Gotta Buy Gifts? Really?
Dec 2
Let's recap. The election is over. No matter how you voted, one thing appears certain: the incoming administration is not interested in the environment. AT ALL. To be blunt: this blows. The best way to make big strides in trash reduction, reuse, recycling is to get corporate citizens involved. While there may be little regulatory incentive for that in the future, individuals can still make a difference. So let's get on it. Oregonians are on the forefront of environmental matters; let's NOT ease up the pace. First target: the holidays.

Whether you like it or not, it's that time of year. The time of year that's more of a chore than a gyno exam, more work than spring cleaning, more annoying than in-laws. Along with more (annoying) people around, the expectation for the "perfect holiday", and the push to consume, consume, consume comes a lovely side effect: waste. Container ships from China use gas and pollute our fishes. Wrapping paper, bubble wrap, cardboard. Where do you think it all ends up? Let's not talk about it. Let's do something about it instead.

First things first: If you have gifts to give, start with experiences (experiences over stuff!) then move on to items that are recycled, reused, and local. Concert tix, sporting events, a trip to a knitting convention are all better (and more fun) than something encased in rigid plastic (Hello Costco!) or shipped in from a sweatshop in India. You don't know where to start? Some suggestions: At the recent Vancouver Open Studios Tour I found a couple of artists that might cover a lot of the people on your list.

First is Allotropy Designs. Allotropy uses discarded bottles to make jewelry, lamps, bowls, candles, and plenty more (see Pics 1 through 3). Given the volume and style of earring and necklaces, plus the wine bottle lamps, I'm betting you will find some treasure here for many people on your list. Plus you'd be supporting a local artist and keeping bottles out of the landfill. (Yes, the landfill. If there is no market for recycled glass, those suckers end up in the landfill.) If you avoid wrapping your gifts, or wrap your presents in paper already sitting around the house (see this old post for tips), you can keep the trash creation to a minimum. Try some of those glossy magazines or comics pages you're hoarding in the basement for whimsical wrapping style.

The pottery of Kim Murton offers quirky animals and bizarrely appealing faces (Pic 4). Many are small in size - perfect for giving. Or keeping. She also makes cloth zip bags with skeletons on them. I have a niece that loves the macabre. I bet you have someone in your life that also is tapped into his or her dark side. Buy that kid a locally made skeleton something-or-other. Ms. Murton also uses cats in her designs (Pic 5). There appear to be a lot of cat people out there. Maybe you know one? Purrrrfect. (Couldn't resist. #dorkalert.) I went home with the nailhead person in Pic 6.

Ms Murton's husband, David Mylin, is also an artist, and they both have studios that were open last weekend. David Mylin works in metal. Scrap metal. Hmmmm. I didn't want to leave. He has some life-size statues of men made from scrap metal that were wonderfully random. One was made from an old washing machine. These are, of course, bigger gifts. They're more of a risk. But if you know someone who would like a crazy-cool metal sculpture, consider springing for one of these babies. Or buy one for yourself! You deserve it. Just don't buy the washing-machine man in Pics 7 and 8 (complete with good feet!): he might come home with me.

While it can feel hopeless at times, we all can make a difference every day in our world. Buy local. Buy recycled. Show you care. Wave a loud and proud middle finger to the rest of the world: show them Oregonians are truly and seriously different than the rest of the country. We don't need regulations to make us reduce; we will continue to do it all on our own. And, there are so many great, functional works of art out there to help push style and design forward, too, so why not make the world a prettier place while we're at it?


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