While the Northeast is adrift in about a foot of white Christmas, the residents and shopkeepers of Ashland are more concerned with keeping the holiday season as green as possible.

While the Northeast is adrift in about a foot of white Christmas, the residents and shopkeepers of Ashland are more concerned with keeping the holiday season as green as possible.

Environmentally green, that is.

The need to be green this holiday season has taken on particular importance, and "going green can be a powerful statement of your beliefs by using your spending dollar to send a powerful message," according to the Web site greenliving.suite101.com.

As with all things green, the key is to "reduce, reuse and recycle," the Web site states.

Local merchant Pam Hammond of Paddington Station said she is doing a lot more than she used to keep the business green and is "recycling the heck out of everything in the store."

"As a merchant, if I can offer products to the consumer that are good to the world, that is what I'm going to do," Hammond said. "It's really about thinking outside the box."

Hammond displayed a myriad of different items that fit this belief, including: a stuffed rabbit made entirely out of recycled bottles, a stuffed wolf made entirely of soy fiber on the outside and 100 percent kapok seed fiber from Africa on the inside, linens made from bamboo and greeting cards manufactured through an all-green process.

As far as green goes, the greeting cards are "the whole enchilada," Hammond said.

"A lot of times my customers pick up things they don't even know about," she said, "and when I tell them about it, they are amazed."

Hammond's favorite green product is the Sodastream Home Soda Maker, a drink maker from Israel.

"It is the best selling product of its kind in Europe," she said. "It is a drink mixer which uses CO2 cartridges and concentrated syrup to make flavored sparkling water." Hammond said she enjoys the product because it eliminates waste, is loads of fun and is highly cost-efficient.

Ashland resident Susan Chester, who owns the Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant, said she is making sure her home and business get a green bill of health this holiday season.

"I've replaced all of my Festival of Light lighting to LED this year," she said. "I'm not having a tree at home this year and I saved all my bows, paper and bags from last year."

In humor befitting of a British pubstress, Chester added, "I've even recycled all of my employees from last year."

Some residents have purchased trees intact with live rootstocks, in the hopes of planting the tree after its yuletide duties are over.

"We purchased a growing live tree with a root ball," Ashlander Paul Pollard said. "We are going to plant it in late winter or even maybe use it again next year, but it may already be rooted in. We have a farm and we are going to keep planting these things every year."

Some residents are foregoing the tree altogether and instead are using different options to achieve the same effect.

"I'm just buying Eucalyptus branches and hanging decorations on those," Ashlander Angie Thusius said.

This holiday season marks the beginning of the Ashland's Green Business Program, in which the city will look at its total environmental program. The city is also beginning to convert the Festival of Light lighting to LED.

Ashland Conservation Specialist and resident Robbin Pearce has been implementing her own ideas, as well as those from Risa Buck of Ashland Sanitary and Recycling, to make this season a little greener.

"I've been listening to Risa on how to produce zero waste," Pearce said. "I am so much better now than I was. I wrap packages in everything re-usable, and I am very creative."

Pearce has even extended the green mantra to "reduce, reuse, re-purpose, and then recycle if there is anything left."

F.B. Drake III is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Contact him at drakerusty@gmail.com.