27 March 2009

Anyone up for bringing down the economy?

The Mountain Equipment Coop catalogue arrived this week. MEC is a member owned Canadian cooperative and they do all the right things for sourcing ethical suppliers, reducing waste and being all round good corporate citizens. But their catalogue is, of course, filled with stuff. I often get excited about something I see in the catalogue. Usually it's some kind of kayaking gear or high tech clothing, but this year it was a sidebar article that really caught my attention.

On page 79, in the outdoor athletic clothing section, is an article about a couple who have pledged not to buy any stuff for a year. They aren't buying clothing, DVDs, running shoes, duct tape, saran wrap or anything other than food and beverages and basic personal hygiene products, and only in recyclable containers. They call it the Clean Bin Project and they have a blog where they're documenting the whole thing.

Their project has a lot of appeal to me as someone who rails on about overconsumption while consuming at a pretty normal rate. I know the enthusiasm for this kind of project would be pretty low at my house, but perhaps there is someone out there who would take on a challenge like this with me? For a month if not a year? The Clean Bin folks state that they're "not unemployed hippies trying to collapse the North American economy..." but that's taking all the fun out of it. I'd like to call my challenge The Collapsing the North American Economy Because the Planet Can't Take It Anymore Project, but I'm open to suggestions.

Does this spark anyone else's imagination? If so, why not leave a comment and we can hash out the details. If not, I think there may be a vacancy in the marketing department over at MEC.


  1. This would be tough! Does it count for used items? We have been sourcing what we need used as much as possible.

  2. The Clean Bin folks allow accepting free used stuff, but not buying it, although I don't know why they distinguish between the two from a waste reduction perspective. For the purposes of bringing down the economy, I could see not buying something from within the formal economy ie Value Village, but allowing a purchase of something from an ordinary person at a garage sale or Craigslist.

    On the other hand, I remembered why I don't do these sorts of challenges - and there are plenty of them out there: from cloth toilet paper to reducing water use by 90% and on and on - I don't like following arbitrary rules. But neither does anyone else, and here we are.



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