I'm taking the handmade pledge. Well, my version of it anyway. In 2011, I will only buy items new if they are handmade (preferably by a small business in the USA, just like my own), and everything else secondhand. There will be times this is impossible - if I need to grab something last minute, not all of the materials I work with are handmade (let's see if we can change that in 2011!), and I realize that, but I will make a conscious effort to do my best.
My reasons would be the belief that recycling is important, American consumption has gotten out of control, and there is no accountability for the manufacturing processes overseas, causing an outrageous toll on our Environment and threatening our health. I won't get on my soapbox today (sort of too late for that), but you might want to consider watching The Story of Stuff, which is short, highly entertaining and informative, and also visiting the Handmade Toy Alliance to see why small business owners are at risk due to the unrealistic standards of the CPSIA and mass manufacturing corporations who have found loop holes and been permitted exemptions to these outrageous testing standards (an independent testing groups recently found toxic toys are STILL on the shelves in Target and Wal-Mart stores despite the CPSIA and it's new legal limits on lead levels.)
The bottom line for me is that I don't trust these faceless corporations anymore. Their bottom line is money. I am responsible for the health and well being of my family, and I believe we have lost touch with what's really important in life - each other. So I'm going to support my community of small business owners, the people of Tacoma in particular. I'm going to cut back on the amount of future landfill crap that comes through my door. I'm going to look for items that we need instead of want, and if I do find something I want, it will have a story, a history, and even a little bit of meaning.
And I'm happy that I'll have more excuses to go to thrift stores and antiques shops!
The other thing I would like to share with you, my dearest reader, is that you should check out Etsy. Etsy is a site dedicated to sellers of handmade items, supplies for crafters and makers of hand made items, and all things vintage. It's full of beautiful pictures, stories and descriptions about the items you're purchasing, and there is something for everybody on the site. There are many many beautiful and well-crafted items. Here are a few shops I've purchased gorgeous items from and that I have received gifts purchased from these shop (thank goodness my husband is an Etsy convert!) in the past:
http://www.etsy.com/shop/beehivekitchenware?ref=seller_info - Heart Measuring Spoons
http://www.etsy.com/shop/ZayneeDesigns - Custom Scarflette (love!)
http://www.etsy.com/shop/yardia - A lovely card sent to a friend
http://www.etsy.com/shop/mamaroots - Custom Give, Save, Spend tags for my girls
I've been hearing a lot of people lately express their fear of using Etsy. They may have been overwhelmed by choice in the past, or have not had luck with finding exactly what they want. I'll share in my next post why you should give it another shot and I'll walk you through doing a successful search, requesting custom items (the best way to get exactly what you want!), and all the wonderful hidden gems Etsy has to offer that you never even knew about!