01/11/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Sustainable Gingerbread Houses: From Seaweed Solar Panels To Coconut Landscaping

Turns out the cladding on Colleen Klabin's sustainable gingerbread house is Golden Grahams, not Multi-Bran Chex or Life Cereal. The roof is Shredded Wheat; the solar panels are pomegranate fruit bars.

"People have definitely been creative in their use of edible items," said Tara Casella, manager of the Essex County Environmental Center, in Roseland, N.J., which is running its fourth annual Sustainable Homes and Habitats Gingerbread Contest. "I saw some Rice Krispies, and someone made solar panels out of dried seaweed."

Entries had to contain at least three identifiable sustainable building elements, like solar panels, rain barrels or windmills. That an object is digestible -- which is to say, biodegradable in the most complete way -- is not part of the equation, although Janine Sweetman, 8, did admit to snacking on the Tic Tacs she used as framing on the pretzel windows of her house, bottom right, which she built in five hours.
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Run, Run as Fast as You Can...You Can't Catch Me, I'm Vegan Gingerbread?