Holiday gift sale offers recycled, environmentally friendly gifts

By Sue Vorenberg, Columbian features reporter

Published:

 

If you go

What: Check ‘Em Off Green holiday gift sale

Where: Marshall Community Center, 1009 E. McLoughlin Blvd.

When: Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Admission: Free

Information:http://bit.ly/green_holiday

In the five hours of the Check ’Em Off Green holiday gift sale, your true love might buy for you: Fabric gift bags, earrings made of tin cans, glass jar candle holders, wood knot napkin rings and recycled plastic carry-all bags.

Those might not be the items the original author of “The 12 Days of Christmas” had in mind, but the recycled and green-friendly Christmas sale could help you knock out several of the hard-to-buy-for names on your holiday shopping list.

Check ‘Em Off Green is an annual event put on by Vancouver Green Drinks, a networking group for people interested in sustainability and environmental consciousness. This is the second year that Terra Heilman and Laura Sauermilch have organized it.

“The idea is that somebody should be able to check every person off of their holiday gift list in a green way,” Heilman said. “All the products have to support a sustainable lifestyle in some way.”

Several vendors from the summertime Recycled Arts Festival plan to participate, as do other artists and crafters from around Clark County.

“I think the furthest away people are coming from, we’ve got one from Eugene, one from Olympia,” Heilman said. “A lot of them are from right here in Vancouver.”

Green Drinks makes no money from the show. The Marshall Community Center, 1009 E. McLoughlin Blvd., donated the space and vendors don’t have to pay to have booths.

“All Greek Drinks events are free, but we do ask vendors to make a special donation to the Marshall Center,” Heilman said. “We also ask them to help us promote, because we don’t buy any advertising. This is an event that we wanted to see happen, so we just sort of made it happen.”

For its kickoff last year, the sale had 48 vendors and drew about 1,000 people. This year, 70 vendors are planning to attend, and the organizers expect even more visitors.

“Last year, we had vendors sell out with about two hours left,” Sauermilch said. “It was amazing.”

Some of the other items for sale include recycled T-shirts, guitars and ukuleles made from cigar boxes, belts made from old bike treads and even reusable sandwich bags.

“It’s a little bit of everything,” Heilman said. “The guitars, the ukuleles, I think those are up around $60-$70, but a lot of the stuff costs under $20.”

Sheila Pendleton-Orme sold jewelry at last year’s event. She makes it out of aluminum cans. This year, she’s also selling purses and shopping bags that she’s made out of animal feed sacks and recycled fabric.

“I have a horse, and I was looking at the feed bags like, ‘Hey, what can I do with those?’” said Pendleton-Orne, who also sells items at the Recycled Arts Festival. “Last year, I actually did better in those few hours of Check ‘Em Off Green than I did in those two days of Recycled Arts.”

Folks who buy items at the event can also go for environmentally friendly wrapping. The wrapping station volunteers will cover gifts in paper made from Sunday comics, old posters, blue prints and will use things like old VCR tape as ribbons, Sauermilch said.

“You really can’t recycle gift wrapping paper because it has that metal quality to it,” Sauermilch said. “And for that you only really use it for about 20 minutes under the tree.”

Sauermilch also sells reusable fabric gift bags at the event. She makes them from cloth scraps that she gets from Goodwill and other shops around town.

“I make holiday ones for various seasons, and I make them in several sizes,” Sauermilch said. “I make a wine bottle one, too.”

For more information about vendors, or to check out some of the items before heading over to the sale, visit http://bit.ly/green_holiday.