How to Find Real Things #1
I’m not a big fan of shopping or owning huge quantities of stuff.
When I do put on my modern hunter/gatherer hat, I think of my purchase as a vote. Do I spend my voting dollar on artisan-made or an overseas sweatshop? Am I going to vote for something that will last generations or for built-in-obsolesce? Will I purchase biodegradable or plastic? How about renewable resources, recycled, responsibly farmed, Fair Trade, local, nontoxic, or used? Do I even need to buy more stuff? Maybe the person I’m giving a gift to would appreciate something I already have or an honorary donation.
Real Thing Thursdays will try to highlight products you can depend on that support local communities and the Earth. I’m treating this as a weekly blog carnival, see below on how to participate.
Here’s my inaugural edition of Real Thing Thursdays:
All-American Canners at Red Hill General Store
If you want to stop buying disposable packaging at the supermarket and can your own healthier, local food in reusable jars, a pressure canner is an essential tool! There are cheaper models on the market and some of them may work fine. However, if you want a workhorse that will last for a lifetime (and more), I’d recommend the All-American Pressure Canner — just read the reviews. Made by the same Wisconsin company since 1930, their superior metal-to-metal sealing design means you’ll never have to replace a gasket. Mine has never needed repairs in 5 years of heavy use, but if you do experience a problem you can replace a part instead of the entire canner. Note that these canners aren’t compatible with smooth glass or ceramic stovetops.
Vietnamese stacked planters from Ten Thousand Villages
I recently toured our local Ten Thousand Villages shop and learned that many of the same products they carry are sold in big box stores. The kicker? Those stores are allowed to retain the “Fair Trade” label on the items even if they didn’t purchase it from the artisan group at a fair wage price. If you care about Fair Trade and want to feel certain that the items you buy represent that philosophy, Ten Thousand Villages is the place to shop. This year my boyfriend bought me a large planter that was handmade by the same Vietnamese artisans who create the blue swirled stacked planter shown above. I think their work is exemplary!
Recycled wool mittens at Etsy.com
We humans have become so flippant about clothing! I’ll admit that passing fashions have been around a while, but once upon a time, people valued fabric enough to repurpose it repeatedly until the scraps fell apart. With new clothes so cheap and accessible, we often don’t even bother to donate old items or give them away. Why toss something in the garbage when it could be made useful again, such as these cozy looking mittens made by recyclenancy, proprietor of Recycled Treasures? Things don’t have to be new to be new!
Your tshirts turned into a blanket at Etsy.com
While we’re talking about repurposed clothing, what about all those tshirts clogging up your dresser drawers? You know you only wear a fraction of them, and think about the ones riddled with holes? Even if you don’t feel sentimental about them you shouldn’t send them to the landfill. You can mail your old tshirts to jdstarLtdCo on Etsy to have them turned into a conversation-starting blanket! Or, if you’re crafty, why not do it yourself?
Young Mad Scientist Alphabet Blocks @ ThinkGeek
My favorite gifts for babies include natural fiber clothing, board books, and nontoxic wooden toys. I think these alphabet blocks from ThinkGeek are possibly the coolest small child’s toy I’ve ever seen. Mad scientist babies, here we come! D is for Dirigible, R is for Robot, and F is for Freeze ray. The illustrations are clever and beautifully depicted on sturdy, toxin-free maple blocks that can be passed down in your family for generations. Mix them in with your regular alphabet blocks for an extra dose of creativity and an early introduction to the joys of science.
This concludes the inaugural edition of Real Thing Thursdays, I hope you enjoyed it and will join in.
Readers are invited to participate! Here’s how:
- Write a similar blog post on sustainable products and post the link in the comments section.
- Post a comment describing a sustainable product you like that includes a link to that item.
- Describe an item you obtained sustainably (including reusing things you already have) that makes you feel proud.
- Leave a regular comment, no pressure!
Links to non-sustainable products will be deleted.