Bazaar Vendors Create From The Heart, With The Earth In Mind

By Kate Devine

Every day we make ordinary decisions rooted in our individual beliefs, tastes, and intrinsic drives. From deciding what food we eat, how we enjoy free time, to what we pursue for work, everything we do has an aesthetic, ethical and environmental impact. Today marks the beginning of Earth Week, the ideal time to slow down and consider the imprint our lives leave on our environment. We can also take this time to be actively grateful for the earth, our habitat, the most extraordinary aspect of life that we too often take for granted. 

One of the values we hold dear at the Asbury Park Bazaar is environmental sustainability. We offer a marketplace for small business owners and creatives who pour their hearts into art and products made by hand, all while keeping the health of our planet in mind. All of our vendors practice sustainability in their own ways, and take mindful steps to give back to the earth that inspires their work. 

We caught up with Ginamarie of Myriad Mirage, Jessi of Paradox Thrift, Linni of Ruthie Shop, and Fil of From The Garden to find out how their environmental mindset filters into their artistic endeavors. As always, their responses to our questions were thoughtful and fascinating, showing again what incredible makers and awesome individuals make up our community. We also asked for words of advice on what we can do as consumers to protect and cherish this natural home of ours.

If you aren't sure where to start this Earth Week, read what our vendors have to say, then visit Ginamarie, Jessi, Linni, Fil and others at the Asbury Park Spring Bazaar on May 13th & 14th! Shopping the Bazaar is a fun and simple first step to practice sustainability through conscious consuming!

Ginamarie of Myriad Mirage

"Nature makes me feel alive, fascinated, and better connected each and every day."

What does earth-friendly mean to you and your business?

Earth-friendly means being kind to the earth by treating it with respect, appreciation, love, attention & care. Also, being aware of what supplies are used and the method of using them in each creation. It means that I only use materials that either already exist in nature and if the materials are man-made, I chose only materials that are not harmful to living things. Myriad Mirage is all about collecting objects found in nature & preserving them.

What practices do you keep to reduce environmental impact?
Myriad Mirage looks for recycled copper metal to use in metalwork along with choosing lead-free solder, recycled glass, or recycled resins. I also try to create mostly during the day using natural sunlight.

Can you describe how natural materials are used in your jewelry?
Myriad Mirage collects & incorporates objects found in nature like cicada wings, leaves, flower petals, bones, etc. then preserves and forms them into wearable art or jewelry. Copper is a natural element, I use a lot of copper as a base to most of my creations. Copper is healing.

What inspires you about nature?
Nature makes me feel alive, fascinated, and better connected each and every day. The detail in every leaf or snowflake, the interesting life cycles of insects and their growing stages, how plants help us breathe and their chemical compounds that can heal us, the natural aromas and colors in plants, how trees stand so tall and strong, how animals interact and live their lives. Nature inspires me to want to share its beauty and more with others since we sometimes get busy, wrapped up in other matters, and we don’t have the chance to be mindful and appreciative of our natural surroundings.

What simple, everyday changes would you encourage consumers to make in an effort to live a more environmentally conscious life?
Well, being more conscious of how much water they use daily especially with every day routines like brushing your teeth & washing dishes. Trying to use alternative cleaning products that are more natural like Distilled Vinegar & essential oils. Trying to recycle as much as possible (ie: cardboard, plastic bags). Open your windows to bring fresh air into the home or get outside & breathe it in! Take out time to smell the roses, gaze up at the moon & stars, hug a tree or stand tall barefoot on the grass!

Jessi of Paradox Thrift

"It may sound silly, but since it's Earth Day, I am just going to say it:  This whole vendor family sometimes feels like a vision of what the world could be, and our customers should know they are the ones who make that possible."

What does earth-friendly mean to you and your business? 
The "paradox" in our name is precisely about our collective relationship to the Earth.   On one hand, our society is built upon mass production and disposable consumption.  This, we know, is ultimately not sustainable.  On the other hand, the world of vintage offers us possibilities.  So much beauty and uniqueness are present in the pieces of the past, and there are plenty of them to be found!  So I like to think of vintage and thrifting as one answer to this paradox.

I am particularly passionate about collecting vintage jewelry and clothing.  The whole process is a thrill, from treasure-hunting awesome finds to watching our customers bring them back to life.  I also create funky drop necklaces and earrings out of reinvented jewelry pieces, antique watch parts, old brooches, and all sorts of neat materials.  Recycling and upcycling makes a lot of sense in fashion, and it's fun to pass these pieces (and this spirit) onto others. 

My thinking on this "paradox" is inspired by my background in sociology, which I  teach part-time at a local community college.  It is important to me that my business works to promote a better, more sustainable world.  So being earth-friendly is the heart of our vision.

What measures do you take to reduce your environmental impact?
First and foremost, I do whatever I can to keep our jewelry and clothing affordable.  Making vintage accessible is key if we really want to change the typical approach to shopping.  I like to think of it as the quality of vintage at thrift shop prices.  This means our customers don't have to feel guilty for spending too much, and we can keep the inventory flowing.  It hopefully means, too, that we are promoting lifestyle changes and a real appreciation for thrift and vintage.

Besides the inventory itself, we also use recycled paper for business cards and bags.  All of our store displays are upcycled from random household items.  We show off our mid-century cocktail rings in backgammon cases and our necklaces hang upon large antique frames, for example.  We also find all sorts of great tiny vintage boxes on our travels-- made from paper-mache, wood, ceramic, tin, etc.  For a small price, our customers can grab one of these to reduce the need for gift-wrapping their jewelry finds.  

Most of all, we communicate our message.  We try to encourage a spirit of recycling and thrifting beyond shopping with us.  We thank our customers for choosing to shop small and non-corporate, and for supporting the local vendors who are creating amazing products! 

