Tag Archives: environment

The Fabric of Sustainability

Consumer driven holidays make paper. We the people pour billions of dollars into the holidays, and paper is made, indeed. But that’s not the paper that this blog post is about. Lots of paper is spent buying gifts, but lots of paper is also wasted wrapping them.

Every Christmas, you can find me scavenging the family room floor for reusable scraps of wrapping paper. When I unwrap my gifts, I carefully untape the paper and fold it neatly in a stack. I cringe every time someone else rips their wrapping open, because I know the paper is wasted. But whatever I can salvage, I do. I’ve hoarded quite the collection over the years. At this rate, I should never need to buy a another roll.

But I’m just one person, and most people don’t hoard used wrapping paper. The vast majority gets shoved in the recycling or garbage, or fireplace. But maybe it’s time for a new trend. A cute one, too. This year, instead of wrapping my presents in customary Christmas paper, I’m wrapping mine in fabric. Why? Because it cuts out so much of my waste. As usual, I will be found sifting the rubble of my family’s traditional Christmas-present-opening ritual for less-traditional leftover fabric, and scraps of other people’s wrapping paper for next year.FabricWrapUse what you have left of last year’s wrapping paper, by all means. But whenever you run out, instead of buying a new roll of paper, consider replacing it with a roll of fabric. Fabric comes in all varieties of prints and colors, just like paper, but unlike wrapping paper, fabric is washable and durable, and, thus, easily reusable.

Considering your gifts will vary in size, one disadvantage of using fabric is that, unlike paper, you cannot trim the fabric to fit it to each gift. Instead, I just fold it to fit it, and tie it up with a ribbon. Cutting the fabric to fit a gift this year means it’s less likely to fit another gift next year. If you decide to fabric-wrap, I recommend you keep an assortment of small, medium and large pieces. Large squares should be big enough to cover boxes. Medium should be big enough to cover folded clothes. Small should be big enough to cover something small. If you’re left with extra fabric, tuck it under the ribbon you use to tie it, to keep it folded tight. And voila, environmentally sustainable gift-wrapping.

Lastly, one thing that’s key to reusing wrapping fabric is actually getting it back after distributing your gifts. Just be weird and tell your friends and family you need to hoard your fabric back for future reuse. If you’re sending gifts long distance, or they won’t be opened in your presence, just ask their recipients to a) save the paper and return it back to you when they next see you, or b) save and reuse that shit themselves.FabricOutOfTown

Give the gift of sustainability. It’s that easy.

Potaito Boards – Sustainability that You Can Skate On

Image source: https://www.instagram.com/p/c6ucvUlYpu/
Image source: https://www.instagram.com/p/c6ucvUlYpu/

Looking for the perfect gift for a skater this holiday season? Look no further. Two local sweethearts, Tait Detro and Margot Czeropski (both 23), built a skate business like no other, out of scraps and locally sourced, secondhand materials. Behold, Potaito Boards, the environmentally sustainable skateboard manufacturer that’s reducing the carbon skate tracks of the skating community, one sale at a time.

According to the Santa Cruz Sentinel, Detro began building his own decks out of scraps in his dad’s wood shop in East Palo Alto when he was 14, and “hasn’t owned a deck he didn’t make himself since” (Ibarra). Detro’s scavenging resourcefulness, combined with his and Margot’s frustration with the “glut of wood-veneer boards on the market” (Ibarra) sparked the flame that ignited this business into the operation it is now. As espressed on their website:

“…What’s the point of making beautiful shred-machines if we can’t do so in an Earth-friendly way? We pride ourselves in our dedication to environmental stewardship, building each longboard with sustainability in mind. Every deck is built from 100% high quality repurposed materials that would have otherwise gone to waste.”

Image source: http://www.potaitoboards.com/
Image source: http://www.potaitoboards.com/

So far, Potaito Boards are available for sale online on their website, and also in three retail locations: Berdels, Santa Cruz; Black Diamond Sports, Palo Alto; and Skateworks, Los Altos. They offer “3 different models… all designed to optimize ride quality,” thanks to their “unique lamination method [that] allows us to design each board with varying concave, camber, and kick for its specific riding style,” as stated on their website.

