Dawes Arboretum is looking to sponsor green parties in the arboretum's Red Barn as a way to help people support the environment-friendly movement.

Dawes Arboretum is looking to sponsor green parties in the arboretum's Red Barn as a way to help people support the environment-friendly movement.

Seventeen-year-old Northridge student Rian Harper, who had a "green" birthday party at Dawes last month, started the idea. The 22 guests wore green, wrapped presents in recycled paper, planted a tree as a group and didn't use any dishes that had to be thrown away.

"She said it was something they've been learning about in school and decided it was something she wanted to do," said Laura Appleman, Dawes' public-information officer. "We were pretty impressed."

Appleman said the party promoted Dawes staff to think about other ways to promote green events.

"We learned a lot from this. We're putting together some guidelines and want that to be an option," Appleman said.

Dawes already is developing a party room in what's known as the red barn on Davis Road. Though the barn no longer is red, the name has been kept because that's how most people know the facility.

Appleman said the barn already has electric and water.

Dawes officials hope to apply for state grant money to add solar panels and a windmill so guests would have the option of using solar and wind power for an event.

"Maybe we could charge a different rate for those who don't have to use (conventional) power," Appleman said.

To be green, party hosts would have to use dishes that could be washed and nothing that would end up in a landfill, such as Styrofoam lunch containers.

"We need to find an environmentally friendly caterer," Appleman said.

Appleman sees the initiative as a good start.

"You don't see that in business-facility rentals," she said. "It's something different. We'd like to give people the option."

Green is a new buzz word for being environmentally friendly. Several organizations have started initiatives to help people in that regard. One is called the Go Green Initiative, which several school districts have adopted. According to the initiative's Web site, the world population is increasing and the limited amount of natural resources is suffering.

The site lists the following notes about recycling:

Every ton of paper that is recycled saves 7,000 gallons of water, 380 gallons of oil and enough electricity to power an average house for six months.

The amount of electricity that is saved by recycling one aluminum can could run a television for six hours.

By recycling one glass bottle, enough electricity is saved to power a 100-watt bulb for four hours.

Appleman said Dawes officials are excited about the program and thankful to Harper for giving them the idea.

"It's one thing we really wanted to get into, and this girl got it started," she said.

lwince@thisweeknews.com