Archives for category: gifts

OK, V-Day is just around the corner! I know, I know, I wrote my last post about it too, but I figured there were so many fun things out there that I needed another place to showcase them!

Now I’m not really a gift-inclined Valentine person (note the avocado in previous post), but some of these crafty things are begging to have a reason for gifting. Need some sweet eco-friendly ideas for your Valentine? Check out a few of these babies:

Score some points with this lovebird necklace (made out of vintage recycled metal!!).

Snuggle up some love with Carson , the eco-friendly pogo pal made out of repurposed wool. Ok, SO cute! What exactly is a pogo?

Pretty up your house with this Sugar and Spice Valentine banner made out of vintage and upcycled fabrics! I’m starting to adore all of these things that can hang around my house…Yes, it’s a problem. 🙂

Gratuitous plug for my own V-day craftiness (!)…check out my little wool heart pins upcycled from a felted wool sweater that was left in very sad shape at the thriftstore:

http://www.etsy.com/listing/66114863/my-little-wool-heart-pin-green-and-blue

 

Finally, for all you people who will boringly propose to your guy or gal on Valentine’s Day (yes, you know who you are) at least liven things up with something like…

A cool ring made from an antique spoon !

Or a steampunk ring made out of a vintage mechanical watch (neat-o!!).

So…maybe try to be a little sweeter to the earth this year on V-Day without having to be less sweet to your Valentine :).

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Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Yet another major consumer holiday!! I’m not particularly attached to V-day, but there is something nice about all the sweet little heart shaped thing-a-ma-bobs that show up around this time of year. So, I want to think about two interrelated things for a moment: 1) how much consumption occurs on or around V-Day, and 2) how we can do things a little bit differently.

CONSUMER-RAMA!!!
Ok, some consumption facts from Green living tips :

1. Apparently V-Day ranks #2 in global card sending (just behind Christmas) at a whopping 1 billion cards sent annually!!! (Yikes, except, of course those who a) forget (guilt, guilt, guilt) or b) decide you hate everyone too much to send a card).

2. More than 36 million heart-shaped chocolate boxes are sold annually (groan, that’s a lot of chocolate, esp so soon after the winter holiday indulgence).

3. It’s the #1 day for sending cut flowers around the country.

So…wow, V-Day has a lot involved: cards, candy, flowers, food, jewelry, the list goes on! And, in the meantime, we already know that not only does it cost a lot, but it creates a lot of waste, excess, and not-so-nice things in the process (i.e. blood diamonds? hmmm).

How can we rethink V-Day? Make it a little more sweet, a little less excessive? A little more eco-friendly, planet-friendly, human/animal-friendly?

A few years ago, P gave me an avocado and a Marzipan bar -oooh boy! Love those avocados – and they’re good for your heart. But, I guess not everyone was thinking quite so green…So, here are some alternatives:

Still planning to send cards? Try an e-card! Of course, there are those who are resistant to sending/receiving e-cards and those who don’t have e-access, like all of my grandparents. If that’s your situation, try a card made from recycled paper . This is super cute and simple!

Want to give something sweet to your sweetheart? Try these Valentine almond nougat bars from Have It Confections. Made with local, natural, and organic ingredients!

Still thinking about sending/giving flowers? Think outside the florist shop with these
sweet little recycled paper blooms .

So, go forth and spread a little V-Day love! And P, if you’re reading this, I’d really like another avocado this year… 🙂

Today as I was riding the bus into campus I realized I was wearing a hat that my mother crocheted some years back, a set of mittens that my sister knitted me for the Christmas I went to Spain, and a beautiful knit scarf from an old childhood friend. Not to mention that my oversized parka was a hand me down from my grandmother’s closet.

I sat there thinking a bit about how much items we produce in the world can connect us to other people. For instance, I know that the three women who gifted me my winter apparel took the time to make something they thought I would like and to use their creative skills to put a smile on my face. I know that every time I wear that jacket, I think about my grandmother, bustling around in it, never sitting still.

The people and stories behind the items is what actually makes them something meaningful that we can appreciate. That’s why I think it’s important to take a moment (or a lifetime) and consider where all of the “things” in your life are from. Do you know who grows your food? Do you know who makes your clothes? Do you know where your dishes and lamps were made?

It seems like it’s impossible to know where everything in our lives came from. Also, part of the cool thing about our globally widening worlds is that we can share a bit of material culture back and forth with people across the ocean, but we also have to be cognizant of how our connections and consumption can make both positive and negative impacts in the world.

Part of my mission this year is to be more conscious about my crafting and gifting. I love creating beautiful and relevant items for the people in my life, but I also want to become more aware of the connections to other people that I am forging when I make my items. Where are my fabrics coming from? Who makes the beads and crystals that I like using? How can we craft in sustainable, human/animal/planet-friendly ways, that make enduring, caring connections rather than exploitative ones that might be invisible if we don’t take the time to look?

These are the questions I’m realizing more and more that I need to ask myself and other people.

My major, fun, eco/budget-friendly crafting approach is “re-ware-ing,” so for the next few posts, I’ll be concentrating on creative re-ware uses for particular items that you have in your household. Today, we will contemplate…the sweater. Deep breath in…and out. Move into downward facing dog – ok, on second thought, that’s a terrible position to read a laptop or to try and craft from, so maybe not :).

