• 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…

  • Reduce Plastic,  Shopping,  Zero Waste

    Week 38: Avoid Single Use Items

    It’s no surprise to anyone that our culture has become one of convenience. But it’s time to take a serious look at the cost of that convenience. One of the biggest mistakes we’ve made is the almost constant overuse of plastic and disposable single use items. Coffee cups, plastic straws, and plastic bags are the first few things that come to mind but once you start to take notice, you’ll start to see single use plastics everywhere in your day to day life. The bad news is that this is a global epidemic that is going to be costly and painful to clean up. The good news is that you…

  • Shopping

    Week 28: Choose Sustainable Businesses

    Spending dollars is like voting for the kind of world that you want to live in. Every time you give your money to a business, you’re telling that business that you like their products and that they should create more products like the one you’re buying. It’s important to make sure that you’re voting for the right products and the right businesses as often as possible. The good news is that more and more businesses are seeing the value in having a sustainable business model and are taking action whether it’s how the source their materials or giving back to their community. The bad news is that it can be…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 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…