Shopping for the holidays is fun, but it’s more fun to feel good about your choices. The choice of materials used to make your gifts is an important one that affects everything and everyone.
When I saw how much waste there was in the fashion industry, I was very upset, especially as a vegan seeing a room full of shoe leather samples about to be thrown away. So, naturally I asked for them, as they thought it was garbage. With permission, I carried home 700 animals on my back that hot NYC summer, and the sample room was saved. (That is, until new samples arrived, but by then I had quit). Not easy, but my conscience wouldn’t let me leave it there. How much is wasted? What chemicals and treatments are used, altering the original materials so they are not healthy for all involved? How much did not need to be there in the first place, especially anything to do with animals and toxic chemicals? How have these toxins affected the makers? What we can do now is to use any materials that are already made, and stop making the new ones that are harmful to animals, the environment, and us.
I informed the company owner, while sharing an elevator ride, of these wasted materials and proposed how he could use them for smaller products. I also explained the need for recycling bins on all the floors. He said thank you and that he’d look into it… Recycling bins did appear the next week and were immediately filled up. Not sure if he decided to use the samples, but in many companies now, recycled items are even more expensive than the regular material ones. It is a trend and it often costs more/uses more energy to recycle and process old materials into new ones. In some cases, depending on the product, we can use the old materials as they are to make something they were meant for. The preference is to buy fresh items, so could there be a new recycling process that is efficient, affordable, and responsible? This early work experience expanded my intention to have my own company and make healthy collections for all ages.
I made and sold many wallets, handbags, apparel, business card holders, etc out of the rescued/recycled leather samples and have now sold out of them. I included information about how these products were recycled. The downside to making things out of leather, even if recycled, is that it still visibly promotes the making and selling of animal skins, so…if you do buy recycled or vintage leather pieces, it’s important to tell others that they are recycled and not new. When you get a compliment on an item that was recycled or repurposed, you can thank them and add this special talking point of what it was made of. Then soon, word will spread, information will be known, understood, and accepted, and all the materials sitting around in warehouses and storage rooms can be used. People will understand the importance of wearing healthy materials on their skin and how harmful chemicals can injure their body. New, very sustainable plant materials can be the replacements, inviting positive inventors to come up with new lovely ideas and designs. Smaller collections can be ‘the thing’ again, with more attention to durability and detail. Oh, how all of the animals, empaths, vegans, children, pacifists, animal activists, and Mamma Nature will cheer!
There is a valuable wealth in what is already here. How can we use it well?
Organic fabrics and materials made of plants, from sustainable sources, are great for apparel, handbags, throw blankets, tents, shoes, outerwear, upholstery, and for all! What materials are being wasted in your industry? How can you promote a redirection for new uses of these otherwise wasted materials?
When holiday shopping, research for ethical, responsible companies. Buy less for your Dear Ones, but perhaps the things you do buy will be so very much appreciated in their positivity and healthy meaningfulness, the recipient will feel even more loved and adored. I inspire you to have a beautiful and healthy shopping experience. Ethicals brands are spreading, and also, many of these makers have so much fun inventing unique and powerfully positive gifts for you! Happy Holiday Shopping and Happy Creative Recycling! XOXO ~Amor Milagre
Some old recycled/vintage gifts you could give are: Records & record players, vintage handbags, family heirloom jewelry, handmade cards, reusable annual gift boxes, handmade gifts using unwanted materials (can be very nice as long as you craft it well), custom tailored apparel, raw materials to recycle as the imagination sees, antique books, and repurposed antique furniture, if not too dusty. Many community places would love craft materials, such as a jar of buttons for your local library’s children craft day every week. Fabric, felt, scissors, thread, etc would all be good to donate. Crafty teens, and all ages, like to frequent vintage clothing shops, so donating unwanted clothing and items would be fun for them to browse and recreate old into new. (Look for non-toxic, well made items in good condition to last another lifetime).
Gift Ideas to Prevent Too Many Materials to Be Recycled are: Reusable daily items in healthy materials such as glass containers for drinks, organic cotton tote bags and natural woven baskets for weekly shopping, washable lunch containers for all ages, and flower seeds from your garden (perfect time to gather seeds is now in the Autumn). Fresh fruit and vegetables are a wonderful gift as they are beautiful, delicious, and the packaging is edible/compostable. If a friend handed you a sweet pear as a holiday gift, wouldn’t you hug them? A basket of squash, pumpkins, broccoli, spinach, and apples? Lovely, my shopping for the week is done! A picnic or walk outside is also a wonderful gift: The gift of your company and friendship.
Support your community! Shop local, when available, to save shipping materials, fuel use, and to promote local makers.
For our good health and yours, Atelier Amor Milagre makes magical collections using responsible materials. For more information, please see the Ethical Materials Page. New Art & Design Studio Interiors are coming up 2020!
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Music of the Moment: Trouble In Paradise, Rufus Wainwright