Thursday, February 22, 2007

Well, we've been at it for 22 days now and our numbers have grown from 4 to 12 in that time, with several others mulling over their involvement. We got together last weekend to talk about how it's going.

Some highlights:

The day after our Feb. 1 start date, Cathy went to Alberta for a conference and was trapped in the West Edmonton Mall for 3 days. What a place to be trapped when you can't buy anything – she said she used the time to conduct some sociological research. Becca's watch died and it wasn't until she was sitting in the watch store, waiting for a new battery to be inserted, that she realized she had just purchased something new. Kevin cancelled his family's Lee Valley catalogue (too tempting). Lara and I (RenĂ©e) struggled, only briefly, with buying vacuum bags, before deciding that for us this is a health issue.

What we haven't mentioned previously in this blog is that our group is exempting health and safety items (and some work related items for the freelance writers and photographers and artists among us) from the buy nothing credo . Obviously this means different things to different people. Would you buy a used bathing suit from Value Village? Some of our members would and others wouldn't - a fascinating conversation!

In these first days, some members report feeling both relief at not being "allowed" to buy anything new and alienation because the acquiring of material possessions is so entrenched in our culture. (One of our members has not "come out" as a compacter yet at work because "they already think I'm weird."). We all agreed that so far it's shaping up to be an excellent opportunity to bring some consciousness to the choices we make and to decrease our impact on the environment. It's obvious already that once you start going down this road, there are a thousand small decisions to make. What I can say with certainty is that it feels good to be doing something rather than feeling powerless and depressed about the state of the world AND it's nice to be doing it with like minded others.

Other stuff:

Nancy was visiting a sick friend and wanted to get some flowers. Is this buying something new? We all agreed that if the flowers are grown locally and chemical free, this kind of purchase has no negative impact on the environment.

Becca noticed some locally grown cucumbers at the Farmers' Market, but then stopped to wonder what kind of power the farmer is using to grow greenhouse veggies in the winter.

Where does buying art/music/books fit in? There are three writers, a photographer, a potter, and a painter in our group. We certainly want to continue to be supported for the work that we do, but are also cognizant that this is the year of buying nothing new. Many of us talked about "needing" art as more of a spiritual/emotional foothold and that surely this is as important as a health or safety item. One suggestion was bartering for art and another was to make a monetary contribution to an artist whose work you admire, even if you're not buying their art for a year (e.g., if you use the library to read an author's book, send them a cheque in the mail).

Downloading music from places like myspace – is this supporting a musician in a sustainable way?

Options for giving gifts to others: donations in someone's name, gift certificates for experiences not items, and memberships (art gallery, museum, etc.)

A quandary: energy efficient light bulbs that are made in China and use fossils fuels to get to North America. Seems to defeat the purpose. Is there a Canadian producer of these types of lightbulbs? And who sells them locally?

At our next meeting, a number of us would like to talk about how to renovate homes without buying new things. It's been suggested that used building materials can be found in these spots:
- Habitat for Humanity has a website and a store in Burnside w/ recycled building materials
- Renovators Resource in Halifax
- Freecycle

Any other ideas out there?

For local folks reading this blog, there is a seed exchange at the Captain William Spry Centre in Spryfield on Saturday March 10 from 2-4:30pm.

A big thanks to Glenda for the yarn tips.

And here's a list of things our group is looking for in a used/recycled state if anyone can help out:
- piano light
- white or opaque shower curtain
- hot water baseboard covers
- small stool for a 2 year to stand on to reach the sink
- hanging flower baskets
- garden tools
- one can (or partial can) of glossy white spray paint
- glue for repairing piece of pottery (already has glue for wood & plastic)

Thanks for checking in on our progress.

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