• Economy,  Shopping

    Week 50: Buy Nothing New

    If you had asked me to take this challenge a few years ago, I would have told you it was impossible. These days, however, it’s pretty much par for the course with my family. I think part of that is because our general consumption is down, but also because I know a number of resources for buying used, trading, or making do with what we have. The goal is this: buy nothing new. Obviously this doesn’t include food, medication, or toiletrice. It does mean clothes, toys, sports equipment, accessories, tools, yarn (yes, yarn), or anything you can really think of. You can buy used (think Value Village or Kijiji), trade…

  • Economy,  Energy

    Week 49: Invest in Solar Panels

    If you live in Ontario, there have a been a lot of changes in the solar industry in the last little while. The microFIT program which paid participants for the energy they were generating is now closed but there are still a number of amazing options for installing solar on the roof of your home or business.  Net Metering: Net metering (also known as net energy metering) is a solar system that lets you store your energy on the grid. When the sun is out and your solar panels are producing excess power that energy is sent to the grid. At night when your panels are no longer producing energy, can pull…

  • DIY,  Economy,  Energy

    Week 48: Retrofit Your Home

    It’s worth taking some time to explore the different ways that you can save energy and money by making changes around your home. Some changes can be quite large and costly, but others can be small and easy to do. A lot of the smaller changes can add up over time! Sealing Air Leaks: One of the biggest changes you can make if you live in an older home is to find air leaks and close them up. Air leaks can steal your heat in the winter and make heating your home a real challenge. Make sure that doors and windows seal properly and be sure to test your insulation before…

  • Economy,  Education,  Energy

    Week 45: Live Tiny (or Smaller!)

    You’d have to live under a rock if you haven’t heard of the tiny home movement. But tiny homes might not be for everyone. Even if you have a family with kids, you might consider moving to a smaller home to lower your carbon footprint and I think you’d find some other amazing side effects from being in a smaller space! My family downsized to a smaller home about 5 years ago. The main floor is about 900 square feet and really just one big room. Here are the changes that we’ve enjoyed: Lower heating and cooling costs: It’s easier to change the temperature in a smaller space! In the winter…

  • Economy,  Transportation

    Week 39: Work Where You Live

    A few years ago, I started tracking my carbon footprint with a cool web application called Project Neutral. There weren’t many surprises when I did my first run through the survey but one that really shocked me was the percentage of carbon output that came from driving my car. It shouldn’t really have been a surprise – everyone knows that cars are bad for the environment. But I think we tend not to think about how bad they are because they feel like a necessary evil. I can’t remember the exact percentage, but I remember that at least half of my family’s carbon output was on transportation. So when I had…

  • Community,  Economy

    Week 26: Share Tools

    When I first approached by partner (who is a mechanic and has a natural tendency to hoard) about the idea of sharing tools, he was immediately resistant. How could he trust others to take the same care that he would and ensure that things wouldn’t get broken? What if someone was using a tool that he needed? Who would be responsible for replacing tools that were broken? These are all totally good questions. The art of sharing resources such as tools can be tricky to navigate. Lucky for you, others have done a lot of the heavy lifting! Libraries: We are so fortunate in my town to have an amazing public library…

  • Economy,  Energy

    Week 19: Hang Your Laundry

    Like many of the approaches to being more environmentally friendly, this week’s topic is easy to do, will save you money, and just requires a bit of planning. Hanging your laundry to dry is an easy way to reduce your electricity bill and takes almost no effort. Another added bonus: it’s easier on your clothes and will help them last longer! Here’s a great article the breaks down the benefits and cost savings.  The biggest challenge in making this lifestyle change is that you need to leave the appropriate amount of time to let your clothes dry. This amount of time will change pretty drastically depending on where you live and what your…

  • 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…

  • 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…