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Green fun: Shop, entertain, and especially, give

Going green doesn’t mean you have to sit at home with the lights off tallying up the day’s carbon emissions on a recycled grocery bag. Yes, you can still buy stuff!

Here are some low-impact ways to shop, entertain and help your family have fun while staying reasonably true to green principles.


Buy gifts at artisan fairs and look for items made of salvaged materials.

Shop in antique or thrift shops to find one-of-a-kind gifts that weren’t made in overseas factories that spew pollutants. Thrift stores are great places to assemble boxes of dress-up clothes and costume jewelry for children.

When Halloween lurks around, remember that secondhand shops are full of sparkly costumes and accessories that may have been used only once for dance recitals.

Give tools and gadgets to young inventors so they can make things out of reusable items. Make sure you’re not buying anything made from wood of an old growth forest.


For big family affairs, don’t go out and buy extra dishes or entertaining items. Check with your local rent-all store — you can probably rent everything you need.

Since prepared foods use a lot of packaging, it’s better to make things from scratch. Send the leftovers home with guests.

Lower the temperature in your house before your guests arrive. Their very presence will heat up the house, and they’ll actually be more comfortable if you turn the thermostat down .

Soy, vegetable wax or beeswax candles for accent lighting.

When memorializing your event, avoid disposable cameras. If you use film, use 36 exposure rather than 12.


What feels better than giving? And giving of yourself is just about the greenest gesture of all:

Everybody loves homemade food. Why buy if you have a flair in the kitchen or want to learn how to make cakes, pies, preserves, liqueurs, or candies?

Make something yourself. Learn to knit. Collect all your cooking secrets in a personalized cookbook. Write and illustrate a book for a child, with the child as the main character. Duplicate old family photos and make albums. Give grandparents framed pictures drawn by children.

Give certificates redeemed with your own time. Offer home-cooked dinners, baby-sitting, garage or closet cleaning. Older adults, especially, appreciate the help. Just be sure to follow through.

Martell is a feature writer for the Wisconsin State Journal. Contact:

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