I thought the Paris Hilton fad was done. I thought we were over her, and by “we,” I mean whoever found her worthy of attention in the first place.
I thought it was now uncool to dislike her, passé even. Abhorring Paris Hilton is soooo 2002. Shouldn’t we be making fun of Miley Cyrus instead?
But then the FedEx man walked into our office with a box—a Pandora’s box of synthetic, Chinese-made baubles ready for release.
As I always do when a package appears at our door, I ripped it open with the uninhibited glee of a 8-year-old on Christmas morning. Bubblegum-pink filigree and bubblegum-pink tissue paper formed a nest for the Paris Hilton Celebrity Styler and the Paris Hilton Ultimate Brush, both packaged in bubblegum-pink plastic and coated with the shiny, pouting face of the Paris…Ms. Hilton if you’re nasty.
As these items sat on my desk, I realized that they are everything I dislike about consumerism. It’s not that the Celebrity Styler is bad or that Paris Hilton is bad. It’s that there are bazillions of products just like these: developed based on the probability that the consumer is stupid, numb and willing to believe that a brush can “make you the princess in the crowd” and put you “in a better mood for your guy,” as the packaging around The Ultimate Brush states.
We all know the holidays are consumerized. However, being a consumer does not need to be a nasty, deplorable act. It means making educated decisions about spending money and, come holiday gift-giving, conveying emotion and love within a prettily wrapped box. It means giving gifts with soul.
This year, we decided to turn our annual holiday issue into a Locavore’s Gift Guide. Instead of packages sent from Target or Best Buy, my desk is now cluttered with boxes of Celestial Seasonings tea, Chocolove bars, a pair of pants from Flylow and packages of Otterbox iPhone cases. Emails and calls have poured in from local jewelers and artists, headwear and snowshoe makers, and even nationally known corporations that call Colorado home.
While the local food and shopping movement has existed for decades, Webster’s Dictionary adopted “locavore” into its annals in 2007, defining it as “One who eats foods grown locally whenever possible.” For our proceedings, we are calling a locavore “one who consumes locally”—whether searching out locally-grown produce, finding a locally-owned store to purchase everyday products like soap and batteries or finding a pair of earrings crafted by a local artisan. Our goal was to generate a handbook for finding and supporting local artisans, creatives, innovators and entrepreneurs, making it easier for the average consumer to consume smarter and closer to home.
We have no misconceptions about your shopping habits. We know you’ll continue your Target trips and your Anthropologie sprees, but maybe this guide will create a shift in your thinking. Buying a locally-made gift is not just about shrinking your carbon footprint. It’s about boosting the local economy, helping to create and save local jobs and showing support for our fellow residents. And most importantly, it’s about giving gifts with heart and soul, something for your neighbor and from your neighbor, something homespun and connected to your homeland.
And if nothing else, it’s to guarantee that no one in our readership receives something like the Paris Hilton Celebrity Styler this holiday season.