Greener BeeGreen HolidaysKeeping your holiday season “green”

I was the weird kid in high school who sat in the cafeteria and asked people to give me their empty chip bags.

As fun as it was to accost random teenagers for their “trash” and to yell at others for putting actual trash in my big black garbage bag, it was all in pursuit of art, and a cleaner environment (and my senior project credit). I cleaned and cut those bags into strips, and then taught people how to make recycled bracelets – using the gum wrapper chain method – in an effort to reduce landfill waste.

I remember giving away a lot of “trash bracelets” that year for Christmas. This type of recycled craft, plus baking and re-gifted items, are all gift alternatives recommended by the New Hampshire Department of Environment Services to keep the holidays “green.”

In its November version of the “GREENworks” publication, DES points out that non-store bought gifts are good antidotes to some of the most wasteful aspects of the holiday season: wading through living rooms covered in wrapping paper, wondering what to do with all the nice, though admittedly junky, gifts you received, and keeping an eye on that budget in order to set aside enough “present money.”

“If everyone wrapped just three gifts in reused paper or fabric gift bags, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 hockey rinks,” DES said. “And that’s just the wrapping; there’s also the shopping and shipping and the great accumulation of stuff that inevitably occurs every year.”

DES suggests that people convert dollar limits on Secret Santa or Yankee Swap parties to “DIY” presents only. Repurposing old gifts (are you really going to use that ladle you got five years ago?), arts and crafts, cookie ingredients in a mason jar, or just a pan of fresh cookies with decorative newspaper wrapping are all other options, too, enumerated in the GREENworks publication.

I also happen to have some experience with not just recycled, but natural, arts and crafts. In my stint as a summer volunteer for the Little Nature Museum during college, I put on several crafting workshops. Sitting on a picnic table bench at the museum’s then-location in Contoocook, I taught kids (and adults) how to do the trash bracelets, pine cone critters and even some ocean-inspired mosaics using a flat rock, seaglass and spackling paste.

All three options require a collection of some sort, either beneath pine trees in the woods, along the beach or in a high school cafeteria. The pine critter is the easiest: all you need are some pine cones, googly eyes and glue.

For those aspiring to celebrate the holidays “green” style but lacking confidence in their crafting abilities, Prescott Farm in Laconia is offering two workshops on Saturday.

The first, a nature-themed holiday ornament class, will take place between 10:30 a.m. and noon. People will learn how to make pinecone owls, milkweed mice, wool felt acorns, birch bark sleds with pinecone critters, all with natural materials.

From 1 to 2:30 p.m. that day, the farm will show attendees what they can do with the items in their recycling bin. The workshop will demonstrate how to make holiday ornaments and gifts from 2-liter soda bottles, cardboard milk cartons and business envelopes.

Prescott Farm is asking anyone who is interested to register for the workshops. Prices are $15 ($12 for members of the farm) for an adult or adult-child pair. Additional children are $4 each.

Register by visiting or by calling 366-5695.

(Elodie Reed can be reached at 369-3306, or on Twitter @elodie_reed.)

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