Greenspace: Go green with this years' holiday gift-giving

Mittens made from old sweaters, jackets and fleece blankets are eco-friendly holiday gifts.

This holiday season, there are plenty of great gift ideas that will put you on a nice (to the planet) list. (Written on post-consumer recycled paper, of course.)

You can shop at a store with "Green" cred — for example, consignment shops such as Once Upon A Child and Man Cave Consignment, or resale shops such as 2nd Wind Exercise Equipment.

Of course, not all Green gifts have an easy-to-find store. Pennie Eisenbeis creates new things from old materials. This time of year, Eisenbeis sells mittens made from old sweaters, jackets and fleece blankets.

"They're 100 percent repurposed," Eisenbeis said. "Well, the thread is new."

A classically trained artist, Eisenbeis has been making the mittens and selling them around Christmas time for about 10 years. "I saw them someplace in Wisconsin for way too much money," she said. "I just figured out how to make them."


Eisenbeis doesn't just make mittens. She uses furniture and other objects otherwise destined for the landfill and turns them into functional art such as furnishings.

"I get materials from the dump, the side of road, garage sales," she said. "A lot of people know me and they just drop it off in my driveway."

While the path from new to used to reused at Play It Again Sports might seem obvious, Joe, the manager of the Rochester store on Elton Hills Drive, said the company's motto of reuse, recycle and replay is really about letting people try different exercise options without always breaking the bank.

"Our store allows people to get things that they otherwise can't afford," he said. Treadmills and ellipticals are a serious investment, so paying for a used item allows people to see what they like before scaling up to more high-end items.

And people who sell their equipment to Play It Again Sports generally use that money to reinvest in new equipment they purchase right here in Rochester. "That money also goes back into the economy locally," he said.

Not everything sold at Play It Again is used. In fact, Joe estimated that roughly 60 percent of their sales are from new items.

"We sell equal amounts this time of year," he said. "When people give them as gifts, they want them to be bright, shiny and new." That doesn't mean there aren't great deals to be had on exercise equipment — the kind that can help melt off those Christmas cookies — available right now.

The important thing is to get people into the equipment that will help them meet their goals. Then, when their goals change, to be there to help pass that along to someone else.


"We take an active approach and talk to them to give them the right recommendations for their needs." he said.

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