How to Be a Conscious Consumer During the Holidays

child at christmas

The holidays are the perfect opportunity to celebrate your loved ones with thoughtful gifts, but we want to encourage all you Alchemists to take a conscientious approach to consumerism this season. Knowing that many of the gifts we give don’t come from sustainable or fair trade sources, how does one participate in the gift-giving ritual of the holidays while remaining mindful of the human and environmental costs that come with so many products?

Take heart, you do have options.   While we think our products are worth considering as a great solution, even if Alchemy Goods isn’t on your shopping list, we hope you’ll consider some of these suggestions for how you can shop more sustainably this season.

Gift the Gift of Donation

Photo by Oxfam

If you’re not sure what to get someone, maybe the best gift is a charitable donation in their name. You might not know what your coworker, white elephant match-up, distant relative, or son’s girlfriend need or want, but there are a lot of other people in the world who are only too easy to shop for. Why not send aid to the refugees in Syria, give livestock or valuable supplies to an international family living in poverty through a site like Oxfam, or make a donation to a homeless shelter in your gift recipient’s community? A charitable gift isn’t a cop-out, and can still be personal—think of a cause that the recipient of the gift is likely to support (are they an animal lover? environmentalist? a mother who might care deeply about shelters specifically for women and children?) and you might be surprised how much it will mean to them.

Keep It Local

If you do want to give a physical present, try to choose something locally-made. The working conditions of the overseas factories producing so many of our holiday purchases
can be very hard on the factory workers.   Low retail prices are often achieved by lowering standards for worker safety and comfort—if gift-giving is about thoughtfulness and kindness, ensuring that all the presents you buy were made fairly and willingly should be a csa tilthpriority. The easiest way to do this is to buy locally! You’re ensuring that 100 percent of the profits not only go back to your community, but are distributed fairly among the people who are actually making the products.

For example, we’ve talked about Community Supported Agriculture before, but it bears repeating—CSAs (weekly boxes of produce from a local farmer) are awesome, and make awesome gifts! Give someone on your list a share in a CSA, and they will get exciting new vegetables every week, which is practical, fun, and lasting, plus bears the peace of mind that comes with local, organic consumption.

Keep It Sustainable

Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, Americans throw away 25 percent more trash than the rest of the year, amounting to 25 million tons of garbage. We hope that all you Alchemists look for sustainable alternatives to one-time-use packaging and also choose gifts that were made sustainably and will be enjoyed for a long time.
We love this article from the Seattle Times that contains a number of locals sustainable shopping ideas. For example, did you know that Seattle Seahawks jerseys are made from recycled plastic bottles? Giving your favorite Hawks fan an up-cycled jersey that they’ll proudly wear for years is a great way of putting your dollars towards a team that values the environment. (We also recommend the Seahawks totes from their partnership with Alchemy Goods that raise money for the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence!)


Items that are made from up-cycled materials are often as practical and pleasing as any comparable items you might buy, but allow you to make a difference by reducing waste instead of contributing another item to a future landfill. Another option is to buy pre-used items in the first place—finding a cool vintage sweater in a second-hand shop repurposes something that’s already been created and also winds up being a lot more unique and thoughtful than another sweater from Macy’s. We especially encourage jewelry shoppers to buy antiques or pre-owned pieces, given the painful human and environmental costs of most mining operations.

Happy Holidays, Alchemists! We hope you’re able to find conscientious gifts for everyone on your list this year. Even when the trees are bare, we want the season to be as green as possible.











Photo Credit; Photo Credit; Photo Credit

Our Partnership Process on the Seahawks Tote

Last week we were thrilled to announce a partnership project with the Seattle Seahawks to create a line of totes from upcycled banners to raise money for the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The bags are available only at the Seahawk’s flagship retail store at CenturyLink Field, and they’re already going fast!

We’d love to share a little bit more about the story of our involvement in the project. We actually launched our banners-to-bags program several years ago, inviting teams, companies, government agencies, or event organizers to turn their used banners into branded products that would demonstrate their commitment to zero-waste initiatives. We’ve helped a number of groups up-cycle their banners into lasting, usable totes that are also a piece of their history.

We had originally been talking with the Seattle Sounders about converting the material that covers their upper decks during games into functional up-cycled products when the Seahawks came to them asking if they knew anyone who could repurpose their old banners. Naturally, the Sounders gave them our name!

