D&M Holiday Gift Guide: Don’t buy it — upcycle it

We spent a delightful hour after school this month with the Mount Notre Dame H.S. Environmental Action Team, turning trash into treasures for holiday giving.

“Keeping stuff out of the landfill, and just not buying stuff you don’t need—it’s a small step, but small changes can add up,” said Nick Hosmer, faculty adviser to the Environmental Action Team. “For us, it’s part of our spirituality, and part of the mission of the Sisters of Notre Dame: a vision of a better world. That’s where it starts.”

“Recycling is not enough,” said junior Maddie Folkens, pointing to festive snowflake decorations made from toilet paper rolls, Christmas tree centerpieces crafted from old magazines, and colorful vases that were once discarded beverage containers. Everyone went home with a cute spruce tree seedling to plant, purchased at low cost from the Arbor Day Foundation. When it was time for pizza, out came the reusable plates and cups; no single-use disposables for these eco-warriors.    

The team’s next big project: a community garden on campus.

“People my age, we want to help,” said senior Kelly Kendall, one of the team’s student leaders, who plans to major in environmental engineering in college. “We realize that this” —the climate crisis— “is going to be affecting our lives in the future. We want to do something.”

Photos: Mount Notre Dame junior Sophia McCrary (with vase) and sophomore Rachel Noschang (with snowflakes) show off their upcycled creations; other Environmental Action Team members serve pizza on reusable plates.