Green greetings

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 December, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 December, 1995, 12:00am

'CHRISTMAS,' announced Heaven's eco-friendly angels this festive season, 'is going back to basics.' If you receive fewer Christmas cards or get a Snowman figurine, well, made out of an old milk bottle this Christmas, don't feel let down.

It may all have to do with what has become the catch phrase for this season of giving - a Green Christmas.

Bid farewell to excessive wrapping, heavy duty greeting cards, and loads of lavish items considered indispensable for Christmas, say the territory's growing generation of Christmas greenies.

They are pushing for a 'recycled Christmas' instead.

Chong Sui-yin and four school friends, for instance, made a Christmas tree out of fallen tree branches and an abandoned piece of green mesh they picked up at a construction site.

It won them 'The Most In Green Christmas Tree' at a design competition organised by Green Power.

'For a month we collected glossy plastic wraps our friends got from buying basketball flashcards and turned them into attractive ribbon ornaments for our tree,' said sixth-form Sui-yin of Sheung Kwai Chung Government Secondary Technical School.

Sui-yin has another great green tip.

'Last Christmas I recycled paper by dissolving newspaper and old rags in water and then drying them. Out of this I made bookmarks with Christmas messages to send to friends.

'Unlike Christmas cards, they are less likely to end in the bin after Christmas.' Do you relish Christmas flowers? Try cutting your own from newspaper and colourful magazines. The trick worked beautifully for Sui-yin's classmate, Cherry Yui Yuen-man.

Going green for Christmas really isn't that hard, Friends of the Earth workers will tell you. Take an old plastic tomato sauce or shampoo bottle, wash it clean, cut off the bottom, splash on some gold paint and you have trendy Christmas bells.

A soya bean drink maker may sound odd as a Christmas present for mum, but consider, in 18 minutes, not only does your family get a nutritious drink, but the bean residue can replace greasy oil to fry up a tasty dish of vegetables! Or take a tip from the popular Body Shop. 'Our wrapping is plain recycled paper and is available only on request from our customers. We use reusable gift baskets, but to give it a Christmas touch, we add a bright ribbon,' a staff member said.

For environmentally-conscious housewife Susan Pang, a green Christmas means getting back to the basic message of Christmas.

'The spirit of Christmas is really about giving. But many people in Hong Kong just throw away old clothes and toys. They think it is troublesome to take them to places like the Salvation Army, orphanages or donating them to the needy in China.' Pang is currently finishing up her award-winning book, Green Art - A Teachers' Handbook, which contains about 100 samples of arts and crafts using recycled goods.

The book, to be out January next year, also features green gifts for Christmas and Chinese festivals. It will be distributed to schools by the Education Department.

And watch out for the Friends of the Earth's festive tram parade on December 23.

A carol-singing children's choir will be out to remind everyone that, yes, they can still get Christmassy by going green.