhaps, a bottle of perfume on Valentine's Day.

That time may be gone.

To be PC this year, the valentine needs to be paperless, the chocolates should be organic, the flowers must be Fair Trade-certified and the perfume - better check if it was made without animal experiments.

A politically correct Valentine's Day is kinder to the planet, poor folks in foreign lands and furry friends. "You shouldn't be hurting anyone or anything on Valentine's Day, the day of love," says trends guru Faith Popcorn. "The country is rediscovering a social conscience of ethics, passion and compassion."

Sales of organics jump at Valentine's Day, says Holly Givens, Organic Trade Association spokeswoman. "We're trying to figure out how to pack 15,000 organic flower boxes in eight hours," says Gerald Prolman, CEO of Organic Style.

Retailers are on board:

Fair Trade flowers. 1-800-Flowers is offering Fair Trade-certified flowers that guarantee fair wages in developing countries. They let customers "make a difference," says CEO Jim McCann.

Three dozen sweetheart roses fetch $36.99. A similar bouquet that isn't Fair Trade-certified is $29.99. "It has a powerful impact for someone you don't even know," says Paul Rice, CEO of certifier TransFair USA.

Organic chocolates. Organic chocolates are "selling like wildfire" at Sweet Earth Organic Chocolates (sweetearthchocolates.com), says President Tom Neuhaus. A 5-oz. box goes for $16.

Cruelty-free perfume. At The Body Shop, where no products are tested on animals, Valentine's Day is the top holiday for male buyers, says spokeswoman Shelley Simmons. New: a Japanese Cherry Blossom body butter, bath gel and eau de toilette pack for $66.

It's OK'd by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. "We'd like consumers to have a heart for animals this Valentine's Day," says Ann Marie Dori of PETA.

Selfless gifts. Also popular are gift certificates from Kiva (kiva.org), which lets consumers lend small sums to workers in developing countries. Elaine DiRico, a retired chef from Austin, bought a $50 card for her husband: "It's a way to create a caring community."

Paperless love. To save trees, a record number of valentines will go out from sites like Americangreetings.com and E-Cards.com.



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