Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Earth Hour

Beautiful pics from around the world showcasing before and after the lights went off during Earth Hour.

http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2010/03/earth_hour_2010.html

I probably shouldn't be blogging about this but...

but I am steamed!!! Our boys don't have hoards of toys, but what they do have they can't seem to handle. All I asked for was 10 little wee minutes of them helping ME help THEM pick up THEIR stuff.
Too much to ask apparently. You'd think that I'd asked them to walk a mile in my shoes or something!! So I lost it... and I am not even feeling like a bad mommy! This madness has to stop somewhere sometime. And it is today - March 30 2010.
Sigh. Who am I kidding?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Let it rain, let it pour, let it...

get collected somehow?!
We used to have a rain barrell - one that even looked like a barrell, and had the tap on the bottom and the mesh on the top (to keep debris and mosquitos and drowning little boys out.)
But because it was cheaper (plastic $60) it cracked. Cracked beyond repair, or reuse for anything else. Luckily it was able to be recycled... but now we are left with no way to collect the springs rain.
So now I am scratching my head trying to figure out, in light of the challenge to not buy anything new, and that we plan on turning our flower beds into food forests, how to collect our rain water in a safe, effective manner with some curb appeal.
It is a legitimate concern I have to keep my boys out of it - they are 8,4 and 2... and the other day we found them on the neighbours roof!!! (fyi - we are apparently raising monkeys over here, so that makes 'baby-proofing' more complicated!) If you live in Canada, you also know that mosquitos are our national bird (!) and are a force to be reckoned with, so we need to reduce the amount of standing water around the yard. (hence the mesh being a necessary component of the rain barrell.)
I don't have the answers yet, so if you do, please share!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Earth Hour

So Earth Hour snuck up on me last night. We had big plans to do... something; but then I had a nap! I woke up 15 mins before Earth Hour. We turned all the lights and the computer off and sat oddly in the livingroom wondering what to do next. As we looked out the window the boys asked if we were going to see fireworks! haha Not knowing what else to do, we read The Lord of The Rings by flashlight for an hour. Ben fell asleep on the floor as we read. It was a sweet hour. Not as well-thoughtout as I would have liked, but sweet nonetheless.

My first time in 20 years!

So Hubby has been working on getting us all bikes and helmets etc for the last couple years at garage sales and such. Yesterday was the big day - the first family ride. Hubby and the boys have gone before, but not momma. So I was... scared. Yes, that adequately describes it. So when Hubby said that the tires wouldn't hold air, I was relieved! Yeah! No bike ride for me today!! But Hubby had an ace up his sleeve - the Salvage Centre. So off we all trapsed to the Salvage Centre and for $2 he was able to get me a new tire (and new tires for our 8 year olds bike once he wears through the ones he has on now) LOVE that place! So within the hour, all 5 of us were riding off down the trail. And yes, after 20 years, riding a bike for the first time is just like, well, riding a bike!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Phew! That was close!

Our heads are still reeling from all the attention our little challenge has spured. I woke up this morning to my 8 year old telling me that he was going to buy something at the book fair today. My first thought was 'NOOOO, everyone knows what we are doing now, and you even printed off The Star's article and took it to school!! People are watching us now!' haha But I swallowed hard and I gently asked him 'what about our challenge?'. He rambled on as best he could trying to justify his purchase of a Tech Deck (not even a book after all). He seems to think that his challenge is to try and win a Wii... what that had to do with the book fair, I don't know either! He walked away to get ready for school and when he came back I gently said to him once again that I'd like him to reconsider buying something at the book fair. I wasn't authoritative or pushy. He really felt like this was his decision... because it was. The point of this exercise isn't to brow beat our children into our rules, but for them to recognize the value of this experiment themselves. He thought about it for a couple seconds and then said, 'Okay, I'll just get a gum ball after swimming then'. PROUD momma bear over here!... but we shall see what comes home in his backpack today!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Awakening the Dreamer - Changing the Dream

I have since been trained as a facilitator, so if you are intrigued by what you see on the Awakening the Dreamer site (especially watch the 4 minute video) then please look for a symposium near you!

