The Gift (Card) that Keeps on Giving: Recycle This!

Now that unwanted gift card can turn into giving trees through the site Gift Cards for Trees. Here’s how it works: You get an unwanted gift card, say it’s for Outback Steakhouse and you just gave up red meat. But instead of letting it expire, as so many gift cards do, you mail in your $25 gift card to Gift Cards for Trees, then they’ll plant trees through the organization American Forests! The amount planted varies by the amount of each donation, for example cards with balances of $21-40 will plant 7-14 trees. As a bonus, depending on the value of the cards, donors get different amounts of Earth-friendly treats in return, like organic snacks, lapel message buttons made from recycled materials, and more. Cards with balances less than $21 are still accepted but are added together to make balances high enough to buy trees.

So how does Gift Cards for Trees get money for the gift cards? Basically, they resell them for market value to people who do want them. Giving away a gift card or two or three may not immediately make sense to budget-conscious ecoists–why would you give up the opportunity for free merchandise? But as the “how-to” video explains at the end, as it shows the star popping her gift card in the mail, “You’ve just made a donation without spending a single cent.” Hey! Now they’re playing your song. That’s helpful and thrifty!

The site also links to other ways to help the planet, including the Giving Tree Gift Card that enables the recipient to donate 10% to the charity of their choice, and iGive, which donates a portion of your online shopping total at stores like eBay, Barnes & Noble, and Nordstrom, to the charity of your choice. It’s more ways to turn receiving into giving.

Go to our forum and let us know if you’ve used any of these services! We’d love to hear your thoughts.