Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Responsibly Made Flower Girl Dresses

With only four month until our wedding, planning is definitely in full swing, and I am trying to get more and more creative in order to keep our wedding as affordable and responsibly-sourced as possible. 

Dresses for our three flower girls have been throwing me for a bit of a loop -- I didn't want to buy from a big-box-store dress because of the environmental and social/public health implications, but I also needed to find three matching dresses (because apparently you have to buy young sisters the same dress or they will fight over them). And, of course, I'm on a budget.

This is where Etsy, which continually impresses me with its potential for awesomeness, comes in. I love that Etsy gives me access to artists and tradespeople in my larger community that I wouldn't have necessarily found using google or walking around my neighborhood. (They also have lots of "vintage" -- read: "used" -- finds). I think that often times when we need "stuff," it can feel like there are no other options aside from the big-box-stores or Goodwill, but Etsy is just one of many awesome alternative options for more responsibly sourced items.

After a little searching, I found a woman in LA who will make three flower girl dresses for us from a picture I sent her. And her price is more affordable than the original retail price of the pictured dress. So I saved money, supported a local tradeswoman, and did not support the labor shipping practices that I feel strongly against. I'm going to go ahead and call this a win.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Homemade Organic Furniture, Part Two!

I saw this wooden rocker and foot stool at a garage sale this weekend for $50 so I picked it up. The frame is awesome and sturdy, and will make a great base for an organic armchair! I'm pretty excited.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Sure, I want to shop sustainably and responsibly, but how?

In the course of the "buy nothing new" year, I've found that there are some items that are just much, much harder to buy used. In particular, electronics. Sure, there's always craigslist or something from a friend of a friend, but people want to make sure they are buying something that works, and I totally get that. 

The Significant Other and I are both in the market for new phones right now, as our previous ones are just about dead. I bought him a phone off of ebay, which has been working great so far, but then today I just stumbled across this totally awesome alternative option:

ReCellular is a totally awesome, sustainability-conscious company that allows you to sell them old cell phones and also purchase discounted refurbished models (apparently, they also deal in laptops and netbooks). 

Given how damaging our consumer tech culture is, I am super excited about this alternative for purchasing "new" electronics. 

This site is just one of many alternative options out there for people who want to find more sustainable and humane methods of purchasing. I've found that you really can find anything you could possibly need sustainably, it just sometimes requires a little extra research.

Don't have time to research? Check out my growing list of responsible producers and please, suggest any of your own favorites that may be missing!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Social Accountability Audits are a "Fraud"

I needed to read this after my slip off the wagon last week. It's just another reminder that impulsive purchases that seem so harmless and insignificant to us here in the states can have detrimental and sometimes deadly effects on people in other countries.

Here is the article I just read:
Safety Inspections by Social Audit Firms for U.S. Companies Called 'Facade' by Labor Groups 

From the article, about these "social auditing firms":
"Not only has it helped keep wages low and working conditions poor," the report's foreword states of the auditing industry, "it has provided public relations cover for producers whose disregard for health and safety has cost hundreds of lives."

Many U.S. companies, including Apple and other tech and clothing manufacturers, use firms like these to satisfy our country's half-hearted concern for people in other countries. I say half-hearted, because if we, as a country, were truly concerned, we would put effort into changing the working conditions, not just hiring a company to tell us that it's all okay. 

It's a good reminder that every time I make a purchase without researching the origin of the product, I am supporting this system that marginalizes and endangers people across the world, and has taken thousands of lives.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

I Fell Off the Wagon

So after 4 months of buying nothing new, I fell off the wagon last week. Here's what I bought:

Swimsuit (Made in USA)
Undergarments (Made in USA and Europe)

Two of these technically fall into my acceptable exceptions (Made in the USA), but I honestly didn't need any of these things. These were also all things I purchased for my wedding and/or honeymoon, which really makes me think about the pressures of the wedding industry and our consumer culture in general. Why do we feel the need to buy something shiny and new for these special occasions? Why am I being told to spend $$$$$$ on fancy new things for our wedding? Don't I already have nice dresses, swimsuits, and undergarments? And when did the process of shopping for wedding stuff become this all-important rite of passage for every bride to make a big deal of and share with her nearest and dearest (i.e. Say Yes to the Dress -- now there's a glorified monetary transaction)?

Okay that's a lot of questions there, but all of this really has gotten me thinking about how we've completely commercialized and put price tags on these special occasions in our life. Isn't a wedding about love (both with your partner, and with your family and friends)? Isn't Mother's Day about celebrating the woman who gave you life? Aren't birthdays about celebrating the awesomeness of special friends and family? And don't even get me started on Christmas and Hanukkah.

When did we start letting corporations sell us this idea of all this "necessary" stuff? The idea that you absolutely must purchase cute, themed tangible items for people on designated days of the year? And that you absolutely must have a new outfit for every special occasion? And that, if you are a bride, well then you absolutely must secure yourself a whole new wardrobe full of white dresses and bathing suits and shoes and bachelorette party apparel, etc.?

This whole notion of the "stuff" that is linked to these holidays and celebrations is so new. Do you think people in the 1930's and 1940's bought new outfits for every wedding and birthday party? Or bought presents for everyone they knew at Christmas? Or even received presents for so many of these holidays that have now been totally commercialized (i.e. Easter, Mother's Day, Valentine's Day)? Giving a gift used to be a special and unexpected gesture of compassion and friendship, and now it's become a required part of nearly every major holiday and celebration. So much so that we make registries to tell people what to get us, because we know they're going to buy us something. (I guess that's part of what really bothers me about registries).

So here I am to admit that, for a week or two there, I totally got sucked into this. I was sold the idea that my wedding would be less special if I didn't have "all the stuff," and I totally bought in. But now I'm seeing through the B.S. My wedding (and my life!) will be just as amazing, just as wonderful, just as special without "all the stuff" -- in fact, it might just even be better.