Treasured Seahawks employee Sandy Gregory, who’s worked with the team since its inaugural season in 1976, had saved many banners and materials over the years and wanted to see them put to good use. Though these banners can be up to four stories high, we’re able to unfurl and cut down to size these salvaged materials at our workshop to produce beautiful patterned totes. Our workshop is just two blocks south of the Seahawks stadium, so one of the coolest things about this whole project is that Alchemy Goods is right in the epicenter for Seahawks game day excitement, and we hope we see a few of these bags go by our door on Sundays!

We couldn’t be happier for the opportunity to collaborate with the Seahawks, an amazing team that has been such a source of pride for our city, and that through this partnership, we’ve had an opportunity to contribute to such an important cause. Though Alchemy Goods has regularly donated products to organizations that align with our mission, such as sustainability or cycling causes, we’ve never participated in a large-scale fundraiser where all the profits are donated directly.

As October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we were especially grateful for an opportunity to contribute to a cause close to our hearts, our homes, and our region. Since 1997, there have been nearly 1,000 deaths that were the result of domestic violence in our state alone. We are so glad to have a chance to help raise money for an organization that aids abuse victims and—perhaps most importantly—prevents future abuse through education, resources, and community building. We are also proud of our Seahawks for selecting a cause that goes straight back to Washington families and, given the NFL’s checkered past with handling domestic abuse, speaks to our team’s commitment to safe relationship building.

We’re excited that this project indicates both a regional and national shift in consumer conscience. When we first launched our banners-to-bag program, we didn’t have very many candidates. “But the fact that organizations as important as the Seahawks are now coming to us,” said founder Eli Reich, “is a sign of changes in consumer behavior. People didn’t use to be so receptive to it, and now they’re thinking more about what materials their products came from and where they’re manufactured and how they can be reused. We don’t take credit for that change, but it’s really wonderful to witness.”

We love imagining that our city and our world are becoming safer, greener, and more aware, and that we’re helping accelerate that process!


Seahawks Partner with Alchemy Goods to Upcycle Banners and Raise Money for Charity

All proceeds from tote bag sales will benefit Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

The Seattle Seahawks and Alchemy Goods announced yesterday one-of-a-kind Seahawks themed tote bags are now on sale at the team’s flagship retail store at CenturyLink Field.  The eco-friendly bags were made from recycled stadium and event banners. All proceeds from the tote bag sales will be designated to the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (WSCADV).

“We are excited to partner with Alchemy Goods, a local company, dedicated to recycling and providing a new function for these banners,” said Seahawks VP Community Outreach Mike Flood.  “All proceeds will benefit WSCADV, who will utilize the funds to support their on-going work to prevent domestic violence, educate and engage communities across Washington State.”

seahawks both bagsThe upcycled bags come in two sizes, a small lunch tote for $15 and a full-size grocery bag for $22.  The bags are durable, strong and water resistant.  Some of the bags were created from the two 50 by 25 foot banners that hung from the west side of the CenturyLink Field Event Center garage the past few years.  The banners feature Seahawks S Earl Thomas and RB Marshawn Lynch.

“We are very grateful for this support from the Seattle Seahawks,” said Nan Stoops, Executive Director of the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence. “Domestic violence is 100% preventable and we are thrilled the 12s have an opportunity to join in and support our work to stop this violence before it starts.”

The upcycled tote bags will only be available at the team’s flagship store, The Pro Shop, located on the west side of CenturyLink Field in limited quantities.

Seahawks Garage Banner Step 2“Alchemy Goods bags are, quite literally, recycled,” said founder Eli Reich.  “We Seahawks fans will appreciate our efforts in transforming this reclaimed billboard.  The 12’s can now own a piece of Seahawks history, help create a brighter future and limit the consumption of Earth’s natural resources.”

Visit for more information.

About the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (WSCADV)

Founded in 1990 by survivors of domestic violence and their allies, the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence is a non-profit network of over 70 domestic violence advocacy programs across the state of Washington. They improve how communities respond to domestic violence and work to create a social intolerance for abuse. Their work includes research, training and technical assistance, producing educational tools, promoting domestic violence awareness, and public policy advocacy. To learn more, please visit

Oktoberfest Seattle Brewery Spotlight

Munich’s legendary 17-day Oktoberfest draws over six million people annually from all around the world, and has been the most important celebration of Bavarian brews since the first festival was held in 1810.  Seattle might not draw quite the same crowds as Munich for our Oktoberfest celebrations, but we still encourage you to raise a glass of locally-made Oktoberfestbier-style brew!

