Monday, April 16, 2012

Hideous, tent-like gold raincoat & other lovelies

Ah yes, my hideous, tent-like gold raincoat (even I don't dare model it for you). Purchased last fall at the second-hand store as a "work around the farm" windbreaker/raincoat. In the same excursion I purchased the following:
1 pair of woolen "old man" pants for fall/winter outside work
1 set of suspenders to keep said pants up
1 golden rain coat
1 beige/oatmeal (yeck) down-filled vest for around the house
1 plaid work shirt
I bought this stuff at the onset of winter in the recognition that while I have (admittedly) a lot of performance apparel-type stuff, I don't really have a lot of muck-about stuff (particular winter warmth) gear. I bought a lot of these things at the second-hand store after considering purchasing many of their new & fancy versions (ie - gore-tex this and thats). I decided that the best things to have for mucking about were things that I wouldn't mind parting with. This was the same philosophy that guided me in my first year of treeplanting, I didn't know what gear would work for me, so I brought a lot of second-hand/used clothing that could get trashed (and it did!!!). This decision, as I reflect upon it now, was kind of a precursor to this journey of no-purchasing (or minimal purchasing I suppose, its become).
So back to this whole, "stuff I could part with" concept. When I first bought all these items they were the kind of ugly, drab things that you find in the second-hand store (not the wonderful gems that have people gasping). I thought I could live without them because they weren't outstandingly beautiful or particularly fashionable (ok, not fashionable at all). But, now I barely go a day without wearing one or all of them. They are infinitely useful and are (as you may guess) more relevant to my everyday life that my designer what-nots. My back-up down vest for example is part of my daily uniform. Its beige, I burned/melted a hole in the front upon which i sewed a "Scottish Power" patch. I'm not Scottish, its just what we had around the house. I wear my back-up more than my fancy white brand name vest.

The white one, after all, is my town vest. My beige one is used for cooking, feeding chickens, running outside, working in the greenhouse and the occasional trip over to the in-laws or the village pub/corner store. My other favourite vest these days (apparently I have a thing for vests) is my black & purple circa 1995 fleece vest from high school because the beige one is getting a little too warm for some of the spring-like weather we've been having here, but for the morning chicken-feeding and/or work in the greenhouse or barn...its perfect! one of the best reasons for my affinity to the vest is that they keep your core toasty without all the bulk and they have zip pockets to keep all my crap in (usually my iPhone & lip balm). Also, when washing the dishes or cooking you don't end up with your sleeves in everything (like you do with a sweater), if you're wearing a vest. I guess the old adage, "don't judge a book by its cover" (although I totally do), applies to my less-then-enthusiastic attitude about my new essential garments. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

My favourite F words

Feminism & Farming! This is a must-read, from Bitch magazine's blog.

Thanks to my good friend M for connecting me with this article about ecofeminism, farming and their twin anti-capitalist interests.
This is one of the best articles I've read in a very long time. I keep reading it over and over and feeling good about my choices. I thought about it in the greenhouse as i potted up sprouts and while I was gathering eggs from my laying hens today.
Sometimes a little external validation is a-okay!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


It's been awhile since I posted, but I haven't abandoned ship - I've been trying to figure out where to go from here. With the exception of my trip, I think my less-consumptive habits have become just that.
So this post I'm going to focus on the input and ideas (albeit paraphrased) of others.
One of my first pieces of encouragement in the form of an informative video came from D. The story of stuff was great - it went straight for my consumer conscious sensibilities and introduced me to the term "planned obsolescence". We often marvel, that our teeny village in the boreal forest had all the stuff that any farmer and farmer would need. One of those services was a cobbler - a person who fixes shoes once they're broken. Think about that - someone who fixes shoes, which means your shoes are able to be fixed and not just throw-aways. I remember commercial cobblers in the mall when I was a kid, but they are long gone. So are high-quality, locally-made products made by craft and tradespeople. It makes me sad really, to think that this sustainable lifestyle many of us are seeking was more easily attained (in one sense) when our communities were smaller. At least more logical - our modern societies are designed to be convenient for urban dwellers, the hubs, but not for rural living like they would have been when our society had more of an agrarian focus. Fewer choices of course, but isn't that one of the great myths of capitalism? Places like Wal Mart and shopping malls don't really give us choice, they just distract us from what is really important.
Second piece of advice came from J, who upon discovering my quest and my fall from grace in NYC comforted me by letting me know she'd have done the same thing. More eloquently put she said that she looks always purchases things as a memento of a trip and that to surround oneself with beautiful things does bring a certain level of pleasure, especially in the form of art.
N recently sent me a link on FB about an artist who's minimalist exhibit of the things she saved from her life as a statement about our so-called need for stuff.
So it seems that I'm in good company on my quest. Keep that advice coming - mindlessly purchasing has become such a huge part of all of our lives, in one way or another, the idea of not doing so is intriguing, in the least, for all of us.