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West Middle School seventh-grader Ryan Ruff has a motto when it comes to saving the environment -- one kid at a time.
It's important for each individual to act now and do their part to reduce, reuse and recycle, he said, and to help out with that goal he has come up with an idea.
His ideas developed when he saw wrapping paper strewn everywhere at the homes of his grandparents. Thinking about all of that paper going to waste, he thought up an alternative way of packaging gifts - eco-friendly bags.
Ruff has since taken his ideas and turned them into three homemade videos he entered into The Kentucky Green Team Online Film Festival contest.
The festival is a new initiative started in 2008 by First Lady Jane Beshear to highlight sustainable environmental practices thought up in the minds of the today's youth.
Videos for the statewide contest are viewable on YouTube, falling into three categories: a public service announcement regarding the need to reduce energy consumption, a short film highlighting environmentally-friendly habits, and a short film describing a new idea to help reduce energy use in the Commonwealth.
Liz Ruff, Ryan's mother, said her son is trying to decide whether he wants to be a writer of a filmmaker, so when he saw the details on The Kentucky Green Team Online Film Festival contest, he saw it as his opportunity to make films.
In Ryan's public service announcement he encourages the youth of Kentucky to act now and says, "Going green means living green and making a positive real life difference."
Many people have gotten his message so far. As of Thursday afternoon Ruff's public service announcement had more than 200 views on YouTube.
"Although some have been viewed more than Ryan's, they were made available before his were for viewing," Liz said. "We have a really good chance."
In his short films, Ruff says young people should dig a little deeper to be more environmentally friendly, and gives examples of using reusable water bottles, rain barrels to collect storm water for use in gardens, and more.
But it's Ryan's new innovation that he spends most of his time discussing in the videos, and it's an idea that is literally taking him places - the eco-friendly gift bag.
The school invited Ryan to make a few sample bags and present his idea and films at the Chamber of Commerce Showcase on March 28.
"My goal this year is to not use plastic or paper gift bags at all, but to use eco-friendly gift bags, and I hope when the holiday season rolls around we will have a new line of eco-friendly gift bags to give instead of paper or plastic gift bags," he said in one video.
For more information and a link to the contending videos, visit http://greenteam.ky.gov/filmfestival/vote.htm and vote for your favorites. Click the underlined "Groups" to see the videos.
Public voting runs through March 15, and the top 10 vote-getters in each category will be announced on March 16.
The finalists will be narrowed to one in each category by a panel of celebrity judges with Kentucky roots.
Each category's winner receives a $1,000 prize from the Louisville Film Society, a co-sponsor.
View Ruff's videos:
Going green one kid at a time
Dig a little greener
Gift bags for the eco-minded