A crane kite for remembering our feathered friends.
Colorful sneaks for marching in.
Someone special for keeping company.
A little box for taking along some sustenance.
A little pack for keeping everything wrangled.
A cap for keeping the sun off precious faces.
A water bottle for staying hydrated.
Coveralls made to last (and get repaired).
And a handmade sign for spreading the message. (Thanks to Timeseed for helping Faye screen-print this one over the weekend!)
In an effort to ground all of this make-believing in something a bit more down to earth, here’s a very real place to direct our attention:
Climate Strike! Spearheaded by the brilliant and bold children speaking up for our future on this planet, this Friday, September 20, 2019, marks the first action of the Global Climate Strike. NYC school children will have excused absences from school, and I’ll be joining my kids to make our demands for a habitable and healthy planet. You can see what’s happening in your own communities this way.
Climate Week NYC kicks off on September 23 and lasts through September 29. See the full list of events, actions and programming.
This post includes affiliate links. Reading My Tea Leaves might earn a small commission on the goods purchased through those links.
The irony in this post is your encouragement for consumerism, in order to bring attention to climate change. We can’t reverse climate change without rethinking our buying habits. The only “sustainable” shopping cart is an empty one. While I’m in favor of supporting ethically minded companies like the ones you highlight, your voice would bring greater change by not mixing “make-believe” with serious world issues. People listen to you. Use that power wisely.
The potential for irony here isn’t lost on me. But that’s the point! This series is just one of many on this blog and while it certainly highlights a majority of items folks can buy should they choose, the express purpose of it is to recenter focus on the things that really matter. Most importantly, this isn’t the only place I mention these critical issues, but it is a way for me to weave them into every aspect of my work in this place–even work that might not appear related on the surface.
I love these kinds of posts. They help me feel calm and dreamy. The world feels so damned heavy and we could use space to delight.
Another LIKE for Julie’s comment because the heart symbol wouldn’t register my click (worked for other comments but not this one). These posts might be called “Make-Believe” but is anyone really imagining that they’re not primarily about pretty *stuff*?? It seems a bizarre choice to communicate about the climate strikes through the medium of shopping. Of course, there are a few more worthwhile links at the bottom of the post, but it’s plain to see where the time and effort has gone in and where the attention is meant to be drawn. Greta Thunberg mentioned in her recent Democracy Now! interview that she doesn’t buy any new clothes… https://www.democracynow.org/2019/9/11/greta_thunberg_swedish_activist_climate_crisis
Hi there: Not sure why the heart system wasn’t working for you here—-though I did fix a glitch that was allowing people from the same IP address to like multiple times so it could be that. Chiming in to reiterate what I’ve said in other responses which is that the incongruence is the point here, as is the discomfort. Over the past three years I’ve paired collages related with back-to- school imagery to direct action about preventing campus rape; I’ve paired spa imagery with calls for direct action supporting incarcerated mothers, I’ve paired muses with soaking up January sunshine with requests to support bail funds. These aren’t the only places where I write about these issues, but they are one way that I can draw the conversation back to things that matter while capturing the attention of a diverse audience who come to this site seeking a range of stories. Yesterday my entire site was offline for the strike and I marched in solidarity with the thousands of teenagers in this city following Greta’s lead and the lead of so many others. She’s an inspiration and yes, I shared her Democracy Now interview in the space the week in went live. I will continue to do my best to radically shift my own work, my own habits, my own consumption while also advocating for the systems changes we so desperately need. As ever, consumption of any kind—beyond the carbon footprint of our collective internet use in general—is not a requirement for reading for this blog.
Thanks for responding, Erin. I think maybe what I’m experiencing is a disconnection between what you intend and how these posts actually come across. It’s an interesting concept to deliberately juxtapose consumerism with activism to make a point, but I’m not sure the point remains clear – for me it’s especially obscured by a) there only being one image in these posts, which is always of things to buy; b) there being links to purchase all of those things (redirecting people’s shopping urges by making those links go elsewhere might be powerful!); and perhaps most of all c) some of those being affiliate links – that makes it rather plain that there is an intention to encourage (obviously not “require”) some purchases. There’s so much misunderstanding about “ethical consumerism”, with so many people believing that certain purchases are inherently positive (rather than just less negative), and I think posts like this can very readily feed that.
This is a super difficult aspect of my work. Keeping this site afloat and earning a living wage means participation in capitalism. I work hard to mitigate the negative effects of consumerism by only pointing people in the direction of companies doing the least active harm, by positing alternatives to consumerism, by celebrating things entirely unrelated to consumerism, etc, but the financing of this site does most often comes directly from for-profit businesses selling a product. The choice I’m left with is how to use my voice and stay true to my personal values alongside that. When I worked in editorial at other large publications I was being asked to sell products that were in direct conflict with my values and I didn’t have any say in the matter, besides leaving, which is what I did. Of course choice here is tenuous. Capitalism is messy and damaging and of course there’s inherent contradiction in the work that many of us do and how that work is financed. I’m striving to do better and to seek different and less consumerism-focused funding when I can.
