• Economy,  Shopping

    Week 16: Regift

    This week’s topic is a quick and easy way to pass along unwanted stuff from your family to someone else who is more likely to enjoy it. Regifting is easy: when it comes time to find a present or gift for someone, consider giving them a gently used item from your own home that your family has finished with. In my house, regifting started because my oldest son hates colouring. When he was really young he got tons of colouring books, crayons, and markers from family and friends. It all sat collecting dust on a shelf for years. An avid colouring fan myself, I couldn’t bring myself to just throw it away.…

  • Economy,  Shopping

    Week 15: Stop Buying “Stuff”

    We live in a culture of stuff. Our economic model requires us to continue consuming stuff at a frightening pace. Many people define themselves by the stuff that they own and most people believe that acquiring stuff will make them happy. It’s so engraved into our culture that it’s actually hard to stop buying stuff. And by stuff I mean the objects that we bring into our lives that we don’t necessarily require but that we believe will make our lives better. Anything from kitchen gadgets to fancy shoes to toys and games. When I think of “stuff”, I often associate it with the extra junk I used to come home with when I…

  • Food

    Week 14: Source Local, Sustainably Grown Food

    What a perfect time to be writing about this topic. Right now, it’s September in Southern Ontario which means harvest season! I’ve been spamming my Instagram feed with pictures of colourful, ripe, local produce that I’ve been getting at the farmer’s market every week. I’ve talked a lot in previous emails about why it’s important to buy local and why it’s important to make your own meals. I’ve also talked about why eating local food can have a huge impact on the environment, on your health, and on your wallet. If you’ve been practicing since week 10, you’ll know that eating locally grown food takes an adjustment but is well worth the effort. Hopefully…

  • Zero Waste

    Week 13: Donate Instead of Throwing Away

    This week I want to share my experiences in making a transition in how I get rid of things I don’t need anymore. Here’s my secret – I love a good purge. It’s so hard to get started, but once you remove unnecessary clutter from your life, it can open new doors. A few years back my family downsized. We move from 2400 square feet to about 1000 square feet so there was a lot of stuff that we needed to get rid of. We also lost storage space by way of a garage and a basement – and the new house has zero closets. It was definitely a transition!…

  • Education

    Week 12: Change Your Perspective

    Now that you are a several weeks into the process, you may be thinking more about environmental issues, small scale positive action, and how collective action might be a big part of the solution. You may be feeling really good about the actions you’ve taken so far. You may be struggling with a few – and that’s okay too. As I said in Week 1, learning is half the battle. This means that just thinking about and exploring these issues is an amazing way to change your perspective. For me, the biggest change has been learning to not buy things. And I’m not talking about important things, I’m talking about…

  • Economy,  Shopping

    Week 11: Shop Local

    So we’ve talked about buying your food locally but most of us spend money on more than just food. Whether it’s clothes for the kids, a new book, or hardware for home renovations, we all spend money on different things each week. How we spend those dollars and cents can have a huge impact on our local communities, as well as on large socio-economic and environmental issues. I’ve always enjoyed the “leaky bucket” analogy to understand why shopping locally is important. As explain by one article: “In the leaky bucket analogy for local economies, money flows into a region to circulate through local businesses like water into a bucket. Water…

  • Food,  Shopping

    Week 10: Eat Local

    Sometimes when we think about being more green, it’s hard to make the mental connection to the food that we eat. However, it’s one of the most important connections that we can think about. The food industry contributes a huge amount of carbon emissions to the world, and by making a few important changes in the way we buy and eat food, we can drastically reduce our personal contribution to that carbon footprint. You may have heard of the idea of the “100 mile diet”. I think it’s pretty cool. The concept is to find all the food you need within a 100 mile radius (give or take). The effects…

  • Mason Jars

    Week 9: Top 10 Ways to Use Mason Jars

    Lunch containers: Stop buying disposable plastic containers for your lunch and start using jars! You might have to squish your sandwich a bit, but other lunch foods fit great in jars. Buying bulk food: We have an awesome weekly routine of packing up jars and bringing them to the local bulk food store for flour, sugar, even peanut butter and jam. Check to see what bulk foods options are available in your city, then pack up your jars and go! Storing leftovers: Again, rather than using cheap plastic containers, storing leftovers from dinner in glass Mason jars will keep your food from drying out. And as a bonus, it’s easy to grab out…

  • Economy,  Shopping

    Week 8: Buy Second Hand

    I believe that one of the single biggest changes that you can make that will have a positive effect on the economic and environmental issues face us today is to buy second hand whenever possible. Buying used goods means that the supply for new goods is reduced and that waste is diverted from landfills. Buying second hand breaks the production cycle that relies so heavily on cheap oil and carbon emissions without requiring you to make any personal sacrifice! In fact, it can be a ton of fun! Almost every city has options for second hand shopping. There are chain stores like Value Village or Goodwill but there are also small, local consignment shops…

  • Reduce Plastic,  Zero Waste

    Week 7: Recycle!

    Okay. I’ll start off with some scary facts: An average plastic bottle can take around 450 years to decompose while a plastic bag or other plastic item can take up to 1000 years. Aluminum cans can take 80-200 years to decompose. Glass, while being wonderful and easy to recycle, will never ever decompose. Here are some more items: Cigarette Butts – 10-12 years; Monofilament Fishing Line – 600 years; Rubber-Boot Sole – 50-80 years; Foamed Plastic Cups – 50 years; Leather shoes – 25-40 years; Milk Cartons – 5 years; Plywood – 1-3 years; Painted board – 13 years; Cotton Glove – 3 months; Cardboard – 2 months; Nylon Fabric…