 The classic Oktoberfestbier—a pale lager or Pilsner—is the exclusive beer of the event. In Germany, only six breweries are licensed to make and sell Oktoberfestbier, and all of them are located within Munich, making Oktoberfest not only an important occasion for craft brews, but also for the recognition and promotion of local business.

To parallel Munich’s six signature breweries, here are six of our Seattle favorites!

Flying Bike Brewery


This brand new brewery just opened in Greenwood a few months ago, but they’re already braving a bold new path for the way a business can operate. Flying Bike is Seattle’s first-ever Cooperative Brewery, meaning it’s member-owned and operated. All members have equal share in the business, and all their recipes are chosen from member submissions by voting members! Flying Bike is democratizing beer, and their process has resulted in some very tasty brews! We love their Airship Pale Ale, which won their 2013 Pale brewing competition. It uses 6 different malts and 6 different hops, and you’ll love the nuance.

Fremont Brewery


Fremont Brewery is a family-owned business that’s been operating since 2009, and we love their sustainability agenda as much as their beer! They have been careful to use a zero-waste production process, are one of 24 breweries nationwide to sign the Brewery Climate Declaration, heat their brewery with on-site generate steam instead of gas, use cans instead of glass (which is 80 percent recycled as opposed to 5 percent), clean their own drainage, and participate in Forterra’s Evergreen Carbon Capture program to reduce their footprint. Their Universale Pale Ale is a Northwest take on the Bavarian favorite, and will be perfect every time.

Georgetown Brewing


Georgetown Brewing Company makes one of Seattle’s all-time favorite beers: Manny’s Pale Ale. If you grew up in Seattle, you might not even realize this beer is impossible to find anywhere else. Manny’s is in just about every bar in the city, but you can’t buy it bottled and you can’t buy it outside Seattle. Everyone loves Manny’s so much because it’s exactly what you would want in a perfect lager: a robust flavor that’s interesting and present but not overpowering.

Peddler Brewing Company


It’s no secret that Alchemy Goods loves bicycles, so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that Peddler Brewing made it on our list of local notable breweries! Peddler is a Ballard microbrewery with a 12-tap tasting room that also has an indoor bike rack, bicycle work station for tune-ups, and repurposed bicycle parts as decor! They also offer discounts to anyone with a Cascade Bicycle Club membership card, Pronto Cycle Share membership key, or Bicycle Benefits sticker. Try their Peddle Strike Pale Ale sold bottled all over town or on tap in their tasting room!

Spinnaker Bay Brewing


Traditionally, beer was made almost entirely by women, from the first records of beer-brewing in Ancient Egypt to colonial America. Women were the brewers of the household, and it wasn’t until society shifted its focus from agriculture to manufacturing and beer was industrialized that women stopped making beer.

Spinnaker Bay Brewing is continuing a long tradition of female brewers. This Columbia City brewery was founded in 2012, and is the only 100 percent woman-owned microbrewery in Washington State. Beer is part of their matriarchal heritage—over the bar hangs a family portrait of Brewmaster Janet Spindler’s great grandmother with her homemade keg, emblazoned with the words “What is home without beer?” For a perfect Oktoberfest pour, we recommend their Kölsch-style pale ale A Little Dinghy Blonde, which draws so many cues from German lagers it’s even made with malts from Munich!

Naked City Brewery


Our sixth local brewery is the dream of two friends named Don, who followed their shared passion for craft beer and now have one of the most beloved Greenwood destinations for both delicious brews and local arts. The Naked City Taphouse follows the principle that “great beer and delicious food set the table for community life,” and they host art, poetry, film, and political events. And like Spinnaker, Naked City has a classic Munich-malted Oktoberfest classic, The Spy Who Came In For A Kölsch!

Visit Seattle Made if you want to browse hundreds of other local businesses (like Alchemy Goods!) that make up Seattle’s local economy!