It may sound silly, but since it's Earth Day, I am just going to say it:  This whole vendor family sometimes feels like a vision of what the world could be, and our customers should know they are the ones who make that possible.

What simple, everyday changes would you encourage consumers to make in an effort to live a more environmentally conscious life?
Thrift!  Thrifting is fun, interesting, and the products are not only more economical, but usually better quality too.  Second-hand goods have lasted the test of time and were never made to be disposable.  That just is not the case with the big box stores these days.  As you will probably hear us saying at least once every time we sell, "They don't make it like they used to."  We laugh because we say it so much.  But it's true!

Because I am constantly treasure-hunting, almost everything I buy for myself (besides food!) is thrifted.  Clothing, housewares, decor, office and art supplies, furniture, and yes, jewelry. Living this way gives me a chance to be creative and original everyday. It also is important if we want a better world.  About 99% of what Americans buy gets thrown out within six months.  Think of the water and the fossil fuels wasted in these production, transport, selling, and disposal processes.  Fortunately, as consumers, we can help to slow down that cycle.  

Beyond ourselves, though, we also have to think of the most powerful actors in society -- the corporations, planners, and leaders.  We have to get involved to demand a future based on renewable energy and the protection of  communities and natural resources.  Learn about what's happening in Standing Rock in the Dakotas, and about the pipeline projects right here in New Jersey, and how these local struggles are connected to global warming and the climate crisis.  We can borrow from each other, shop sustainably, and recycle, but we also have to be committed to solving the root of the problems.  So being earth-conscious also means getting informed and involved!  Our future depends on it.

 

Linni of Ruthie Shop

"I certainly can go to a craft store and create everything I make a lot faster, but it doesn't feel as authentic to me." 

What does earth-friendly mean to you and Ruthie?
Earth-friendly for Ruthie means creating one of a kind, unique art that comes (mostly) from nature or natural sources.  

I certainly can go to a craft store and create everything I make a lot faster, but it doesn't feel as authentic to me. I really love and respect nature, so designing items that come from the land is rewarding. The other half of my product, the cotton, fabric and beads are almost all recycled or reused as well. Recently I took an old dress from a client and made it into a wall piece for her living room!  

How does Ruthie reduce environmental impact, and work reciprocally with the earth?
From the start, Ruthie was environmentally conscious. I've always picked materials for my work that were as natural and organic as I could find or gather. I find items from the woods, the beach and even my yard. I don't use any leather or suede, but I'm not technically not a vegan business since I purchase feathers from local hunters. They're mostly pheasant and duck. I buy used or recycled cotton, and use wooden beads from old items I find in vintage shops or thrift stores. I also like to dye my cotton with tea, beet juice, blueberries or old coffee grinds.  It's not just environmentally helpful, it's also unique and one of a kind.  

Can you describe how natural materials are incorporated into your work?
I really enjoy finding sea glass or natural stones for my dream catchers.  Though my father and sister find far more than I do, I still do my best to find the little gems hiding in the sand. They let me have sea glass or geodes if I beg enough. 

Sometimes when I describe how far I go creating certain pieces I get some odd stares. I did an ocean collection where I collected driftwood on the beach, used  ocean water to dye the cotton, and spent hours looking for sea glass to match.

I'm also really lucky that my mother has this old established grape vine that spreads about 50 feet long and 3 feet deep running along the fence of my childhood home. I use those vines for a lot of my dream catchers. It's not about saving money, but using materials that are local and available. There's a lot of  meaning behind art that is locally sourced and created. 

What inspires you about nature?
I grew up in Spring Lake, so beach life is engrained in my DNA. My parents also took me on camping trips, and I started archery as a sport when I was younger, so I spent a lot of time in the woods. Every part of nature inspires my work. Not just the visual aspect of a tree or flower, but the colors, the textures and shapes. I dry flowers when I can (it's hard because Im not a delicate artist) but the pay off is beautiful.

What simple, everyday changes would you encourage consumers to make in an effort to live a more environmentally conscious life?
Of course you can shop from environmentally friendly stores, or buy items that are eco-friendly. Reuse your grocery bags, drink water from canteens instead of buying plastic bottles, and buy items at the food store marked as green or recycled. Reduce your food waste by composting, if you don't want to compost there are people willing to pick up your compostable items! And if you're like me and love coffee, buy a reusable mug. If you go to Dunkin' Donuts every day for a year- that's 365 cups in the trash that aren't being recycled. Just being mindful, as appreciation and gratitude will help us all make better choices.

Fil of From The Garden

"Dedicate your consciousness to the environment, stay informed, talk to your neighbors, learn from those in your community what can be done to make your surroundings a better place."

What does earth-friendly mean to you and to From The Garden?
We all grew up with remembering "The Three R's" Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Being aware of taking care of our environment is always a priority when it comes to how we go about our day to day operations.

What measures does From The Garden take to reduce environmental impact, and work reciprocally with the earth?
From The Garden is always mindful of what product packaging can mean for environmental impact so we've implemented a policy to reduce the amount of new glassware our customers have to buy by refilling our jars right in our shop. It's a way of turning away from the disposable nature of our product packaging. More often than not our customers like to tell us also of the ways they reuse our jars in other ways such as decorative vases, storing preserves or even using as glassware in the kitchen. It takes more than just us to be truly focused on our environment, it's a communal as well as a global effort. 

What simple, everyday changes would you encourage consumers to make in an effort to live a more environmentally conscious life?
The best way to be environmentally conscious is to dedicate your consciousness to the environment, stay informed, talk to your neighbors, learn from those in your community what can be done to make your surroundings a better place. Don't buy into a fad just because pretending to be a good person both looks and feels good, do it because it's genuinely the right thing to do. Also turn off the faucet when you're brushing your teeth.