Really wishing those coveralls were adult-sized! (Also—thanks for bringing your posts “home” by talking about critical issues!)
Ha! They do!
I like that this thread happened. I think it draws attention to structural issues that undergird the very climate problems we talk about–in short, in order to exist in a capitalist society you effectively have to participate in the structures that it creates–this blog, and your labor, Erin, are supported by advertising and these partner companies. I think people often pick at seemingly incongruous relationships within climate posts-like posting a link to a doll-but truthfully, we all must be able to deal with the reality that it is practically impossible to be 100% perfect in our actions when it comes to climate issues–e-waste is a scourge, but if you’re here, you have access to a computer. Fast fashion is problematic, but at times we might go with companies we don’t love 100% to get jeans that freaking fit. I think we can direct attention to these realities by holding companies, governments, and yes, individuals, accountable–but we must also remember that ultimately, it isn’t seemingly these incongruous individual choices that comprise the responsibility for the majority of climate problems-it is the institutional and societal structures that have come to be, held up by questionable ideologies and power imbalances in Western life. We might instead want to wonder at why writing about climate change and simple living can’t be funded by government grants. Wonder why, as a whole, people are more likely to read Erin’s post if they can click on a product link. Wonder why the US doesn’t support a living minimum wage. Wonder why corporations are given rights of personhood. Etc. etc.
Agreed. It’s a complicated and messy system that we all participate in. The carbon footprint of the servers used to power websites like this one is itself huge cause for pause. I think it makes sense that in the face of such a monumental crisis, and especially because the solutions can feel simultaneously so necessary and so far out of reach, we end up looking for avenues that we might take where we’d emerge as blameless. I’ve certainly fallen into this trap. But while sometimes this impulse propels us to action, it can just as easily steer us toward finger-pointing at the most benign and shirking of responsibility at the worst. I don’t have concrete solutions here and I’m certainly muddling through all of this in very real time. I am grateful for discussion and I remain hopeful that those solutions we desperately need will be found and championed.
It seems odd to include items like a doll, sneakers, clothing, and kite in a post about a climate strike. We should all be reducing our impact, which includes not buying new things as much as possible. I did like your inclusion of the snack container and water bottle as these things, while new, can replace the use of one-time-use items.
I’m certainly not suggesting everyone need to go zero-waste, zero-new, it just felt incongruent to see these things in a post about the climate.
This is make-believe. Kids attending Climate Strike demonstrations might very well bring along things like posters or kites for capturing attention, they’ll almost certainly need snacks and clothing, and some might benefit from a comfort doll. I’m not suggesting anyone need buy any of these things. As always, this is a series designed to illustrate something playful and imaginative while simultaneously championing small, thoughtful companies doing interesting work, and more importantly, non-profits and organizations doing critical work.
Amen, Erin. I love that little doll. I’m not going to stop giving gifts to my neices for birthdays and holidays so I appreciate more sustainable options instead of the plastic crap big box stores offer. And, most people are not going to live like that, either. Let’s all lighten up a little.
We’re in a climate crisis, so I totally understand the sense of urgency and desperation felt by so many. Not trying to suggest that folks concerns aren’t valid here, but hoping to clarify the purpose of these posts.
Erin (and followers), I love these posts! And, I’ve loved your ideas and suggestions for years and years. To the critics, I think we could use some “make believe” in world that feels so damned heavy. sustainable options are important to me especially for kids clothing, kids dolls/toys. how lovely we have a thoughtful presentation and post. I appreciate and trust Erin’s resources as I know they are sustainable and created by companies that align with my values.
Kelly, I appreciate your comments. As I mentioned, I’m not suggesting that everyone needs to go zero-waste or zero-new, so I don’t fully understand how your comment about “most people [not living] like that…let’s all lighten up a little” relates. But maybe I’m misunderstanding your intent with that statement.
I would like to also acknowledge Erin’s thoughtful response about this being a “Make Believe” post, which I missed, as it is helpful for me to better understand the overall context. I do stand by my original thoughts, and expand them to suggesting that for such topics as Climate Change (and others!), there also be links included that show us ways we can “re-use” items we may already have in order to create make-believe things. This blog is full of ways to creatively re-use items, it could even link back to some of those.
Thanks for your note. The choice here is actually to focus on alternate actions that don’t have to do with consumerism or tangible items at all! For the past three years or so, my “make-believe” posts have followed this formula of building a collage filled with compelling imagery and items and then redirecting folks to take action in the form of protest or volunteering or spreading the word about a cause etc! In other places, as you mention, my posts are indeed about making things or re-using what we have, or going without etc. Here, I’m hoping to take a conventional example of lifestyle editorial and turn it on its head a bit by encouraging direct action, activism, and commitment to social justice.
Thank you for the clarification!
I love that you title these posts “Make Believe” because I love seeing what companies you thoughtfully support, while also acknowledging that consumerism is a choice. I appreciate your aesthetic, so the stuff you highlight is often stuff I would admire. But I really appreciate how you ground these posts in reality. We are a striking family as well. My kids and I have been out there in the past and will be out there on Friday, with many of the supplies you post above. Thank you for using your voice to spread the word.
