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Students make green products

Originally published in the North Texas Daily on November 24, 2010.

Putting paper in the blender may sound like a silly idea, but for Denton resident Melissa Haas, it’s a way of recycling.

“About five or six years ago, I started making Christmas cards,” Haas said. “I was an environmental major, so I was very interested on how to reuse cards I receive, but it wasn’t until I found out that a good friend of mine made some paper with her first graders, I thought ‘Well, if first graders can do it, so can I,’ and I have been doing it ever since.”

Many students are finding simple ways of recycling and reusing items, to help the environment and save money.

“Making your own stuff is a lot cheaper in the long run,” said Madison Gilbert, a visual arts studies freshman. “Often times, if I go shopping, a big factor to if I actually buy something is if I can make it.”

Gilbert sews various things and paints shoes, especially if she feels like she needs a new wardrobe.

“Four generations of women in my family make their own clothes, me included, so I’ve grown up being crafty and creative,” Gilbert said. “I’ve also grown up on a budget, so I have learned to work with what I have and being cheap about it.”

The North Texas Energy and Environment Club also gets in on the recycling action by promoting creative ways to substitute everyday items.

“We’ve made everything from an everyday cleaner to face wash to pet shampoo,” said Erin Chalkley, home furnishing merchandising junior and president of the North Texas Energy and Environment Club. “We are also going to start making other things like our own vermiculture.”

Haas, who sells her recycled paper at www.etsy.com/shop/PERKSbyMelissa, goes through an eight-hour process to make her own paper.

“I generally start off with newspaper scraps, copy paper, construction paper and various other types,” Haas said. “Then I shred all of the pieces and leave them in water for a few hours to a day. I put them in a blender and leave them out to dry on a screen. It’s a great way to make greeting cards.”

Haas said learning to make your own products takes time, but in the end it’s rewarding because of the creativity gained.

“Giving new life to used items is a passion of mine,” Chalkley said. “Our goal is to spread awareness of going green and how to save as much energy as we can.”

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