But,of course, the cherry on top of that sweet ride is the sustainability embedded in its US-manufactured wheels and locally sourced, recycled wood. Not only will your purchase be an awesome gift for a skater you love, but also a gift to the planet you live on, and an investment in a business dedicated to sustainability, so your loved one can “ride assured” knowing their board was constructed by the hands of people building toward a better world.

Give the gift of sustainability this season. Be the change we need to see in this world. If you can’t afford a board, I’m sure you can spare a follow, share or like. Thank you for your support!

Illustration by Anna Kachelries instagram @annafaith___
Illustration by Anna Kachelries instagram @annafaith___
PotatoApproved
This product is Potato-Approved

 

Wrap It Up—The Candy Condom Problem

PC D$
PC D$

Two weeks after Halloween, the true horrors of the holiday have finally come to settle in the streets—strewn with the wreckage and debris of trick or treaters, who have long since fled the scene of their attacks, shed their disguises and swallowed what evidence remains of their neighborhood raids. However, not all evidence has been disposed of. In fact, a significant amount of it remains, scattered around the suburbs, like Willie Wonka’s ashes.

Candy wrappers have come to rest in every crevice, every crack in every sidewalk, and congested every storm-drain. Whatever waste didn’t drain to the bay in Monday’s rain now occupies the sidewalks, driveways, gardens, lawns and parks of Redwood City (where I live), as if to protest last week’s post on zero-waste consuming.

In stark contrast to the packaging-free grocery store in Germany I reported on last Saturday, as usual, the USA dedicates one day a year to celebrate the core and fundamental values and customs of this country—over-consumption, excessive waste, obesity and greed. Scary, indeed. Every October 31, children nationwide take to the streets, armed with empty bags to fill, and fill them they do. And the dumps and landfills too.

Dare we try to quantify the damage? Let’s do some mental math. How many households do you think participate in Halloween? Many of which supply several bags of candy. How many assorted bags in all were purchased on behalf of Halloween? How many individual “treats” does that amount to? Each one individually wrapped. How many candy wrappers had to be produced to satisfy the national demand? I honestly have no idea, but you can bet it isn’t zero. A far cry from the waste-free lifestyle that I described last Saturday.

Yet we persist this wasteful custom year to year. Even our holidays and family traditions have evolved to represent the wickedness of our ways—selfishness, entitlement, immediate gratification… Children marching house to house demanding candy, expecting it, and worse yet, receiving it. Their greeting is misleading: “Trick or Treat?” It’s a command under the pretense of a question. We reward them, and for what? Even my dog has to do a trick to earn a treat.

Dare I say (of course I do) conditioning our children in this way just cultivates an expectation of getting exactly what we want from strangers who don’t owe us anything, and has already manifested a sense of entitlement in my and prior generations. Just look at Elliot Rodger, or the Christian outcry for a more Christmas-specific Starbucks cup, as if the Christmas color scheme isn’t exclusive enough. Just look at all those little shits on leashes pretending to be kids that are actually just tantrum-throwing “Gimme-more!” machines, the spoiled seedlings of future consumers and budding CEOs of future corporations. Rapists.

But I digress. Halloween can’t be held accountable for our entitlement and arrogance. However, our holidays have been persistent perpetrators and purveyors of waste—Halloween candy wrappers, wrapping paper, chocolate Valentines—the list goes on. The US has a compulsive packaging obsession, and it’s about time we address it.

Next year, you’ll find me handing out kiwis, oranges and bananas, pre-packaged as they are in natural wrappers, 100% compostable, not to mention considerably more nutritious than a Snickers, and arguably even more delicious. I won’t be very popular, no doubt. No problem. More for me. And whatever I can’t finish, I’ll feed to the worms, and spare the landfills.