Greene: Make Smthng Week

Nov 29, 2018

Over the past few years, I’ve been joining a group of friends for a holiday craft afternoon during which each person brings a project to share and sets up a station with clear instructions and materials.

Projects range from holiday cards and elaborate origami decorations to beauty salves and spiked hot chocolate. The afternoon is well fueled with snacks and by evening people go home having put a serious dent in their gift list.

For me it’s always a slightly guilty pleasure, because secretly I feel I should have outgrown my fondness for glitter covered snowflakes by now. So it was gratifying to discover that getting together and making stuff is, well, sort of cutting edge.

Conceived as an alternative to the consumer feeding frenzy that can overtake us at this time of year, Make Smthng Week is a two year old anti-consumer event. It's based on the notion that humanity uses up more natural resources than the planet is able to reproduce in a year, simply because we’re producing and consuming too much.

Vermont still enjoys a wealth of DIY activities - we never really gave up on knitting groups, quilting bees, pie parties, and cookie swaps. But this initiative expands on DIY by adding swapping books and clothing, upcycling, and repairing to the mix.

The goal of Make Smthng Week is to ‘Make something buy nothing.’

In theory you can go online and find an official event near you anywhere in the world, though I didn’t see any sponsored events listed in Vermont. But it is possible to create an event and put it on the Make Smthng calendar.

A shift away from runaway consumption would affect everything - from the carbon footprint of new electronics to plastic packaging in the ocean and underpaid workers making jeans or toys.

In partnership with Greenpeace, Fablab, Fashion Revolution and others, the campaign seeks to nudge participants into activism. Tax breaks for repair shops, for example, might make repairing articles competitive with buying new. Supporting regulations that fight planned obsolescence, like the EU’s push for longer-lasting electronics, could reduce waste.

And since I seem to have more than a lifetime supply of glitter, I’m happy share my stash.