When I was invited to the Awakening the Dreamer symposium - I thought 'GREAT! I'd love some encouragement and renewed energy to make MY dreams a reality!' (and it was a nice break from my three little boys!)
I was about 2 hours into the 4 hour program thinking it was taking a LONG time to focus on 'my' dreams. I was fascinated by the images from around the world, enraputed by the stories and astonished with the facts,... but when was it going to be about me?
And that was when it hit me... if WAS all about me, AND had nothing to do with me, all at the same time. Now I may be simple and take a while to catch on, but when I do, I latch on like a bulldog! I've latched onto the idea of an "Environmentally sustainable, Socially just, Spiritually fulfilling human pressence on this planet."

It is about more then recycling, practicing the Golden Rule, or saying my prayers. It is about more then my small, single, prideful dreams. It is about more then paying lip service to nature, species and human rights. It is about more then awakening - although all these things lead to awakening.
It is about changing the dream of the modern world. And the dream is 'So powerful is the light of Unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.' It is what holds the boulders together, it is why the flower turns toward the sun and why the moth burns its wings on the lamp.
It is about LOVE. Love for self, all others, and earth.
And it awakens in our heart, grows in our home, blossoms in our community and flourishes on our planet.
So I am going to go home, recycle, live right and pray with my little boys, and plant a seed of awakening in their hearts, so that this world is a beautiful garden for all of earth's treasures.

Find your local resources

There are a great many resources available to help make this challenge not only managable, but fun and fulfilling!

1) Freecycle (an internet site where you can pass on stuff you don't want anymore, or acquire things you need - all free of charge)

2) Libraries - great source for not only books, but movies, magazines and story kits for kids. Our town also has a Toy Library which operates much the same way as a regular library. This allows the kids to get their 'fill' of a certain toy and the enjoyment of getting toys they may not have been able to get otherwise.

3) We are all familiar with second hand stores, and garage sales, but there are also stores like The Habitat for Humanity Restores where you can buy things for your renovations, or even to furnish your home.

4) Friends!! You have some and can be one! :) We were born wanting to be of service and make a difference.

5) In our town we have a place called The Salvage Centre - where items destined for the landfill, but are still in good condition are dropped off and if you need something you can buy it for very cheap. All the money raised goes to local charities and we have furnished pretty much our whole house over the years... you'd be suprised what people get rid of!

6) There are various internet sites such as Kijiji or Craigslist where you can advertise to sell or give away some of your stuff, or buy what you need. Most local newspapers are online now and have a free classified section online as well.

7) Our imaginations! My husband took an abandoned bbq, sawed the legs off of it and viola - a fire pit for fishing and camping! It cost $2 and kept most of it out of the landfill.

Follow up 'answers' to curious questions...

I can do nothing but shake my head at some of the comments or questions that have been raised.

1) YES we are buying NEW food... I don't know any other way to eat unless I had a few stomachs like a cow, or was a baby bird with regurgitated food from my mother! lol We do have plans to turn our flower beds into food forests though, try to eat as local as possible and as Food Inc suggests, 'only buy food your great grandmother would recognize as food'... so out goes yogurt in a tube, Scooby Doo, Shrek and Dora gummy treats in unrecyclable packaging and microwave popcorn.

2) Someone has pointed out that many many people go for very long periods of time without buying something new - not by choice, but by necessity, like the elderly or those on welfare. And she is absolutely right! Our challenge isn't to disrespect those in that situation, and if we thought more about each other, and less about 'being' the Jonses we'd all be better off. I thank the people who have the resources or desire to buy new things for their families, cause when they are done with it, it can serve a great many more people. As our consciousness chanages we will make better buying decisions, not just with our wallets in mind, but also for the earth and those who inhabit it.

