Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Gift Giving - Locally, Ethically & Green.

It seems our society loves trends.  For some people, the trend turns in to a lifelong commitment (like my commitment to leg warmers) and for some it passes as soon as the craze does.  The last few years there has been a "buy local" trend. This is/was in order to support local struggling farmers, lessen our environmental footprint, and to know where our food comes from and how it's produced.  While we have become quite focused on where our apples may have been grown, we still don't seem to mind that most everything else comes from overseas.

This past April, a garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed killing over 1000 people.  While most people and news outlets were outraged and disappointed, it didn't stop anyone's dollars from flowing into stores like "The Children's Place" (yes, they made clothes there too - not just Joe Fresh).
Another "trend" where consumers were outraged for 15 minutes, demanded change, and ooooh 75% off pajamas…….

I'm saying this not to be "heavy" but to remind you that your consumer voice counts!  Put your money in things you say you believe in.  It is easy to beat up big retailers, but they are filling the demand we are creating!  

Whether or not you care about your environmental footprint, slavery and inhuman conditions in factories overseas, or don't think about what you buy at all 
you can still appreciate something handmade.   

While many of you are busy busy busy shopping for Christmas, I'd like to encourage you to support local artisans (or even friends and family) - and incorporate some handmade items to your gifts this year.

A gift for the Kitchen

Community Centres and the like are very busy this time of year with craft sales, Mom to Mom sales, and bazaars.  Make a point of visiting a few!  I picked up so many nice things this weekend.  Knitted dish cloths for $1.00/each?!?   In addition to hats, scarves, hand mixed scented room sprays, (and so much more) I found a great little gift for the kitchen!  

I'm going to go ahead and pull the description from the website:

"The SewEco Kitchen Wet Bag is perfect for storing wet rags, dishcloths, unpaper towels, etc., between washes. Waterproof, zip closure, and hangs from your stove or where ever you need it... it could hang from your stroller, too, for cloth diapers or wipes, wet swimsuits... or whatever you can think of :)
Wet Bags measure approximately 11x15 inches, have a waterproof PUL liner and a high quality 100% cotton outer. The liner and exterior are sewn separately to prevent any leaks and for a thorough clean when it needs a wash."

This is a local woman in my community, who also makes snack bags (perfect gift for kids - especially if you put something inside!), bowl covers and more.  If you're interested in something beautiful and homemade for the kitchen - this is the site:  www.seweco.ca or https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/GoSewEco?ref=shop_sugg

Gifts for Coffee & Tea Lovers….

I recently bought my first Cuppow.  Cuppow is a company in the United States (I know - not local, but NOT overseas)  Here's an excerpt from their site:

Cuppow is an American company that grew out of a need to develop everyday products that would help us decrease our own eco-footprint; we have been committed to that ideal from the outset, and seek to achieve it along every part of our process.

I love drinking from Mason jars and this little invention made it so much easier (and less embarrassing).  

I enlisted the help of a knitter to make me some cozies for my Mason jar so I wouldn't burn my hands. Look at how wonderful this is!  I love this combo for so many reasons:
- I don't see a lot of other people with this cup, it's very unique
- the Cuppow lid is eco friendly, BPA free and made in an accountable factory where workers are compensated fairly
- It keeps my coffee and hot lemon water REALLY hot!

The lovely lady who made this cozy for me doesn't do commercial orders, so I traded the cozy for some wool (she kept all the leftovers) which means 2 of them only cost me $10.00
Enlist a local knitter to make you a few and give it as a gift with a Cuppow lid and a bag of Fair Trade coffee for a thoughtful and unique gift!

Support the Arts

I've mentioned supporting the Arts in your community in a previous blog post 
And I'd like to add to that by encouraging you to buy original art!  I have a few original pieces in my house and I LOVE them!  They always get compliments, start a conversation and even lead to others looking for original art for their home.  
I may be partial, as my Oma and husband are wonderfully talented artists - but I really feel that everyone can enjoy art.  Here are two Ontario painters who sell their work:

Melissa Fernandes

'is that so' 24*36 acrylic 2013
Could you imagine having this beautiful piece hanging on your wall?  Melissa Fernandes is an incredibly talented woman in all areas of the Arts and visual arts is no exception.  She has had many successful exhibitions and has a beautiful portfolio   There are so many beautiful pieces of original art - stop buying mass produced crap and support a talented artist!

Amy-Lyn VanLondersele

Full disclosure, this artist is my sister.  She has been locally commissioned many times to create individualized pieces for.  Her artwork is whimsical and vibrant and should inspire you to start adding original pieces to your home! 

Last but not least….. Get Creative!  You - YOU, the reader - Get Creative!

These toys have been well loved the last few years.  Around 3 years ago, when my son began to read he could not get enough of Mo Willems' books!  He loved them so much I made him toys of the characters for his birthday.  The Knuffle Bunny can be seen to the left, and The Pigeon (with his own Knuffle Bunny) can be seen to the right.  I didn't have patterns for these, and just pieced them together as I went along.  I had made a few monsters prior to making these but by NO MEANS could be regarded as a professional - not even close!  Take your time and be confident in your creativity, you CAN make something wonderful and unique as a gift!

Side Note:
Notice that the Knuffle Bunny book has a barcode on the front cover.  I purchased that book from 
They sell discarded library books and new books to support worldwide literacy.  
Here is a small excerpt from their site:

"Better World Books is among a unique and growing group of triple bottom line companies who understand that profitis not the only way to measure business success. People also matter. And so does the planet on which we all live.
For Better World Books, the triple bottom line comes in lots of forms. From helping to build a nursing library in Somaliland to offering customers carbon neutral shipping on every book they buy, doing good is not just a part of Better World Books’ business—it is the business."

Let me encourage all of you to spend your money differently - spend it to make it count!  
Your consumer voice is important. 
If you have any other ideas for shopping local, ethical or green 
send me an email, I'd love to hear from you!


  1. So. Love. You. And all your blogs and ideas!

    1. I wish I could send a picture of me blushing! Thank you - that really means a significant amount coming from someone I admire.


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