Saturday, March 20, 2010

So how did all this start?

A few years ago I read a book called 'A year without made in China' by Sara Bongiorni. It was about her family's journey to not buy anything made in China - not as a political statement, but just to see if their needs could be met with products made closer to their home in the United States.

I came up with the idea of challenging our family to not buy anything new for one full year. We have many purposes for embarking on this challenge:

1) delaying gratification to help us determine what we really need or want, and how we can find creative ways to acquire those things without further harming the resources of the earth.
2) teaching our children the value of things, dollars, opportunities, and choices. 3) to find out if having less IS having more.

So how have we done 3.5 months into this journey? Is living the simple life... simple? Have we saved money or resources? Are we having fun? What have we learned so far?

Well... we ARE having fun! Especially my husband and I! My hubby Jamie wanted a fire pit for camping and fishing... so he took an old, broken bbq and sawed the legs off it, and viola! perfect fire pit! Yes, that saved a bit of $$, but it also saved most of the bbq from going to the landfill.
We have fallen off the wagon a couple times though. At the beginning of the challenge we forgot about it and unthinkingly bought a magazine. I will also admit to not being able to pass up the local scrapbook store's closing sale. It is a learning curve for sure.

And we are learning many things! Firstly, how unconscious we've been with our purchases in the past! Every time we pick up something now, we are consciously making choices, and that is what it is really all about. Shopping isn't 'bad' - especially when you are supporting local businesses, artisans, markets and friends.

We have found being on this challenge that we are never in any stores!! (other then for groceries) The amount of material distractions facing our boys has been drastically reduced. We've reclaimed a great deal of the toy room by streamlining their toys, and said good-bye to buying the entire media package that comes with most kids movies and shows lately. (ever notice when a new movie comes out, you could furnish your entire house with Sponge Bob, Spiderman or Dora?!)(and how often does a new trend come out? - ALL the time!!)


  1. So happy you started a blog Jess. You are always so inspiring. This is a huge challenge you are undertaking and I am so proud of you.

  2. Very interesting idea. What will you do about clothing for your growing children, or about Christmas presents? Are you able to buy supplies to make things yourself?

  3. This is a great challenge for a family to undertake. I am single without children and I have been doing this for years. Like you, other then groceries, personal hygiene, the occasional clothes and footwear I shop all second hand, thrift, auction etc..

    I actually started a business selling vintage items, all found in thrift type stores and at junk shops. So I have taken living second hand to a whole different level. I use the funds from this endeavor to buy handmade only items (granted that are new) for gifts. Or I use my vintage items to barter for gifts. Bartering is a fantastic way to be economical and meet new people!

    For me it started with the day I just became so fed up with all the commercials on TV that were trying to convince you that you needed all of this product. I literally unplugged my TV and I have not turned it on again in years. In fact, just a few days ago I sold it on my local kijiji, to someone who was looking for their own second hand treasure. =)

    Good luck, I hope you have a great time with this. Just remember that the joy of it all is how creative you can challenge yourself to be!

  4. I read your article in the Star today and am completely enthralled. I have two small boys and find myself constantly tripping over toys and, worse, buying more without really thinking. I hope that I can be as disciplined as you.

  5. I think you are my new blog best friend.