The sweater – what can you do with your old, worn out, perhaps slightly hole-y (yes P, I’m talking ’bout you), sweaters? I have been wracking my brain trying to come up with creative re-uses because I frequently come across poor misshapen sweaters at the thriftstore from people who apparently are illiterate or impatient when it comes to garment care tags. HELLO, buy a bottle of wool wash and do it in your bathroom sink, don’t ruin that beautiful purple merino cardigan…

Regardless, when these incidents do happen, or you just wear out your old sweaters, here are some neat things to try (or buy if you are so inclined):

Turn that frown upside down and make yourself a new pair of…slippers! Cute, cute, cute!

http://www.etsy.com/listing/64349313/hand-appliqued-felted-wool-slippers-warm?ref=tre-4d28dbc9043b6d91154ff10f-2

Or make some cute little pouches for carrying around little fun things:

http://www.etsy.com/listing/65456766/trio-of-valentines-pouches?ref=v1_other_2

How about this amazing jewelry tray?

http://www.etsy.com/listing/51191798/jewelry-tray-container-wool-felted?ref=sr_list_19&ga_search_query=felted+upcycled&ga_search_type=handmade&ga_page=&order=&includes[0]=tags&includes[1]=title&filter[0]=handmade

Or these happy heart mittens?

http://www.etsy.com/listing/65518056/happy-heart-mittens-for-her-fully-lined?ref=sr_list_24&ga_search_query=felted+upcycled&ga_search_type=handmade&ga_page=&order=&includes[0]=tags&includes[1]=title&filter[0]=handmade

This cozy pillow?

http://www.etsy.com/listing/25491782/upcycled-sweater-pillow-with-needle?ref=sr_list_29&ga_search_query=felted+upcycled&ga_search_type=handmade&ga_page=&order=&includes[0]=tags&includes[1]=title&filter[0]=handmade

Or this lovely festive felted garland?

http://www.etsy.com/listing/65510310/felt-garland-with-super-bright?ref=sr_list_3&ga_search_query=felted+upcycled&ga_search_type=handmade&ga_page=2&order=&includes[0]=tags&includes[1]=title&filter[0]=handmade

I am so inspired, I want to make one of each RIGHT NOW!!! But first I need a good thriftstoring trip to find me some old sweaters. Dang it, I just hate when I have to go to the thriftstore :).

Hopefully these cute and creative crafts inspire you to salvage your old sweaters, or give them to someone crafty who might make you something neat and sweet. If you want to try your own hand at felting old sweaters, check out this handy dandy tutorial:

http://www.craftstylish.com/item/2259/how-to-felt-sweaters

Crafts away! Got any other neat ideas for what you can with old sweaters? Let me know!

Ok, so this soon after the holidays has me still thinking about better-ing my holiday wrappings. Christmas mornings now aren’t quite the aftershock they used to be when I was a kid — the living room floor a sea of wadded up wrapping paper balls –but I know we can still do better if we channel a bit of creative gift-wrapping spirit.  I had a dream last Christmas that all the little girls and boys would receive their toys in eco-bamboo gift bags and wrapping paper that turned into non-toxic environmentally friendly bubbles once it was torn away…ok, well I suppose that scenario seems unlikely, so what CAN you do?

1. Have a partner who detests gift-wrapping, so they give you all your gifts covered in afghans, pillow cases, and (GASP) plastic bags you’ve brought home from the store because you always forget your tote.  *I wouldn’t mind, but maybe some of you would, so on to #2!

2. Have someone at the mall gift-wrap for a charity donation so you feel less guilty – it balances out, right?  *Ok, well, you get an “A-” for lame philanthropic effort, and a “C-” for eco-friendliness because while you were killing more trees with your wrapping paper I’m sure you didn’t carpool or ride your bike to the mall…Did you? Be honest now!

3. Make dozens of fabric gift-bags from all of your sewing scraps with your endless free time as a grad student. *Yes, my original plan, but it never seemed to come to fruition…

4. Re-use old gift wrap. *Confession: I have ironed wrapping paper before to make it look pretty again. And I intend to  do it again if need be!

5. Find a neat-o seller on Etsy that specializes in cool fun gift bags n’ things. Like these cute hand-made gift boxes:

http://www.etsy.com/shop/ecovintagevegan?section_id=5851963

Or these fun bags/wraps:

http://www.etsy.com/shop/SewPlayfulBoutique?section_id=7589728

Before the next great consumer holiday, here are some #’s to think about (courtesy of http://environment.bluepanestudio.com/sustainability/conservation-tips):

“Americans send two billion holiday cards each year, so just a 1 percent reduction could save fifteen thousand trees.”

“Two-thirds of households buy new Christmas decorations each year […]. If these households diverted just $6 of their decorating budget to reusable items,  the money saved could pay to heat 5.9 million New England homes for every hour between Christmas and New Year’s Day.”

“Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, Americans produce an extra two billion pounds of garbage per week, much of which is gift packaging.  If 40 percent of US households reduced their holiday paper consumption by just two sheets this year, the savings could gift wrap Manhattan Island.”

And that’s a wrap!

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