In 2014, I made a New Year’s resolution to buy nothing new. It actually didn’t go too badly, in the sense that I was able to substitute a lot of disposable personal products like toilet paper (for ‘going #1’, for those of us who sit down to pee) and tampons with reusable alternatives. In 2015, my resolution was to try new things to help me take my goal of buying less even further. It helps to be a resident of Vancouver, Canada, where the DIY culture is pretty strong. I experimented with some recipes and went on some DIY adventures, and stumbled across a lot of cool resources along the way.
I was able to avoid buying new toiletries by making home made balms, salves, lotion bars, deodorant, lip balm, and a few other things. I’ll share my recipes for all of those.
I’ve pretty much always preferred shopping for clothing and household items at thrift stores, so that part was a cinch. I NEVER buy brand new clothes because of the high cost to me, and the ecological and social impacts of the conventional fashion industry, although I do typically buy underpants and some socks new (just not in 2014! I did have to mend a couple pairs of holy drawers though…). A goal of mine is to become a proficient sewer (right now I can only mend by hand and I’m fairly useless at a machine) so that I can try sewing my own underwear. More on that later!
I’m not a very handy person at all, but I have repaired (hammer and nails are about as high-tech as I’m comfortable with when it comes to tools) and even ‘built’ (ahem…stuck together with duct tape) some fairly sad pieces of furniture including a broken dresser and a makeshift bookshelf made of cardboard. But they are functional!! So there! Anyway I intend to get handier…because honestly, stuff breaks. Especially with me around, knocking crap over. I want to make it a habit to visit repair cafes.
I did buy plenty of new ‘perishables’ in 2014 (to be honest I wouldn’t have lasted long otherwise!)…that is, food and drink. However, I still tried to replace a few store-bought things with foraged things and culls from nearby farms (I was very lucky to live near UBC Farm), and I want to get better at identifying local edible plants – learning from local experts is a good way to go, although the internet helps a lot too. I’ve had a veggie garden and some herbs in the past, when my cool landlord let me tear up part of the lawn. Currently, I’m growing in containers indoors and building gardening skills at a community garden plot run by the local food bank, as – like most people I know – I am renting and do not have access to ‘my own’ outdoor growing space. I’m sure I could also guerrilla garden if I were really committed but I guess I’m not that hardcore yet. My goal is to learn more about finding and growing food and I’ll share that with you as I go.
To cut down on buying new packaging (like food and beverage with excess packaging), I also tried making some things from scratch instead of store-bought, including homemade soy milk, which is cheap to make, tastes nothing like the stuff you buy, and is surprisingly yummy, nutty and naturally slightly sweet if you do it right (although if you do it wrong, it tastes like socks, I won’t lie). I’m not somebody who has sworn off soy btw, and I do think it can be part of a healthy diet in moderation.
…I like moderation; it’s a great excuse for when self-restraint fails. I’m a reformed or relapsed vegetarian (depending on who you ask) so soy has been an occasional part of my diet for a long time, but it’s certainly not the only way to get protein, for goodness sake.
Anyway, Looking forward to sharing with you!