FREMONT'S GREEN GIFT OPTIONS
by Kirby Lindsay
In gifts this year, quality trumps quantity and smart shopping – mindful, conscientious spending – becomes more important than ever. For unique gifts, that leave recipients going “Ooh!” and “Wow!”, locally-based retailers of Fremont offer everything a shopper needs. As we all start to examine the impact our purchases have on the environment, and our ever shrinking world, Fremont shops still have some great answers.
Sustainable and Creative
Bitters Co. (at 513 North 36th St) offers a wide selection for discerning shoppers seeking creative, sustainable gifts – that they’ve purchased directly from the artisans. This shop, owned by sisters Katie and Amy Carson, carries floor mats made of scrap from flip-flop sandal manufacturers, honey from Ballard, and bags created from banana palm fiber. The store also sells furniture made, by Amy Carson, from reclaimed wood.
Sales clerk Lisa Dutton showed me a dozen products made from cork, a sustainable product from Portugal and purchased directly from the families who grow it. These products vary from the conventional – mats, bowls, coasters, vases – to cork items I’d never considered – wallets, mouse-shaped coin purses and an umbrella.
“The only thing with a smaller carbon footprint than recycled is reused,” said Lisa Perry, owner of Ophelia’s Books. Her shop (located at 3504 Fremont Avenue North) along with her neighbor, Jive Time Records, offers economical options as well as a green one. Used books, and records, even rare, long-sought treasures, can cost less than a Kindle or Ipod.
“I’m lucky,” Perry explained, “because I’m very picky about the condition of the books I buy.” Her books can be given without shame about their source. “They might not have that new book smell,” she said, “but as long as [the recipients] are willing to crack open a book, we can find something for them.”
‘Green’ As In Green
Consider green gifts that are, actually, green. Indoor Sun Shoppe (at 160 North Canal Street) offers sustainable gifts – pots made of bamboo and organic fertilizers to feed plants within them. They also furnish supplies, including heat mats and seedling starts, to grow indoor vegetables. Paul Beeman, a sales clerk at the Shoppe, doubts the environmental benefits of growing indoor veggies since the high light they require “can be expensive” in cost and energy consumption. They do, however, sell some plants that feed themselves.
Carnivorous plants provide the same benefits as other green growing things, plus pest control. Beeman explained that they don’t require fertilizer (as they draw nutrients from insects.) They do need to be repotted about every 2 to 3 years, must be kept moist and require high light, which can be difficult in Seattle homes. Owners can use terrariums, or, as they have in Fremont, the Shoppe grows some on their outdoor patio
Green For What Isn’t
Yet, green can be about what isn’t included. One windsock supplier, SoundWinds of Portland, doesn’t believe in packaging, Schmidt admitted. Instead their nylon windsocks arrive in a box in a bright jumble. Schmidt offers purchasers a bag, if they wish, to carry their treasure home.
“When I think about it,” she said, “there are lots of kites where their ‘packaging’ is their carrying case.” Additionally, while more gifts require electrical sockets or batteries, windsocks and kites use entirely sustainable energy sources - wind. Plus, their brilliant colors will brighten dreary winter days, and get recipients outside for the wholesome enjoyment of all.
©2010 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.