Monday, September 14, 2009

What is a Handmade Lifestyle?

While the meaning of living a handmade lifestyle can vary wildly from person to person there are generally a few tenets held in common. One is that effort should be applied to reduce the impact we as a modern society make on our environment. Reducing consumption of mass produced goods is a viable way of doing this. Mass produced goods consume vast amounts of resources that their handmade counterparts do not. Handmade items, especially those utilizing materials that are grown or made by hand, create less of an impact on our environment. Mentally compare the carbon footprint of a pair of store bought mass produced mittens against a pair of hand made ones. The commercial mittens are made from industrial grade yarns, produced and dyed with artificial chemicals. The mittens are knitted on machines, each pair exactly the same as the next. They are packaged and shipped out around the world, consuming fossil fuels and creating pollution. The handmade mittens are made out of locally produced wool, handspun and handpainted by independent artisans. The mittens are knitted by hand and each pair will have subtle differences and variations, as this is the nature of hand knitting. Each pair will be a unique creation. These mittens are mailed in small packages, or distributed by person. The cost of handmade mittens, while at times higher than commercial ones, goes to supporting families and small businesses rather than filling the coffers of large corporations. When you limit consumption of goods that are manufactured half a planet away, often times using labour practices that are bad for people and bad for the planet, you not only strike a tiny blow against major chain retailers and manufacturers but you take back your power and your individuality from the mass marketers that want to dictate to us what we must have.

Another common theme to the handmade lifestyle is the desire to support craftspeople and artisans, who make their living creating beautiful and utilitarian items. Not that long ago many people shunned handmade things in favour of the mass produced. There is a movement, identified as "Third Wave Feminism" that is seeking to reclaim the homely arts. Knitting, crochet, felting, spinning and weaving are some of the crafts that fell by the wayside when women began to embrace feminism. Those crafts were considered the realm of the dominated woman who hadn't yet been released from her prison of domesticity. In our age, women are flocking to classes and seminars teaching these crafts and providing modern women with an outlet for creativity and talent. Not to mention that there is now a market thirsting for unique, creative handmade goods. What was once considered passe and antiquated is now providing a living for hundreds of thousands of people, mainly women, all around the world. From the Native women reclaiming their hereditary motifs in hand knitting Cowichan sweaters on the west coast to the stay at home mum making diaper covers and reusable sanitary pads to the retired couple making and selling soaps and candles, people are rediscovering the benefits and satisfactions of living a handmade lifestyle.

1 comment:

Jewelry by Tara said...

Great post! I really love the entire handmade movement and knowing where your goods were made. Pollution, abuse of third world labor, and the mass production that leads to low prices = poor quality.

Your post made me remember why I'm so radically against Wal Mart and what is happening in general to all small businesses.

Thanks for posting on my blog too!