Many questions... creating answers.

There have been many questions and comments that folks would like some clarification on... so I will do my best to satisfy those, but please know that I don't know all the answers and we are figuring some things out as we go along...

1) Gifts for holidays, birthdays, etc:
I am fortunate to be among friends who are on the same page as we are in regards to gifts - second hand is fine, even prefered. Another thing we do is give 'experiences' rather then toys, such as gift certificates to the movies, book store, zoo, science centre, bowling etc. Great, almost new toys can also be found at garage sales and second hand stores. We are trying to rethink what it means to honor someone, and get away from The Hallmark way of celebrating. It does require a bit of creativity and planning, and being a lot more thoughtful about our decisions.

2) Some people, rightfully so, are worried that if this catches on and more people by used, that the economy would fail. We know we are going to one extreme here. We have spent years, as a society, on the other end of the spectrum where new was better and 'enough' tasted like 'more'. So we are purposefully going to the other end of the spectrum to truly reevaluate what is essential and responsible ways to get it, so that next year we will be more clear about what we need and how to get it in ways that is good not only for our wallet, but also for the earth. When we do start buying again, we plan to support local as much as possible. There are some fantastic artisans and producers out there that aren't found in an aisle at the big box stores and we plan on supporting those people.

3) We know that we aren't the first to embark on this journey - thankfully for all of us there are a great many people challenging themselves to do more conscious living and less impulsive buying. We didn't start this challenge as a way to save money, but since my husband has been laid off it has taken a great deal of pressure off.

4) We don't feel we are being unfair to the children at all. We are all making sacrifices for this to work. The boys are really learning to focus on what they really DO want, instead of blowing in the marketing/media wind. Our 8 year old is so convinced he wants a Wii that he dreams about it, enters contests for it, and wakes his brother up in the middle of the night to talk about it! haha As a family we are being more active too - getting down on the floor together, going to the park etc. and THAT is what kids REALLY want... not the latest whatzit from the action aisle.

Today

Double Wow!!
Woke up this morning to a phone call from a radio station in Toronto (too sleepy to remember what it was called) wanting to interview us live this morning! In about an hour we will share our story again.
It has been very interesting to read everyone's comments - both on the blog and in The Star. Some supportive, some not so much - lol. I don't know if it is because I am getting closer to 40 years old, but the nay-sayers don't bother me at all and I am able to take them either with a grain of salt or as constructive criticism. We know what our true intentions are, and I don't mean to sound glib... but that is all that matters. :)
Well, since I started writing this, a second radio station - CKGL 570 Gary Doyle show in Kitchener just called for a live interview in about two hours!! What a snowball effect.
I will keep you updated as the day progresses. Thank you so much for checking in with us!

The Toronto Star

Wow!!
I am feeling completely intimidated right now! What started out as a simple family challenge to not buy anything new this year is turning into so much more. When we first mentioned our challenge on Facebook a few weeks ago we never imagined that our story would end up being featured in the largest newspaper in Canada - The Toronto Star!!
Being interviewed prompted us to make a blog of our journey; the first journey for me was figuring out how to do that! I am not too techno savvy, but with some help from friends I muddled my way through it.
Since the interview, and now that it is published, and the blog has been created I feel a real responsibility, hence the intimidation! haha
We plan on doing our best this year. We don't profess to be radical by any means, just a family reevaluating the 'stuff' in our lives. That being said, there are a few things that we will get new this year - brakes for the truck... and underware! haha
So I hope you check in with us as the blog progresses to get ideas and keep us honest! It has already been quite the ride!

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!!)
Who: Our normal, unassuming, curious family of five.

What: Creatively finding ways to meet our needs and wants while not buying anything new.

When: January - December 2010

Where: In all areas of our lives, but more specifically in our consuming habits.

Why: To create a NEW norm; to grow our consciousness to such a point that we are truly thoughtful about our consuming choices; to use goods the earth has already paid for.