Nature center offers Furoshiki, upcycling classes

The holidays don't have to mean going into debt buying expensive presents and stocking up on colorful paper, shiny bows and miles of ribbon.

The Environmental Nature Center, 1601 E. 16th St., offers a holiday workshop series to promote upcycling and sustainability through gift-making with old items and wrapping presents in reusable materials.

"We're giving folks the tools to be creative and give gifts that are homemade, which are more meaningful," said Director Lori Whalen.

The center is a 3-acre outdoor area that showcases 15 ecological habitats native to California, from desert to freshwater marsh to redwood forest. The center is free for the community and regularly offers educational programs for children to adults.

Naturalist Leslie Helliwell will lead the workshop on Furoshiki, a traditional Japanese cloth, and how it can be used to wrap presents. The cloth is re-usable and eco-friendly. Helliwell will teach participants creative wrapping techniques, practicing on wine bottles and watermelons.

"Last year, I used Furoshiki for all my wrapping and people loved it," Whalen said.

Traveling Naturalist Sama Wareh will lead the workshop on upcycling by teaching participants how to make gifts out of items that would normally be thrown away. Wareh will show how to make jewelry out of old gift cards and magazines, storage containers using baby food jars, and journals out of cardboard.

"[Participants] will walk away with gifts that they can give away," Whalen said.

The Furoshiki Workshop costs $10 and begins at 6 p.m. Dec. 11. The Upcycling Workshop costs $15 and runs at 6 p.m. Dec. 13.

Residents must sign up and pay program fees in advance. The best way to do that is to call the center at (949) 645-8489 or email Whalen at

Twitter: @britneyjbarnes

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