Monthly Archives: November 2010

The One in One Out Wardrobe

The rumors are true. I went clothes shopping.

Since the project, shopping from clothes is something I rarely do. I’m not sure if it’s because not buying stuff makes me feel virtuous or because my closet is so chock a block full that I can’t cram anything else in there. Maybe it’s the feeling that I should be doing something better with my time like having picnics or going hiking.

In any case, last week while in between film screenings on Vancouver Island, we went thrifting. It turned out that it was half price day at Value Village, so I managed to snag 3 sweaters and dress all for $15. (Mmm hmmm – that’s a bargain). I was pretty pleased with myself, having stuck to my  eco guns and shopped secondhand.

And then I started thinking about minimalism. Minimalists aim to live with very few belongings (eg. some people actually count their belongings, aiming to own just 50 or 100 things tops). And I have to say, I’m inspired.  Not to the extend that I am going to ditch my blender or my tickle trunk of awesome costumes, but I have decided to cap my wardrobe.

That’s right, in my newly dubbed ‘one in, one out’ closet, I am going to have to donate 3 of my current tops to charity in order to get my 3 new-to-me sweaters in the door. (No fair trading an old pair of socks for new jeans – they have to be the same general category of clothing).

It seems easy in theory, but when I actually tried to do it, I just couldn’t find three shirts I was willing to part with. I have two rubbermaid containers full of shirts; I only wear maximum 2 at a time; but I seem to have sentimental attachments to every single one.

Grant has been successfully trimming his belongings by taking photos of the items he feel some distance nostalgic connection to and them dropping them off at the Sally Ann. But so far all I have managed to get rid of is a couple pairs of raggedy underwear (rag bag), a few single socks (dusters), and some t-shirts that would fit a 12 year old.

Seems like to road to wardrobe minimalism is going to be a long one for me.

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Waste Watch Wednesday: The Majestic Plastic Bag

Ok, we haven’t had a wednesday video here for awhile, but then Grant showed me this stellar film last night, and I just had to share.

It’s a captivating short  – perfectly shot and capturing the true story of plastic bags in vivid detail. Plus, it’s narrated by Jeremy Irons for that authentic, British “what I’m saying is fact – you can tell from my accent” appeal. I could just listen to him all day. Long live the mockumentary.

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Are Reusable Containers Unsanitary?

People often ask me if I ever get shot down trying to use my own containers in grocery stores. Generally, the answer is ‘no’, but that’s mostly because I choose to shop where it isn’t an issue. However, just over a year ago, I had a run in at a popular organic food chain that refused to fill my container citing “health reasons”. They weren’t clear on what legislation governed this, but they were pretty sure that there were “health reasons”.

So that got me wondering if there really was a law that said you can’t use reusable containers at the grocery store or in a restaurant. Long story short, I wrote a letter and got bounced around the government a bit before connecting with Tim Lambert at the Ministry of Healthy Living and Sport who, apparently, is responsible for food safety here in BC.

Turns out that using a reusable container is not actually illegal, or even in the ‘not recommended’ category. . .but it is up to the discretion of the store.

I’m hoping that by sharing Mr. Lambert’s response, we will all be a little better equipped for friendly negotiation next time we get confronted about reusable containers.  (Failing that, I think we should all make official looking ID cards that say “this person has been approved to use their own container and takes full responsibility for any health issues stemming from such use” and practice flashing them at the deli counter.)

. . . There is no provision within the Food Premises Regulation that specifically prohibits the use of reusable containers. Section 12 mandates that an operator must (a) protect food from contamination; and, (b) store, handle, prepare, display, and dispense food in a sanitary manner.  Some food premises may allow or even encourage the use of reusable containers for environmental benefits or cost-saving potential. However, some may interpret the regulation in such a way that reusable containers prevent operators from keeping food and the premise sanitary.  Some opportunity for cross contamination exists, such as with grocery store delis that place containers on weighing scales or restaurants bringing containers into the kitchen area, which is probably why some food premises may interpret the regulation to prohibit this type of activity.

I agree that reducing packaging is an important environmental concern and encourage the use of reusable items where their use does not create public health concerns.  Although a food premises’ policy will be informed by their interpretation of the legislation, I would encourage you to speak with the operators of the food premises you frequent and try to reach a solution. You may wish to share a copy of this email with them.

I appreciate the opportunity to respond to your concerns.

Yours truly,

Tim Lambert
Executive Director
Health Protection”

(image: http://www.innate-gear.com/)

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