After spending a good deal of time exploring the meaning of sustainability (through HECUA), I wanted to test out my sea legs with a sustainable project. Being the season of excessive spending and consumerism, I decided to truly challenge myself. Starting on Black Friday and ending December 25th I resisted purchasing any new items.
I had to set parameters and keep a log of everything including it's cost, where I found it and any challenges that arose.
The parameters were as follows:
1. Food is excluded from this project.
2. I could only buy second hand, reused or hand made goods.
3. Be mindful of
1.My dad really likes Steely Dan, of course, I hate them; it's a long standing joke we have. I found a Steely Dan record at Hymie's Vintage Records as well as two albums in the "difficult listening" section. I glued them together and turned it into a wall hanging titled it difficult listening. This gift cost $15.62.
2. I wanted to get my parents some sort of ornaments because this year they decorated the tree without me. At an antique shop in St. Paul.I found two second hand ornaments, one made of recycled material. Double points! This gift cost $3.00.
3. My mom has been semi-joking for years that she will one day live on a reservation. In early November, Kent Nerbern visited my class to talk about his time spent on a reservation and to promote his book Neither Wolf Nor Dog. I bought a copy for myself because it's something I feel I should be exposed to. However, I realized that it would be the perfect gift for my mom (especially because it's personally autographed). This gift cost $10. (She loved it by the way).
4. Lena. Lena is one of my best friends. Her birthday (December 21) is quite close to christmas and unfortunately, I did not get her two sets of gifts. At the retro store on University I came across a box full of random plastic charms. I picked some out and created a story about our friendship with them. This can be considered a gag gift because the story is really corny and the charm bracelet is hideous. I discovered some thread at the antique store in St. Paul and used that to create the bracelet itself. I also found a necklace that followed the same color scheme and considered it more of a real gift. The thread was 1.00 ea. (x2). The charms were 3 for 1.00 (x3) and the necklace was 3.50.
-The gift box I used.
5. Ana my roommate also had a Christmas birthday (December 26). If she were to write the song "My Favorite Things", it would be something concerning History and books. I found her a romance novel from Cummings Books in Dinkytown for $6.50. She also noted one day that our living room needed some more throw pillows. I found a few lying on the couch at the retro store on University. I wrapped them in a t-shit I had. The pillows cost a total of $11.00.
6. Erin my roommate
In St. Paul I found a strange ceramic glass which is perfect because she collects odd glasses. This cost $1.50. I'm also going to get her a bag of ground peace coffee because she has taken to depending on coffee and has to ground it every night before bed. Peace coffee is a local organization that provides shade grown, fair trade coffee. It's delivered by BIKE in all weather, and it's delicious- I like it and I don't even drink coffee.
*This wasn't purchased until after December 25th. However, I did grapple with the idea of used and local. In the end, I stuck to used and hand made.
-I get more satisfaction out of creating a gift than buying something they circled in a magazine. They don't expect it and to me ,its shows the true value of their presence in your life.
7. There will be a new babay in the family this March so, I asked one of my amazing classmates to knit a little hat for the newcomer. This gift was free for me but the yarn and needles obviously cost money.
Total cost of expenses this Holiday Season: $60.00.
-It was exciting to see how my actions influenced others. Just by taking on this project, three people, in return, gave me gifts that were not new!
-One of the things I noticed is that it helped me reflect deeply on my relationships with the people I love. I had to identify characteristics or memories that defined a relationship and turn it into an object-challenging but fun.
-It's not about luck, it's about rediscovery. I don't have a better chance of getting good presents because I have more antique shops near me or cloth laying around my house. I had to really think about what resources I had and how I could use them differently than I was used to.
I recommend everyone try this; it's not as hard as it seems.