Monday, April 20, 2009

paper or plastic?

Earth Day is is right around the corner and I know there are millions of earth-lings out there just sitting around wondering "What can I do to help save this planet?". While I'm not certain that what I am about  to suggest will single-handedly halt the destruction of our home turf, I think it is a small step in the right direction. Alright, here it is... (I know you're gonna love it)... B.Y.O.B. Yes, that's right. Where ever you go, just B.Y.O.B.! To the thrift shop. To the library. To the grocery store. It'll be fun! It will make you feel sooo GOOD! And everyone will think you are just SO cool, and they'll want to B.Y.O.B. too!
What is that you say? How can public drunkenness help save the Earth? My, my, Silly Rabbit. Is that what you thought I was suggesting? Well, put down the bottle of Cuervo and listen up:
What I am proposing is that you Bring Your Own Bag!
Where ever you go where you might be offered a shiny new bag to carry home your latest finds, respond (righteously), "No thank you, I brought my own!" And it doesn't have to be some fancy-shmancy, logo-laden, hemp one either (which was probably imported from China anyway).

Here are some suggestions:
  • used onion bags (the mesh ones) are wicked strong and you can easily add handles to them- just weave or tie some fabric, rope, whatever, through the mesh.
  • pillow cases- if you are the least bit crafty you can turn one into a neat tote by cutting off the upper 1/3 (open end), cut in two, fold length-wise to form two handles and sew onto the remaining 2/3 of case. Embellish with paint, stamping, pockets.
  • recycled grain/flour bags- Especially a nice sturdy paper bag. Like this one. 100% handmade by me in my tiny one-woman-studio in the Maine woods.
  • or if you're pressed for time and sewing skills, just grab a handful of the THOUSANDS that your mother has accumulated over the past, oh, I don't know... two weeks! (Mum, are you listening???) Stash them in your car and you can B.Y.O.B where ever you go!
Yeah, but will this small act really help? You bet! Reusing a bag meant for just one use has a BIG impact:
  • a reused paper or plastic bag needs only be used 11 times to have a (drastically) lower impact than 11 new bags (kinda obvious, huh?)
  • when 1 ton of paper or plastic bags are reused, more than 27 cubic feet of landfill space is saved (less obvious)
  • in Downeast Maine alone, one less grocery bag per person would reduce waste by.. well, a WHOLE BUNCH! (friggin' awesome...)
And finally, in answer to the age old query "Paper or Plastic?" Consider this...
Paper is easier to recycle, accepted at most recycling centers and just better looking than plastic!
But really, the fact is: The difference between paper and plastic recycling is tiny compared with reusing those same bags.

So Happy Earth Day! And please reuse responsibly.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Armed with a well rounded list of 'music must haves', I recently set out on a music seeking mission to one of my favorite used record and CD shops, Bull Moose Records in Bangor, Maine. As I had a limited amount of time to spend perusing their extensive offerings, I had to keep my focus and referred to my (alphabetical) list often: Toni Childs- check! Bill Chinnock- check! The Decemberists- check! Grace Jones. Grace Jones? Yup. Whilst on my way to the checkout, I got snagged in the J's... and what a find! I remember listening to Grace Jones' ten-track compilation Island Life (on cassette!) at full volume, over and over until the tape finally, and unfortunately (or fortunately for you if you happened to live in the apartment next to mine) wore out. That was in 1985, and I can tell you that Grace Jones sounds as good today as she did back then (better in fact, since I scored it on a pre-owned CD for only $2.97!) . From the innuendo and double entendre laden "Pull Up to the Bumper", to her bossa nova infused rendition of "La Vie En Rose", Jones' music is at once classic (and classy) disco, and remarkably edgy and fresh, urban-pop. And I hear that Ms. Jones released a new record, Hurricane, late last year. It will probably be a while 'til that one shows up in the 'pre-owned' pile. But in the mean time, and in honor of "Record Store Day" on April 18th, I'm planning my next music seeking mission- let's see... where did I leave off... Emmylou, Feist, Gomez...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Behold- the humble #10 tin can. Strong, stable, well proportioned. Everything you could ask for in a man- err, can.
And I find myself inexplicably drawn to them- kind of like a crow to a shiny piece of aluminum foil.
If fact, I have been finding new and unusual uses for them just so I can keep them hanging around without them just, hanging around. Such as... kitchen utensil holder, plant pot (obvious choices), dog dish stand (you know, to keep them at the dog-gonomically correct height), and my yet to be attempted newest crafty idea (although admittedly not novel)- pendant light fixture shades. That'll keep 'em hanging around a while!
In the mean time...
Artists who are upcycling tin cans and such in some really fabulous ways can be found on Etsy. One of my favorites is Christine Terrell of adaptive reUse. Check out her fresh as spring, Polka Round Charms bracelet. Another artist making fun and funky pieces is Vicki Wolf of wearwolfs. Her pins and brooches are just too cool- check out this one.

Monday, April 6, 2009

the responsibility of stuff

January 1st has always been my day to purge my overflowing file cabinet of all outdated and totally unnecessary paperwork, receipts, and clippings. However, it is now the second week in April and I am still at it! The file cabinet project was finished about the same time the leftover New Year's Eve champagne was, and resulted in a very large bag of paper and a really giggly trip to the recycling center. But I have since shifted my focus to, well, my entire home and studio! Not as overwhelming as it seems considering I live and work in a 1200 s.f. structure, and have never been much of a pack rat. What I do seem to be is more like a squirrel.
Boxes, within boxes of neatly wrapped and packed, no squirreled away... stuff! Little stuff, mind you. Not big stuff- which might have made it a little easier to deal with. Someone might have wanted a working toaster, lamp, foot massage machine. But does anyone really want to take on the responsibility of my sea glass collection? Mismatched and chipped tea cups? Mardi Gras beads? The word responsibility might seem a little weighty to use in this situation- but that's what it is. Big or small, if you choose to bring something (new juice glasses, wide-screen TV, a collection of vintage match books...) into your home, you are taking on the task of storing, caring, cleaning, and ultimately disposing of all this stuff. Responsibly.
Which is why I now have a nice big box of 'collectibles" destined for the local thrift shop, a finely curated assortment of trinkets for future crafty projects, and a big jar of colored glass which will go with me on my next trip to the ocean.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

sum of its parts

Where does your mind go when someone starts spewing statistics? If it's anything like mine, it goes numb. Although, not so when viewing photographic artist, Chris Jordan's vast, emblematic images.
In his 2005 series, Intolerable Beauty: Portraits of American Mass Consumption, the impact of our collective consumption (seas of discarded cell phones, crushed automobiles) is breathtakingly documented, and shockingly comprehensible.
Jordan's newest collection of mind expanding images- Running the Numbers - seeks to make real, and humanize, the seemingly faceless sums and totals that we'd otherwise never see.
Prepare to have your perception altered.