19 December 2006

Buy now, save (the earth) later

After two long days of shopping this weekend, I am just about finished buying Christmas presents. The same thing happens every year: I tell myself that this year things will be simpler, then I see one more thing that would be just perfect to go along with the other perfect gifts I've already bought, and simple goes right out the window.

My cube-mate and I have been talking lately about the new environmentalism, the one that implies -- if not explicitly comes right out and says -- you can consume your way to a greener future.

Buy bamboo cutting boards instead of plastic ones. Solar-powered backpacks, to keep all your electronic gadgets running. Organic cotton t-shirts, fair-trade coffee, organic and fair-trade iPod cozies. What happened to the reduce part of reduce, reuse, recycle?

I suppose if you're going to buy stuff at all, you might as well buy some of these things. I bought my sister-in-law not one, but two bamboo cutting boards, in fact. Other people are buying them, too. The most crowded store I was in this weekend wasn't Bloomingdales or The Apple Store, but Cog & Pearl, a Park Slope boutique that sells artisan jewelry, housewares and clothing, much of it made from recycled materials. There were so many people that I stayed only long enough to note, not for the first time, that scarfs made from old cashmere sweaters are not only very nice, but very expensive, and I should really make something out of the pile of out-of-fashion sweaters I will never wear again.

Now there's an idea... guess what you're all getting for Christmas next year. How's that for simple?

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