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.”
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.
Gift-giving is always a gamble. There’s no guarantee the person receiving your gift will like or use it. You’re just giving them the option, if they want it. So take advantage of this solid opportunity to force unwanted crap on somebody you love to supply them with the tools they need, should they decide to utilize them, to make this world a better place for all of us, one meal / beverage at a time. Let your present double as a present to this planet, and by extension to yourself, by giving the gift of sustainability.
New parents describe their babies as eating, shitting machines, but to my knowledge, adults carry right on eating and shitting just the same. The only difference is adults have more responsibilities to tend to in between shitting and eating. Feeding ourselves is a lifelong commitment, and requires all kinds of equipment. Dishes, cups, utensils, containers to store leftover food, bags to haul our groceries home, etcetera. More and more of these materials are being produced for single use. To-go cups. Fast food packaging. “Disposable” serving utensils and shopping bags.
But there’s no such thing as “disposable.” Diverting garbage to the dumps so we don’t see it doesn’t make it disappear. We can’t sweep our waste under the rugs forever. We’re running out of rugs. All we can do now is reduce our waste in any way we can, and there are many ways we can, all of which would make for awesome gifts. This year, your holiday shopping list should look something like this:
As a barista, the coffee shop I work at doles out hundreds of paper cups each day to customers taking their coffee to-go. And even if the cups are compostable, realistically, only a fraction of them will be composted. The majority will likely wind up in the garbage, and a fair amount are fated to be litter. And that’s just one coffee shop. Multiply that by all the coffee shops combined and all the days that they’ve been open. That’s a lot of coffee cups.
An individual who drinks at least one cup of coffee every day contributes at least 365 paper cups every year. Reduce this number to one by investing in a cup that’s built for infinite refills, one cup to do the work of hundreds. Behold, the mighty travel mug.
And like your loved ones, and unlike plain white paper cups (or even worse, the dreaded #RedStarbucksCups), travel mugs come in all varieties of color, shape and size. Handle. No handle. Any material. Ceramic, for the folks who forget about their coffee until it’s cold and need to nuke it. Metal or plastic for gravitationally challenged folks who have yet to fully grasp the art of holding onto things.
Color, design and prints are also solid opportunities to espress what makes that person special—their interests or favorite animals. Note: whatever words or images are printed on your loved one’s travel mug will be their constant companion, staring back at them every morning from across their desk, or warming their hands while they step outside for a coffee break, or whatever their morning ritual may be. So keep in mind, whatever message is embedded in the graphic of their travel mug better be something they’d like to look at.
And whatever you do, don’t get a travel mug from Starbucks.
Last year, I asked for travel mugs for Christmas, and my Mama faithfully delivered. She’s a huge supporter of artists on Etsy, so I picked out a few. Here they are in action:
The reusable coffee sleeve goes hand in hand with your loved one’s new travel mug. However, if travel mugs are out of your price range, reusable coffee sleeves serve as a more affordable alternative. If a paper to-go cup must be used, at the very least, saving a sleeve every day makes a difference. Also, another opportunity to a) support an artist by buying one, or b) get crafty and sew your own.
LOOSE LEAF TEA INFUSER
Travel mugs and sleeves are not exclusively for coffee lovers. Tea drinkers are just as guilty of contributing wasted to-go cups as coffee fiends, but even worse, most tea bags are individually wrapped in what is ultimately garbage (non-recyclable wrapping). So take an extra step to convert your loved one to loose leaf tea.
Some tumblers are sold with built-in loose leaf tea infusers. Infusers are also sold individually, that are compatible with any cup. Each cup of loose leaf tea equates to one less wrapper, one less piece of trash.
LOOSE LEAF TEA
If you should decide to buy a loose leaf tea infuser for a loved one, you should consider pairing it with some loose leaf tea. Give them something yummy to steep in their new tea infuser.
Maybe your loved ones won’t use your gifts. Or maybe they will. But in any case, you’re leaving the door ajar for someone to become a more sustainable, waste-conscious eating-shitting machine. Happy Fat Saturday, and Happy Holidays. Purchase responsibly.
“The Holidays” are closing in on us. Whatever religion you practice, whichever god you worship, or don’t—regardless, chances are some gifts will be exchanged in your near future. Each year is punctuated by the same consumer spike, the ever-dreaded holiday shopping frenzy. The shopping is done, no doubt, in the selfless, giving spirit of people just trying to espress their appreciation for their loved ones by means of some material reward.
Care to make it interesting?
This year, I propose a challenge. In fact, I propose a few. Pick one and actually do it. I dare you. Twenty points to the house anybody who accepts my challenge(s). Twenty points!
NOT BUYIN’ IT
You may not spend any money on anything that you present to anyone this holiday season. This means you cannot purchase any gifts. Nor can you steal them; that would be cheating. You must hand-make every gift out of materials you either find or already own. Get crafty. If you don’t know how to get crafty, get drunk. See what happens. If you don’t have the resources to construct something practical, when in doubt, make modern art. Anything goes with modern art.
If you choose to accept this challenge, be prepared to set aside some time. Home-making things is tedious. Also, be prepared to present relatively shitty gifts. You’ll be forgiven, but your gifts might be a bit embarrassing. On the plus side, you won’t have to worry about your budget.
Every gift you buy this season must be secondhand. You may buy anything you like, as long as it’s been bought by someone else before, used and/or forgotten about until it was no longer needed, donated, and then bought again, by you. This means nothing new had to be manufactured to satisfy your shopping list. Buying secondhand is more sustainable because it reduces our need to produce new stuff where old stuff can still suffice. Plus, previous ownership and disownership adds intrigue and character.
NOT TRENDING THIS SEASON
Every gift you give this season must be totally unique. Custom. Original. One of a kind. As uncommon as the individual receiving it. More and more of this world is mass-produced. Don’t risk buying someone the same thing somebody else already bought them (or worse yet, discovering that somebody-else scored a better deal). Eliminate this hazard altogether by purchasing something there is only one of. Something handmade, perhaps, not necessarily by you. Hint: this is a solid opportunity to support some of your local artists.