Category Archives: consumerism

Day 365: The End!


Can you believe it has been a whole year!  I have all kinds of things on my mind for the last day of our buy-nothing-zero-waste year, but I only have an hour on my lunch break, so I’ll make it quick.

We’re going to have the weigh in tomorrow.  We have borrowed a scale, a pile of cloth napkins, and set of wine glasses, and I’ve been baking a few snacks for guests.  The bins are actually looking neck and neck.

Unfortunately it looks like Rhyannon is flying out of town -her flight got changed by the airline, but I am harboring a secret belief that she is trying to escape embarrassment because Continue reading


Filed under consumerism

Day 301: Oh the Irony

harddriveWe ran out of hard drive space while making our documentary, and, you guessed it, we had to buy a new hard drive.  Two actually, since we double back up everything having learned the hard way that electronics are not infallible.  We’ve had two hard drives fail on us in the past (Western Digital in case you were wondering what the brand names was – and I don’t mind saying that we don’t recommend them). Continue reading


Filed under consumerism

Day 286: White Pants Show Down

not-buying-itGrant is losing the consumer competition. He can site “work exemption” all he wants, but we all know that buying clothing is a definite no no.

Maybe we need a little background first.  Before we started the Clean Bin Project, I actually read a book by Judith Levine called Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping which was, predictably, about a similar project where by she and her husband didn’t buy “stuff” for a year.

I distinctly remember feeling ripped off when I read that they were buying materials for their home renovation, and even more perturbed when Judith went out and bought (horrors) a pair of pants! That’s an immediate fail in my books, and we vowed to be pretty stringent in our own take on the game. Continue reading


Filed under consumerism, slip ups

Day 279: Rubbish Art

noblewebster_trash-shadowA popular idea is that we can reuse our waste in some sort of arts and crafts project, thereby “saving” it from the landfill.  While I realize that this type of thinking is only prolonging the inevitable, I do think that the process of making art from trash can say some pretty interesting things about our culture (and can be beautiful to boot).

I’m not talking about gluing Popsicle sticks onto cardboard here; I’m talking serious art.  Like that by Tim Noble and Sue Webster (yes, I had never heard of these people either, until I read about them over at the Everyday Trash blog.  But one look at their work and you’ll see why I was compelled to share it.)

This piece was created from 6 months worth of the artists’ garbage.  I’m not an art critic, so I’m not going to attempt to articulate how this relates to zero waste, but it does make me think about consumption (and why the heck did they throw out that perfectly good roll of toilet paper there in the front?).

In any case, anyone who can make a pile of garbage look like anything but is pretty cool in my books.  Click here for more pics.


Filed under consumerism

Day 267: Clean Bin in the MEC Catalog

grantjenThe 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).

Hmm, isn’t it funny, you may now be thinking, that a catalog designed to sell material goods, is featuring an article about a project designed not to buy them. . . . Continue reading


Filed under consumerism, media

guest blogger: The Clean Bin sister says RETHINK!

First of all, I should let you know that I by no means follow “the rules” of the Clean Bin Project. I am, however, fairly conscious of the environmental and social impacts of my consumer choices, and fairly concerned about how much garbage I produce. That being said, there are some things I think are more important than packaging, and honestly, some plastic wrapped things I just love too much to give up (such as cheddar cheese and fair trade chocolate mmmmm).

I live in Ottawa, which sadly is miles behind Vancouver as far as recycling goes. We currently have a diversion rate of about 35%. Compare this with Vancouver’s rate of 52%, and Markham at 70%, and you see our capital city is in a bit of a pathetic state. (these stats are a couple years old, but if anything the gap has only widened) Continue reading


Filed under consumerism, recycling

Day 212: Winning and Losing

winnerThey’re running a promotion at the grocery store by my house.  Customers get these little game cards with every purchase, and you peel them open and – surprise! “Try Again”.

Then the garbage bins outside the store get filled with all these little pieces of cardboard until they are completely overflowing, and the ground is littered with “maybe next time” messages.

It’s a useless waste of resources, I know, but I still take the cards – they just hand them to you with the receipt.  It’s just paper afterall.  Then I peeled one open and . . . . . “WINNER!” Continue reading


Filed under consumerism, gifts