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Tis the season

Anna Gorman | Thursday, December 1, 2011

‘Tis my favorite season of the year. Why you might ask? Take a look around. Green is literally everywhere. Trees, wreaths, those awesome, Christmas sweaters, jackets, scarves — I’m almost overwhelmed. It’s fantastic. Since most of you are already wearing green this season, why not go green as well?

Let’s start with decorations. I’m impressed with the work I’ve seen so far. However, for those of you though who haven’t started, or who will be adding to your already extravagant displays in an effort to procrastinate during finals, I ask you to consider three things: reusing last year’s decorations, LED light strings and your recycle bin.

If you feel like your old decorations are looking a little drab, take some time to revamp them. A little arts and crafts can go a long way and is always a higher priority than finals. LED lights are a bit more expensive, but they do save energy. And they’re cool — literally! LED lights don’t heat up like incandescent.

Now for your recycle bin. My challenge to you is to take one item from it and turn it into a decoration. Turn all of those old, unread copies of The Observer piled up in your room into snowflakes or use snack wrappers as a type of papier-mâché.

For tree decorations, reuse your tinsel! String popcorn and spray paint pinecones. Make those adorable, edible gingerbread ornaments. String up some clementine peels and fill your home with a citrus smell. If you have old puzzles lying around that are missing a few too many pieces, glue and spray paint them into lovely picture frames. Most importantly, when it comes to the end of the season, please(!) don’t pitch the wrapping paper from your door or the garland hanging in the halls. Reuse and recycle!

When it comes to gifts, remember it’s the thought that counts. First, for the packaging: If you still have newspaper leftover after the snowflakes (or if you’ve convinced yourself that that’s asking for a bit too much creativity), use it for gift wrap! You know what also makes for wonderful wrapping paper? Old grab-and-go bags.

For those of you who opted against using reusable bags, this is one way you can make it up to me. Instead of ribbons, consider using shoestrings or tape measurers.

Second, for the stuffing: While stores may tempt us with sparkly tissue paper and noisy bubble-wrap, consider some earth-friendly alternatives. Stuff your packages with dry pasta you never got around to eating, or scraps of fabric from old shirts.

Third, for the gift itself: If you haven’t gotten the hint yet that I love homemade, I’m suggesting the technique yet again. Family members always seem to appreciate these. If purchasing new is really your only option, take reusable bags to the store with you and opt for things that are made in an eco-friendly fashion. Have a coffee-lover in the family? They sell nifty reusable filters for most coffee pots. Help them stock up for next year with a bag or two of Fair Trade coffee beans. Or there are always numerous reusable mugs to choose from … You get the idea.

‘Tis the season to be green, so go out there and make me proud. Happy greening and happy holidays!

Email your predicaments to The GreenMan at

askthegreenman@gmail.com and let him answer you with a sustainable twist. The GreenMan will be here every other week to provide you with insights you never knew you were missing out on until now.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.