Logos from brewer websites, Beer Pulse and Washington Beer Blog

Shop Spotlight: Trek Superstore

Shop Name: Trek Superstore(Albuquerque, NM)

Why They Recycle Tubes: Here at the shop, we’re all conscious of the environment and strive to keep ourselves as green as possible. Here in the desert, we really know how to go through tubes. When they reach the end of their day, we feel the best thing to do is give them a great new life with the kind folks over at Alchemy Goods. We love what they do and their products are great! We’d also like to thank goat-heads and many other vicious plans of the desert Southwest for making our contribution possible.

About the Shop: Here at the Trek Bicycle Superstore, we strive for a high level of customer satisfaction. Our staff is the friendliest in town because we know the value of our customers and the community. We’re together in this! Our staff is a mixture of all tube sizes, from Road, Mountain, Cross and BMX. Tubes are one of the highest selling items in the southwest. All hail the Puncture Vine.

Shop Spotlight: Ernie’s Bicycles

Shop Name: Ernie’s Bicycles(Massillon, OH)

Staff Bios:

  • Front row from left to right:
  • Foster, Lorena, and Ernie. Back row left to right: John, Alex, and Joe.
  • Don’t forget Debbie (Ernie’s wife) taking the picture!
  • Who’s also not in the picture: Wayne and Ernie Jr.

Why they recycle: The trash going to the landfills has been bothering Ernie for as long as he can remember. Ernie, as well as the rest of us were VERY happy to find a place to send our tubes and keep them out of the trash. We have a great team that really believes in keeping the environment clean, so it wasn’t hard to get them involved. What we took away from this campaign is how many tubes we have thrown away since 1978, it’s sickening. Hopefully that won’t be the case any longer. We will definitely continue to collect tubes.

Tube Recyling

Tube Recycling Hero:Christopher Czambel is the Operations Manager for Bike and Roll Chicago, a bicycle and Segway rental and tour company. Christopher started out his 2012 season as a member of the distribution team, which required him to move equipment and resources between all rental locations. With a fleet of over 300 bicycles, they go through a lot of tubes.

Why Chris RecyclesChristopher began to notice the amount of broken rims, bicycle parts, tires, and tubes that where simply being thrown out. He began to investigate into company’s who re-purpose these materials and found Alchemy.

After presenting companies to the head mechanic, he was told that if Bike and Roll had to pay for shipping, it wasn’t worth their time to spend the money. Determined to reuse these tubes, Christopher stored used tubes at his house and donated them to other bike shops around Chicago who where already sending to Alchemy. It was through these shops, he learned that being an authorized Trek dealer, which Bike and Roll is, SHIPPING IS FREE!

Christopher started the 2013 season, making tube recycling a number one priority. He installed a collection bin for members as well as a bin at each mechanic location. Using boxes from QBP orders, from April until the end of the Alchemy tube drive last week, Bike and Roll collected over 800 tubes. He also made friends with the local Bike Police Patrol Unit mechanics and got them to donate their used tubes to the cause.

But Christopher won’t stop there: his mission is to get bike tube recycling stations installed throughout Chicago, and he’s partnering with The Active Transportation Alliance to make it happen.

Shop Spotlight: The Bear Mountain

Store Name: TheBear Mountain(Waco, TX)

Staff Bios:

From left to right:

  • Grayson Meek: Loves to bike and be active
  • Bob Simonette: Endurance road rider and loves long walks on the beach
  • Don Ickles: Ultra-marathon cyclist and the Iceman
  • Matthew Bates: The head honcho and all around cycling guru
  • Joel Allen: Seminary student and outdoor enthusiast
  • Brandon Blagg: The owner and long time retro-grouch
  • Jacob Creighton: Wrench, canoe racer and mountain bike king (not pictured)

Why they joined the Tube Collection Challenge: We joined the tube campaign because we couldn’t stand throwing away our tubes and knowing they were just going to a landfill. We jumped at the chance to help turn bike waste into something useful and help the earth out, just a little bit! It was a win-win!

Shop Spotlight: Two Wheer Dealer

Shop Name: Two Wheer Dealer(Wilmington, NC)

Why They Recycle: All of us at the Two Wheeler Dealer love to recycle and tubes are only a small part of our belief in recycling. We are happy to participate and find it fun to see how many tubes we can collect.

Staff Bios: Our staff is diverse and very active in numerous sports/activities such as surfing, stand-up paddling, racing bikes, long distance touring, photography, volunteering, commuting, fishing, school, raising families, art, and the list goes on…! The picture above is from a shop bike ride one morning.