Pressured to knock off your Christmas shopping? Need a uniquely sustainable gift? Online marketplaces Etsy and Dawanda let you browse quirky, handmade items without burning any petrol, and offer a decent alternative to glitzy energy-guzzling “lifestyle centers.”
It’s a brilliant way to shop the world’s smallest businesses, often providing greener, more interesting selections at very competitive pricing.
Snowbound in Amman, Jordan, where impassable roads and power outages have officially “closed” the city for a second business day, I discovered ten affordable finds in 20 minutes of browsing:
1. Dictionary Print ($8)
Hamilton House Prints creates clever designs on pages from vintage dictionaries, rescued before they reach landfills. I’m loving the 8″ x 10″ print (shown above) entitled “Bacon”, but it’s not the best pick for my vegan, kosher or Muslim friends. Luckily they have loads more options on offer.
2. Felted Baby Shoes (22 euro)
Sunday Creations hand knits tiny slippers from unspun Icelandic wool, felts them into soft shoes for little feet, then adds embroidered embellishments. The shoes arrive in a small gift box with a card explaining their origin and washing instructions. If only they came in grown-up sizes!
Artist Regina Lustig pays homage to her granny’s crocodile handbags in a version crafted entirely of upcycled milk and juice cartons. Her 34-page instructions are loaded with photos to help you create fabulous bags without sewing a single stitch. The pattern booklet is emailed to you within 24 hours so, depending on how fast you drink, you could have a bag finished this week!
Handiwork1 braids cotton tee-shirts then securely sews the coils into basket shapes and rugs. Baskets (4.5″ high x 12.5″ long x 4.5″ deep) start as low as $12, with vibrantly colored braided rugs starting around $30.
This stunningly simple pendant is handcrafted from a slice of Skyy Vodka bottle glass; its trademark cobalt blue has been given a sea glass finish and hangs from a 18-20 inch natural leather cord. Maker reVetro jewelry is always handcrafted from reclaimed glass and recycled materials; see their Tanqueray green. Glass size, shape and hue will vary due to the nature of our products, your purchase is one of a kind.
6. Armbands made from jeans – (14.50 euro)
OHHO TEXTIL sews old denim jeans into colorful bracelets, unisex styling that wraps three times around your wrist. Single strand versions cost 8.50 euro; all feature colorful top stitching and a magnetic clasp closure.
7. Upcycled Elephant Calf ($33)
Dentdelion turns gently used sweaters and felted woolens into imaginative, earth-friendly toys. Don’t be sad if this adorable elephant is sold! She will make new items to order, just scan through the images under her “sold” tab to see the full range of options.
Living in a rental with limited decorating options? Want to avoid pricey wallpaper or vinyl decals? Then give reusable wall stencils a shot. Easier and faster than you think, stenciling is also for floors, ceilings, furniture, and fabrics! J. Boutique makes customizable stencils too. Personalized stencils could be the greatest gift ever.
9. Kinies Gathered Waist Purse (32 euro)
The “waist purse” is a stylish upgrade on your mother’s fanny-pack, made from cotton canvas and fully lined in easy-care black microfiber. A 6-inch zipper is concealed beneath the gathered ruffle for stowing your smartphone and smaller gadgets; a separate compartment is for your keys, passport, and cosmetics. The adjustable strap gives quite a bit of variation in length.
10. Chocolat Negro Recycling ($22)
This South African designer, artist and photographer works in recycled design incorporating traditional African craftsmanship techniques. Check out the cool earrings, necklaces and wrist cuffs made of old buttons. Ridiculously affordable for wearable art.
See what 20 minutes of your own online browsing will turn up!
All images are from the vendors’ Etsy and Dawanda shops.