Stuff, Stuff, and More Stuff

Our guest blogger today is Forrest Espinoza, founder and CEO of Artterro. Artterro Eco Art Kits are fun, open-ended art projects that make it easy for kids and adults to unplug and get creative with gorgeous, artist-quality materials.  The kits are assembled at Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin by people with special needs.   

Every year when the holidays roll around I start to think about the all the Stuff. I start to feel a little sad, and I’m reminded of the movie The Story of Stuff.  If you haven’t watched it, it’s about how our stuff is made out of raw materials from the earth and how most of it ends up in a landfill only six months after it’s made.  Just when I’m resolving not to contribute to this huge problem, one of my young sons runs up to me with a list in his hands and a big smile on his face and says, “Here Mom, this is what I want for my birthday and Christmas.”  Both my sons have birthdays the week before Christmas, so that means we tend to get twice the amount of Stuff this time of year.  At that point, I snap out of my anti-Stuff mindset and tell myself that I need to start thinking about it in a different way.  We don’t have to buy disposable Stuff.  We can buy truly meaningful, even life-changing gifts for the people we love, plus we can make some special gifts by hand.

One of my favorite ways to make a difference with my dollar is to buy Fair Trade, which means an artisan has been paid a fair wage for their work.  It feels like buying a gift for three people: the recipient who gets to enjoy it, the artisan who is strengthening her community and family, and yourself, because it just feels good to give Fair Trade!

I’m also partial to giving a gift that offers a hands-on experience, like art materials or my own Artterro Eco Art Kits.  When you give a child the gift of art, you offer them a chance to unplug and tap into their creativity.

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Finally, we can also make very special gifts ourselves.  It doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive.  Try finding a project idea online that you can complete with new and used materials.  It’s a great way to upcycle supplies you may have lying around your house, and you end up with a totally unique finished product.

For many years now I have been doing all three of these things.  I feel so good knowing that I gave my money to good companies, I’m giving my kids gifts that are educational, and I’m giving things I already own a new life and home.  It helps me feel better about all this Stuff not ending up in a landfill in six months.  Okay, I’m off to make some handmade gifts—wish me luck that I will get them done on time!