Category Archives: gifts

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



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Day 187: Food and Hygiene for Christmas


tin can star ornaments

Ask anyone and they will tell you that the highlight of their holidays is spending time with family and friends. We all say that holidays really should be about time spent not mostarsney spent, but then, when it comes down to it, we all go and blow wads of cash on an abundance of gifts, mainly material goods.  Why is there such a disconnect between what people say they believe and what they do?

I’m no different.  It feels wrong not to give anything to my loved ones at Christmas.  Luckily with my friends I have compromised and declared a gift truce – we all pitch in for the food bank instead of doing personal exchanges.  But with family, it’s different.

This Christmas, instead of declaring a moratorium on gift giving, we decided to keeping giving gifts, but to try to stick to the rules of the Clean Bin Project: give experiences or consumables or make things from what we already have. Continue reading


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Day 172: Christmas a Little Early

treeWe had our first Christmas of the year last weekend.

It’s a little early I know, but Grant’s brother’s family is going to Hawaii over the holidays, so we decided to get together when we could.

I had to laugh when, dutifully sticking with the idea of giving experiences instead of  “stuff”, we gave them a gift certificate for a nearby restaurant on Commercial Drive, and they gave us a gift certificate (in the same amount no less) also for a restaurant  on Commercial Drive. Continue reading


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Day 168: Christmas Re-Gifting

My Mom organizes a great re-gifting every Christmas at the school she teaches at.  All the kids bring in stuff from home (with the permission of their parents) that they don’t use any more.  It can be anything from toys to jewelery to kitchenware as long as it’s in new or “gently used” condition.  They collect thousands of items.

Then they have a Christmas sale in the gym.  Each child brings a list of 4 people they are allowed to shop for, and everything is on sale for less than $4.  They get to pick out special surprise gifts for their siblings or parents and practice their money management skills at the same time. Continue reading

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Day 129: Money We Can’t Spend

sweetspotsI’m tooting my own horn a bit here, but Grant and I have recently become winners.

Contest winners.  We placed second in a national, outdoor video contest through Mountain Equipment Co-op.  For you American readers, MEC is like REI for Canada.  For the rest of the world, MEC is a huge outdoor gear co-op store.  For us, MEC is like paradise -one that we used to shop in probably every other week or so.  That is until we started the Clean Bin Project and became non-consumers.

So the irony of this is that we now have a $1000 gift card to one of our favorite stores, and we can’t spend it!  The further irony is that the ridiculous amount of outdoor gear that we both have was one of the reasons we started this project in the first place.  Seriously, we have 4 tents between 2 people.

In any case, we have another 8 months before we can officially buy “stuff”, so that should give us time to mull over what we think we “need” and what we are merely temporarily drooling over.  One of the items on our radar is a portable solar panel – that’s green right?  They also have a lovely selection of fair trade chocolate.

Anyway, enough horn tooting.  If you want to see the video click here.  It’s a 10 min movie about a ski traverse we did a few years ago.  And in my defence, I am much better on the split board now than I was then.  And also, to give credit where credit is due, Grant is the actual winner because he did most of the filming and all of the editing, but heck, I’m in it. (And yes that’s him up above, back in the shaggy-hair days, actually doing the filming on that very trip)


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Day 114: City of (Consumer) Sin

Yes, I’m in Las Vegas. The land of spectacular and horrifying excess. The place of slot machines and showgirls, high end shopping and outdoor escalators, buffet dinners and bottled water, and spending, spending, spending. It’s not the place where you’d expect to find someone trying to live a consumer-free, waste-free lifestyle, so let me attempt justify it: I’m here for work.

I’m in Las Vegas for a conference, and I’m staying in probably the most luxurious hotel I have ever stepped foot in (not that I stay in a lot of hotels). My bathroom is as large as my kitchen back home– no joke. Outside my window an endless stream of cars heads into the city and downstairs the air conditioned casino is a chorus of slot machines.

The consumer in me is not as tempted to shop as I thought (high end jewelery and tourist knick knacks aren’t my style); however, saying no to free stuff isn’t as easy. Continue reading

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