Monday, September 21, 2009

Having an Eco-Conscious Halloween Costume

Halloween is coming up and I am already panicking. I came to the conclusion that my 8 year-old, 5'3" sister would probably have some difficulty finding an age-appropriate costume. While we were at the store I was horrified when she handed me a military mini-skirt costume with words "Major Flirt" as its nametag. She had no idea what the words meant.

I was happy that she didn't, not for a few years at least.

There is a huge satisfaction in constructing your own costume. You are given creative freedom and can, with a little bit of thinking, be just about anyone or anything. For my little sister, she came into the store hoping to find a leopard costume. Unfortunately none of the stores carried anything akin to a catsuit, and she left the store a little downhearted. The furthest we found was an "instant leopard" set, of a tail, ears, and mask.

I reassured her that I could, yes I could, sew a costume together for her. Since she is within my own dress range this year, I figured that we could spend a few afternoons together working to make her a leopard suit using my sewing patterns. Yet, we are missing one crucial part, where can we find leopard print fabric?

After a bit of thinking, we've decided that we should take a trip to the thrift store. Thrift store, not crafts store, because animal prints are bound to be somewhere in that treasure trove, and it's more eco-friendly as well. Bedsheets are the thrifty way out of buying yards of fabric. I have made last years' costume out of a red and white polka dot sheet (I was Minnie Mouse).

And of course, you can find used costumes at the thrift store, making it even easier to go about your Halloween shopping. You don't have to be a sewing pro to pull together a costume, either. A friend came in with a peacock blue corset with a shiny yellow skirt and a peacock fan pinned to her tailbone. Another friend came in with a white shirt and black pants, which we spruced up by pinning brown felt patches on top of them, gave him a brown moneybag, applied eyeliner for a rugged beard, and gave him an empty bottle of Captain Morgan. Instant pirate!

On the green side, you are doing the world a lot more good by recycling old thrift store clothes and giving it new life, even if it is for a brief night. When you're done with it, simply give it back or swap costumes with a friend who wears a similar size.

The thrill of Halloween is about making a costume from the heart. With the mass production of costumes, it's much like risking going to prom only to bump into some girl with the same dress. Sometimes it's better to go custom because you want to show the world what it is about you that makes you interesting. For my little sister, going to school as a leopard speaks volumes about her love of cats (she has 11 of them) and her fascination for wild animals.

Of course, there is the pride in saying that you constructed the outfit together, as well.

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Shopping at the Farmer's Market

While it seems that the Western world has invested in building mega markets, such as Costco, Sam's Club, and other one-stop-shopping experiences, the rest of the world has its deep roots in open-air markets. So what are the differences and what's the advantages and disadvantages of each? While we are born and raised in a megastore-centric economy, there are a lot of perks to shopping at your local farmer's stand. These perks include:

1. Fresher produce. That's right. These farmers probably picked those fruits and vegetables early that morning. In grocery store chains, produce is picked while it is still raw so that it could ripen through the transportation process. This could leave your apples and oranges from fully obtaining the nutrients it needs.

2. Less gas emissions. These farmers sell their produce locally. Local is good, because it means less transportation and that means less toxic fumes in our environment.

3. Supporting community. Supporting your local farmers by buying their produce grows community health. Also, you are doing them a lot more good by buying direct.

4. Shaving off with savings. You're not paying for the middle man to get you that delicious tomato. You're buying straight from the source, which helps take off the unnecessary fees.

If you need assistance locating your nearest farmer's market, look no further than to ask around, or simply web-search it. Several online directories offer advice and farmer's markets are often held weekly at convenient hours for the average American consumer. If you cannot make it or find it too tedious to attend, your local swapmeet is also bound to sell a few nuts and produce to help you get through your week!

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Friday, September 04, 2009

Living in the Wild Challenge!

Some of you may think, why should we escape the comforts of our homes to suffer in the cold or heat? Throughout the centuries the human race has fought against nature and tamed her, creating our own habitats out of stone and harvested energy. What we fail to realize that is in most other parts of the world, nature still rules.

Americans and most of the western world has an extremely unfriendly approach to life in regards to our environment. The farming lifestyle is seen as crude and primitive, as well as adopting greener habits such as buying clothes second-hand. Our culture really does not have much room to be completely green, and in being so we are left to depend on power stations and electronics.

But you don't have to go all out Survivor to be green! Consider spending a weekend day with your family without using electricity. Instead of watching TV after dinner, consider playing a board game with your children and cooking over fire instead of a microwaved dish. Hang-dry your clothes and wash delicate clothing in the tub. If you're even more adventurous, try taking a shower using the least amount of hot water tolerable. You can also bask in the warm sun for most of the day or take a trip out to the pool or beach. None of those activities require electricity.

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