May 31, 2009


asymmetrical tree
I thought that this post would be about how I am coining a new term: Eco-Minimal. But I just googled it, and it seems to already be an established term, specifically pertaining to architectural design. Ah well. I'm repurposing it for my own life.

I came up with the term "Eco-Minimal" in response to so many of the terms that have sprung up as a result of the Environmental fad, like "Green", "Eco-Friendly", etc. Companies are using these terms loosely, green-washing customers into thinking that they are doing more good for the environment than they actually are. The term Eco-Minimal, for me, refers to the fact that people can probably achieve the greatest reduction in their own impact on the environment by reducing their consumption. For me, this means Reduce first. Then reuse. Recycling as a last option. The goals would be:
  1. Avoiding buying things, at all.
  2. Avoiding buying new - opt for used instead.
  3. Only buying things when needed - avoid frivolous purchases.
  4. Sharing and borrowing.
  5. is my friend.
  6. Reusing and repurposing - either DIY or by purchasing items made from repurposed materials.

When I say that I am trying to make my wedding eco-minimal, I mean that for each decision I make, I ask myself a series of questions.
  • Do I truly NEED this item or wedding component?
  • Is it necessary? (e.g. garter, excessive decorations)
  • What harm is done creating this product for a wedding? (e.g. cut flowers, food)
  • Will it get wasted, and thrown out? Or can it be used again? (e.g. cake, centrepieces, favours)
  • Does it use new materials, or can it be adapted to use materials that would otherwise go in the garbage? (e.g. apparel, decorations, centrepieces, favours)

If it doesn't pass that series of questions, we don't include that in our wedding. For example, we're not having a cake, because it's more likely to be thrown out than a smaller series of various cakes, pies, and other desserts.

When I say I try to live my life eco-minimally, I mean that I try very hard not to buy items unless I truly need them (I'm working on this - as Kyle says, malls are my kryptonite). And I do try to buy used, although I could be better at that. I also try to avoid throwing anything in the garbage that could potentially be used by someone else. This includes broken electronics (someone out there probably knows how to fix it), broken glass (there are many crafty people out there), etc. I try to reduce and reuse before I recycle. The obvious here is avoiding buying items that have excessive packaging (I don't buy individually wrapped treats, for the most part), and repurposing packaging when the product is used up (I have a colourful collection of empty body butter containers I use for jewelery and small items, pasta sauce lids act as tea bag holders).

Green Gift-wrapping Ideas

Any time I receive gifts, I ask people to refrain from using wrapping paper and to reuse or recycle materials instead. This is very important to me, since I think wrapping paper is a terrible waste of trees.
Some creative eco-minimal gift-wrapping ideas are: using part of the gift as the giftwrap (e.g. linens), using newspaper, maps, other fabric (curtains you were going to throw out), clothing, posters, washed and dried chip bags, etc.
Here are some creative ways to decorate gifts using recycled materials. Click any of the pictures to open a new window with instructions.

Four Different Recycled Material Bows - you can use string or a needle and thread instead of metal brads

Origami Flowers - Use colourful magazines or used post-its

Another Recycled Bow - Use magazines or old wrapping paper

Yet Another Recycled Paper Bow - Magazines work best

Bow (Brooch) from Reused Soda Cans - can therefore be disassembled and recycled afterwards!

Some artist's interpretations - the brown paper + magazine cut-outs is really creative!

Lots of paper crafts - use magazines

Flower Garland from magazines - can be downsized to be used as a bow

A collection of ideas on Green gift-wrapping

Some of these ideas are eco-friendly

All sorts of crafts with recycled materials

The picture at the top of this post is of two gifts I wrapped for Christmas 2008. The one on the left uses chip bags for the bow and ribbon that I had received on a previous gift (I keep EVERYTHING). The right one uses "ribbon" cut from brown mail paper from a gift I received in the mail, and magazine strips for the bow.