The sign you posted is beautiful. Just curious if you’ve seen other signs that caught your eye?
Thanks so much! Faye was so pleased with her banner when she came home with it yesterday afternoon, but before she did, I was actually working from home sifting through Google images of other kiddo signs. Lots of inspiration out there!
I appreciate how these posts use things that are simple on the surface (beautiful items to look at and dream of) to draw the mind to ideas that are harder, that require an ability to sit with discomfort, that request grappling with what role we will each play in movements toward change. This reflects not only your interests but also a keen sense of how to catch a reader’s attention and elegantly point them in the direction of, “do something.” And at this point in time, it’s troubling that this use of platform is so uncommon. I’m always thankful for how you connect creative matters with deeply complex human ones. People do listen to you. Thank God!
Thanks so much, Sophia!
This comment has nothing to do with your post, but as a long time reader, sometime commenter and infrequent emailer I wanted to congratulate you on your pregnancy. I am not in social media so I couldn’t comment on Instagram. My third turns 2 soon. I now have three in one bedroom and it is an adventure. I hope you feel better soon!
Thanks so much, Christie!
Always love these posts – a nice combination of eye-candy, mindful consumerism and helpful activism.
To the Katies and Julies of the comment section: I personally would love to read and support beautiful blogs that provide helpful guidance for readers to address the issues you raise – please include links with your comments 🙂
Hi Sid, I would love the same! And to clarify, my comments were not about Erin’s blog in general (I looooove her writing! I visit often!), but rather about this specific post. It just struck me as odd to have a post about striking for climate change that included links to new things that are created using processes that make climate change worse. I better understand Erin’s purpose of the ‘Make Believe’ series after she replied to one of my comments. And to clarify, sharing links in this series, and other series, never struck me as odd before. It was just this specific topic that gave me pause as I was reading it. I guess I wouldn’t have been so taken aback if the same photos were included but without the links (and, inevitably, as Erin notes, when someone asks where they can buy the item, a link could be left as a reply to that specific comment). But to circle back, I very much agree with you that it’s a beautiful blog. I don’t think anyone is arguing otherwise!!
i’d love to think my blog falls under this category – hope anyone with similar interests will check it out: https://tps-steph.blogspot.com/
i really love the inclusion of action items – i’ve learned a lot about things i wouldn’t have known of otherwise ( i dont browse the interwebs much so it’s nice to have this trusted source). i also love the items you select as many of them are inspiration for making things (that backpack!). alas, i also feel frustrated, like other commenters, with the propensity for consumerism on many blogs – i realize its how you make money so it’s not fair to attack someone for doing their job. instead i started my own blog – i share ideas for living creatively/sustainably and updates on my “only buying secondhand” experiment here: https://tps-steph.blogspot.com/
above all, i love that you share ways to live mindfully and always with an eye on bigger issues. you try to balance a sustainable lifestyle with the realities of life and that is a hard thing to do! many times when i find myself frustrated by other’s actions i wonder how can i help them but also how can i do better – in the end it benefits all. we need more people thinking of how to consume less, not attacking those who are already trying. i’ve learned lots from you you erin – thanks 🙂
Thanks so much for being such an engaged reader, Steph. I really appreciate your work and perspective. Your frustration with consumerism on blogs is shared by me. And it’s been a difficult thing for me to navigate both as I seek ways to finance this work while staying true to my values, and as I see how much readers are looking for answers to questions about consumerism specifically. My Week in Objects series was started ten years ago as a direct response to the consumerism that I found in the blog community that I had just joined. I wanted to turn the posts I saw about lusting after aspirational material goods into something that felt more true to me: appreciating what I already had. As time has gone on, my Week in Objects remains largely this kind of exercise, but it also has included items that have been given to me by partners or items for which I can use an affiliate link. In short: items that people can buy. And when there are objects that people can buy, readers ask me where to buy them. This complicates things. Anyway: I’m grateful for your kind words here and wanted to be transparent around my efforts at navigating all of this stuff. It’s constantly evolving.
erin, your kind and thoughtful response doesn’t surprise me but i just want to say – thank you! it’s refreshing to know that even though this is your job and business you are kind, inclusive and have values that i haven’t experienced in other internet places.
Speaking of consumerism… My youngest turns 2 in about 3 weeks. She doesn’t need for toys with two older siblings. But I would like to get her something small. I’m thinking of a book and perhaps a new pair of mittens for winter. But I’m wondering if you know of any companies that sell all of those beautiful heirloom toys secondhand (aside from ebay, which is. not the easiest for searching).
Oh, darn it. I was going to suggest eBay because you can search by brand name—Grimms Toys, for instance—and there’s usually a pretty big selection! That’s where we got additional wooden train tracks to match the set we have, for instance!
Ok. I’ll give it a second shot. Thank you for your response. (Maybe one day if I have time, I’ll start an online consignment store for children’s toys… the world could certainly use it!)
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