Sunday, November 23, 2008

Changing our Christmas

While I haven't heard Elvis croon "I'll hahahave a bluuuue Christmas..." yet this season, I know that the clock is ticking. I watched the big box stores swap their layouts almost as soon as the last trick-or-treater had stepped off the porch. I'm just hoping that more of them will be singing the praises of a "green" Christmas this year.

What, you ask, would that actually mean?

Well here's my wish list:
1. Don't Buy at All (i.e. Make)
2. Buy Green
3. Buy Fair Trade

First off, let's get the first complaint about green retail out of the way - You can't buy your way out of our environmental situation! This is true, I agree, but, BUT, understand that we as a nation of consumers have been cruising along with little concern for what our purchases actually mean for way too long. People of course can just not buy anything, non-consumption is a very green thing to do. Not an easy thing, but definitely if you take a year off from Christmas you are doing a positive thing for your carbon footprint. Instead of buying something, you can also make your gifts. Give photos you've taken, or if you are crafty, paint some pottery or create something from re-used materials. If you aren't so crafty or strapped for time - donate in your loved one's name at OXFAM or at one of our many needy charities like Metropolitan Ministries.

However, If you are going to buy, then buy green. I encourage us all to consider how powerful a decision we wield this time a year. We get to buy, make, invent, paint, whatever we want for those close to us as an expression of our care for them and as a reflection of our values only once a year. So before we all just take the year off, let's consider that. If I buy my little brother a shirt, he might wear it. If I buy him an organic shirt, he might change how he thinks about organics and buy one for himself. This is how grassroots change works - one little step at a time.

Besides just buying green, there also many wonderful fair trade options for gifts. If I buy my mom a necklace from the mall she will certainly like it (or pretend to for my benefit), but what if I buy one from a fair trade artisan? Then she can know that whether she wears the necklace or not, the money for it went to help those that really need it and they were paid fairly for it!

Ask those that have you on their list to give something handmade this year or to donate a gift in your name to your favorite charity. The holidays are a great chance to show those we love that we can make a difference. Instead of crowding the tree with gadgets that will eventually crowd the landfill, let's push a little wave of hope out into the universe when we gather this year.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Green Gifts

Are you thinking about your Christmas list yet? If so, think about giving green, sustainable and/or fair trade this year. There is a new study about the ice caps melting at an alarming rate, and in these economic conditions we need to think a little more before we buy. Please see the comment below from the scientists at NOAA:
The Arctic ice cap is melting faster than scientists had expected and will shrink 40 percent by 2050 in most regions, with grim consequences for polar bears, walruses and other marine animals, according to government researchers.

There is something that you and I can do--give the gifts that give back. Green gifts are out there and green no longer means expensive. We have quite a few green gifts that are not only affordable, but attractive and stylish.

One of my favorite things we have is Aster and Sage--a company that is making personal accessories made from recycled plastic bottles--really! They make purses, pillows, small ipod/camera bags and much more!

New ornaments are always appropriate for the host/hostess of the local holiday party. Make sure that they are green and/or fair trade. These ornaments are beautiful hand-
made items sold through Ten Thousand Villages. From carved birds to newspaper angels (repurposed newsprint) you can find your perfect new bauble for the tree!
There are many new green items on the market that you can feel good about giving this year. Also stop by Tampa Street Market to see more green gift ideas and shop local!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Shopping Local

Charles and I have lived in OSH for almost 4 years! We have lived in many different places through the years, including overseas, and some of those places were more beautiful, more pedestrian friendly, and I could go on, but no other place has afforded us the friendships we have made in Seminole Heights! The people in OSH are nice, welcoming and down right friendly. It is almost like stepping back in time, a kinder gentler place, where warm baked pies are delivered to your door. Although no pies have found their way to my door, many cupcakes and bottles of wine have crossed the threshold!
OK--enough of the mushy stuff!
Getting to the point, I live in Seminole Heights and I own a business here. I love the neighborhood and do everything I can to support it. I try and shop in the neighborhood. Buying local is a green ideal that I love supporting. I like the idea of knowing the owner and being recognized when I come in . On the other side of the counter, I like seeing my neighbors and friends walk into my shop. It is a CHEERS kind of place where everyone should know your name. I know Karen and Keith at Karen's Place, Adrian and Emily at Seminole Heights Antiques, All the girls at Nickos Diner, Elizabeth at Bungalow Bistro and Forever Beautiful, Scooter at Cappy's and all the wait and cook staff, Chris at Sign Art Group, Eric from Eric Krause Designs, Sherry and Robert at Sherry's Yesterdaze, Anthony at Vivant House...and I could go on!!
Unfortunately, Steff @ Tampa Antiquarian Books is leaving SH--we will miss her! Also Mike from Merino's has closed his doors and Barbara from Silver Linings is saying goodbye and closing her doors. I will miss going to all of these places and the drive home will look a little different with vacant buildings as scenery. The better our businesses do, the better our market. Keeping local businesses afloat keeps your local market from depreciating even more.
I would love to see all of you more, but I am asking everyone to think about the businesses in the neighborhood next time you go out. Lets keep our local economy healthy and green!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Our New Space

Exposed brick wall, high ceilings, concrete floors--this place really fits us.
As you can see in the picture, we still carry steel top tables and wood and steel benches, but we also added new lines of eco-friendly and sustainable gifts and home decor. We have pillows and personal accessories made from recycled water bottles, stainless steel cold beverage bottles, garden art made from steel and repurposed items, elephant dung paper products, eco-greeting cards and holiday cards and graphic bags that fit in your pocket for ease of use! Our telephone wire baskets are going like crazy and are all fair trade!
We have had a lot of our customers come back and it is really great to see everyone. We love having the business back in Seminole Heights and we look forward to growing our business here!