The art of having a green Christmas




Seeking that locally produced, eco-conscious, recycled, one-of-a-kind, incredibly creative and affordable gift for the person who really should get something special?


If you went on the Open Studios artists tour this past fall, you might have seen just the thing. Perhaps you took a business card, a brochure, chatted with the artist, even promised yourself you’d be back to pick out something.

OK, so the tour’s long over, the directory got thrown out, the card was misplaced, and you can’t even remember the artist’s name, or where you could buy one of her pieces. Fret not.

The Open Studios artists directory is available online, with photos of the artists’ works, links to their websites and contact information.

At the least, buying from local artists helps sustain our area economy and promotes the community art scene. Local art is not mass-produced abroad, turned out in sweatshops or by child labor, and you can often get it custom-made.

And if you investigate further, you can find an even greener benefit. Among the Open Studios artists are people recycling discards and outright junk into jewelry, pottery, garden sculptures, paintings and more. Take Mary Barron, owner of Adagio Art Glass in Boulder ( Where you might walk into, say, the ReSource Yard and see a stack of nondescript glass shelving, Barron sees anything from the unique paneling that might go on a kitchen wall to colorful fused-glass jewelry pieces.

“I started out working with stained glass,” says Barron. “Having kids made me ask myself whether I wanted to continue my exposure to lead and the chemicals needed to do it. Recycling glass meets my obsession for tree-hugging. I can use every bit of it; even pieces I can’t use for anything else I can grind into powder and embed into designs.”

If that’s the kind of artistic eco-consciousness that appeals to you, also check out Bruce Campbell of Longmont, who uses welding, engraving, carving and paint to turn salvaged industrial metal into public sculpture.

You can see examples at the Longmont Museum Cultural Center and at more about these and other creative locals, see the Open Studios Fall Artists Tours website at

Debating the eco-benefits of a real Christmas tree versus an artificial one? Uncertain about what to do with any tree past its prime, let alone broken ornaments, fractured lights, crumpled tinsel, discarded gift wrapping, melted candles and not-so-keepsake greeting cards?

(Let’s face it, a whole lot of waste can be generated by the average household’s holiday celebration.)

Get advice for greener holidays now rather than waiting to bundle everything up afterward for trash pickup and a long, useless afterlife in one of our landfills.

Download EcoCycle’s Zero Waste Holiday Guide ’10, now online at winter/index.cfm While you’re there, check out quirky but useful ideas for presents, such as the gift card for the frequent electronics recycler who would otherwise have to pay to unload old computers and gadgets at the Center for Hard-to-Recycle Materials.

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