The Mountain Equipment (MEC) Spring Catalog is out! But why, you may wonder, am I excited about a catalog full of stuff that I can’t buy due to the stringent rules of the Clean Bin Project?
Well, it just so happens that Grant and I, and our household’s waste-free, consumer-free initiative are featured on page 79!
For those of you who don’t live in Canada, MEC is our national co-operative outdoor equipment retailer and one of the most popular sources for gear and clothing for the self-propelled (think cycling, hiking, camping, rock climbing, ski touring, and paddle sports).
Last summer, Grant entered a short ski film of us doing the Garibaldi Neve Traverse (a few years ago when his hair was much longer and our video camera was much smaller) to the national MEC Sweet Spots Video competition. After much online voting by friends and friends of friends (thanks guys) we made it into the pool of 25 semifinalists.
It then went to a panel of judges, and low and behold, we placed 2nd winning a $1000 gift certificate!
So, when Grant went to pick up the gift certificate he had to ask if we could defer our purchasing because, well, we were doing this crazy little, year long experiment at home.
This sparked the attention of someone within MEC, and they contacted us about an article about the Clean Bin Project. Despite the seemingly ironic inclusion of our project in a catalog, I think it is actually fitting.
First off, of course MEC carries material goods – they’re a store – but you can also rent gear, get things fixed, attend educational sessions, and receive expert advice on all things outdoor, so it’s not just a retail outlet.
Secondly, MEC is a co-operative and has a sustainability mandate. They research where their products come from and how they’re made and ensure that they’re carrying high quality stuff that will last a long time. Page 127 of the catalog actually suggests, among other things, that you should:
- look for recycled materials
- select minimal or recycled packaging
- bring your own shopping bag
- don’t replace it, repair it
That practically sounds like it was stolen from the rules of the Clean Bin Project. My point is that, people do have to buy stuff, but there is a more sustainable way to be a consumer, and it’s nice to be able to have options to choose from.
Maybe you’ll also question the fact that we deferred our purchasing, as if waiting a year makes any difference to our consumption habits? Well, I think it might.
We definitely won’t be making impulse buys. I hope in the end we’ll pick items that are useful, durable, and recyclable at the end of their lifespan – things that we wouldn’t necessarily have considered before we started this project.
Of course, that’s only if we don’t spend it all in the meantime on chocolate bars -the only food item we can find in there packaged in paper. (You should’ve seen the look on the cashier’s face the first time we paid for a $2 chocolate bar with a $1000 gift certificate.)
Anyway, the best part about this catalog thing is that we get to reach thousands of people across the country (which does wonders for our blog stats by the way) and tell them about what we’re up to.
We’ve already had a few people blogging about it including Eric Miller Photography who gave us the best compliment ever saying “This small article has really challenged me. . . . it definitely gets my brain turning; allowing my creativeness to come up with unique ways I combat garbage in my house, with my family.”
That alone made my day!
You can check out the MEC article here. (If it looks odd, don’t worry, you can zoom in)