The Herald Bulletin

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Community

December 15, 2012

Dreaming of a green Christmas?

ANDERSON, Ind. — Sara Rich doesn’t necessarily think of her gift-giving and decorating practices as “green.”

The Anderson preschool teacher said her creative homemade gifts and decorations are special.

“Mass production and store bought just isn’t the same,” Rich said sweetly. “And I love to give presents. It makes me happy.”

Over the years she has created a variety of green gifts and decorations as well as incorporating many other green practices into her holiday traditions. Rich tries to carry those practices into her every day life and into her classroom at the Morgan Center in Anderson.

“I guess I’ve not really thought about these things as being green, but it is just what I have done,” she said. “One year I took all the bows that I’d saved decorated my tree.”

Earthy-friendly gifts she’s made for students include melted leftover crayons reshaped into useable ones, stockings from scrap fabric, baked gingerbread people and other items.

Rich has created gifts for family and friends like purses and pot holder trivets made from sweaters purchased at a second-hand store, a tree skirt out of denim, food and drink mixes in jars, baby bibs from old T-shirts and snowmen and Santas out of recycled wood.

“I don’t want to make things that are going to end up being thrown away,” she said. “Instead, I make something that someone will love from something that would have been thrown away.”

Rich has helped students in her classroom make gifts for their parents. And this year she made her students play-dough as a gift.

Michele Hockwalt, one of the two women behind the Facebook page “Two Gals Green,” said although it is “absolutely the worst time of year for us to try to live a green life,” it is still important to try.

“Everything around us is shouting at us that we need to buy it to be happy or to make our loved ones happy,” the Anderson woman said.

On the green gals’ Facebook page — www.facebook.com/TwoGalsGreen — the women provided 10 tips for a greener holiday including using recycled or reusable materials to wrap or package gifts, shopping with a list and sticking to it and shopping at second hand or vintage stores. The page provides tips for a greener, healthier life year-round too.

Susan Eichhorn, education coordinator for the East Central Indiana Solid Waste District, said there are several things people can do to “green” their Christmas.

She suggested reusing gift bags, bows, boxes and using plastic bags to pad boxes for shipping or to keep children from shaking their gifts and discovering what is inside.

Eichhorn said families can even talk about doing a “homemade” Christmas with all gifts exchanged being made from items being rescued from the landfill. Another option, she said, is to buy locally whenever possible. Buying battery-free items (or using only rechargeable batteries) is another green idea.

“Around Christmas it is hard, but it is important to try do buy less in general,” Eichhorn said, pointing out that reducing use is one of the most important of the “reduce, reuse, recycle” trilogy.

“All three ‘Rs’ are easy,” she said. “It is just a matter of thinking about it in the moment.”

One statistic that Eichhorn found shocking was that as much as half of the 85 million tons of paper products Americans consume every year goes toward packaging, wrapping and decorating goods, according to Earth 911. And more trash is created in December than any other time of the year. Wrapping paper and shopping bags alone account for about 4 million tons of trash in the U.S. each year.

“It is a bummer we are trashing the earth while trying to be grateful for what we have,” she said. “

Find Abbey Doyle on Facebook and @heraldbulletin on Twitter, or call 640-4805.

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