While the Northeast was adrift in a white Christmas, Ashland residents and merchants have tried to keep the season green — as in environmentally responsible.

While the Northeast was adrift in a white Christmas, Ashland residents and merchants have tried to keep the season green — as in environmentally responsible.

Pam Hammond of Paddington Station said she 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."

Just before Christmas, Hammond showed a visitor an array of gifts that fit her philosophy, including a stuffed rabbit made entirely out of recycled plastic 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.

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

Hammond said her favorite green product is the Sodastream, a home soda maker produced in 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.

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 with LED (light emitting diodes) 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."

With a sense of humor befitting a British pub owner, Chester said, "I've even recycled all of my employees from last year."

The green feeling extends to Christmas trees, too. Some Ashland residents have purchased live trees they plan to plant after the holidays.

"We purchased a growing live tree with a root ball," 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 have foregone trees altogether, using different materials to achieve the same effect.

"I'm just buying eucalyptus branches and hanging decorations on those," 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 lights in its Festival of Light celebration to LEDs, which use less electricity.

Robbin Pearce has been implementing her own ideas, as well as taking tips 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. Now it's "reduce, reuse, re-purpose, and then recycle if there is anything left," she said.

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