Saturday, April 12, 2008

Buy Nothing Challenge: Sunday Confessions (Part 2)

As Crunchy would say, "Forgive me, people, for I have spent." It has been 13 days since I signed on for the Buy Nothing Challenge and I continue to struggle not to consume.

First, a plea: my kid's birthday is coming up, so if you have eco-friendly ideas for party favors that I can make with the supplies in my house (think a closet-full of random art supplies and scavenged materials befitting a former teacher) I am all ears. I signed up for this challenge with the full awareness that I would be trying to throw a five year-old birthday party without any consumption and I am still game to try.

This week's recap:

Stuff I wanted to buy and didn't:

  • I really wanted to go to the beauty salon for any number of reasons. No big loss. I am a ponytail type anyhow.

  • I also (corollary thought) wanted to buy a pair of hair scissors to cut my daughter's bangs for her (and stop us from going to the hair salon for her which she'd like to do weekly, if given the option). A good friend offered to lend me some already, so it's a convenience thing. How lazy am I that I don't want to borrow them once a month? Need to do it and stop whining.

  • I wanted to buy a birthday present for my daughter's little friend who's celebrating today. When I already had a great gift in the house. Doh! Glad the challenge stopped me from spending and consuming needlessly.

  • I'm hankering to buy some compost and organic soil amendments (not to mention delectable little seedlings) for our community garden plot. There is an informal plant swap coming up, though! I am awash in aloe plants so let's hope my wampum will go forth and return me some tomato plants.

  • A digital camera. I've been eyeing SLR digital cameras for over a year now. Anyone love theirs (for May purchase, of course)?

Mea Culpa:
  • My husband and I went out to a really delightful dinner complete with two frosty cocktails -- and I certainly in no way regretted my Saigon Cinnamon Sugar Dusted Donuts. But I'm sad about my delightful pineapple halibut. Some halibut is sustainably fished and some is not (thanks to my favorite fish guide, the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch Program, which cross-references food safety concerns like mercury contamination with sustainability issues). I dunno which the restaurant had 'cause I didn't have the info for FishPhone at my fingertips while I ordered. Should have texted for the info! Because Atlantic halibut's overfished and Pacific halibut gets a green light. Which means that either way I made a bad choice. Overfished if local and if sustainable? Shipped across the country. Sigh.

  • Then the chocolate dessert: definitely not labeled as fair trade chocolate, although I rationalized by guessing that a shmancy place would use highbrow chocolate, which is sourced from individual farmers and therefore not awash in indentured child labor. Either way, I should have asked about both the fish and chocolate, if just to raise the issues with the chef. Enviro redemption? My plate was scraped so clean there was no dilemma about packaging waste for the nonexistent leftovers.

  • Two pictures of CBoy for his passport (no, we are not going anywhere, I just want to get one in case someday we win the lottery and take a carbon-neutral vacation to Costa Rica).

  • The sheer mention of the book Calder's Circus in last Sunday's confession sparked not one but two purchases of said used book. One, by a concerned grandmother for her 16 month old grandson, cause he might want to see it any day now and have a sudden rush of reading comprehension. (It came! Thanks, Mom!) ...the other, a purchase by a loyal reader immediately after reading my description of said book. Sigh. At least they were both used copies....

  • A tank of gas. Ergghhhh. For all the reasons you'd have.


Planning and time are essential. If I'm going to consume (be it restaurant food or material goods) I need to choose carefully and weigh off relevant manufacturing and sourcing issues. I need to do my homework ahead of time and have resources with me when I'm out and about. I think I need to program FishPhone into my cellphone, and I need to state my concerns while I am purchasing goods and services (or choosing not to) so my wallet speaks. I'm going to go email the restaurant now. And all of my bibliophile friends? We need to start hitting up local used booksales and online bookswapping services. And each other. The book buying desire runs deep.


Going Crunchy said...

When I do a "home" party I always have a craft or two as an activity that we do. You could let the kids decorate their own "thank you" bag and put a piece or two of a goody and a take-home craft project to do.

For Luke's birthday, I gave away recycled paperback kid books. I brought a range to pick from and put them in a nice display. Each child picked a books. These were ones that I bought from the Friends of the Library for 25 cents each, and I picked ones in pristine condition. Parents were so happy to get a book as a "thanks for coming" gift.

Make paper mache planting cups days before and then have kids decorate their cups at the party. Let them plant a seed!

MamaBird said...

Thanks *so* much, Going Crunchy! I love these ideas...the used books and paper mache planting cups are definitely going on the list!

Gray Matters said...

We had a nice dinner out with friends - I can't tell you the last time I actually sat down in a nice restaurant and had someone wait on me - it was delightful and I have no regrets!

One birthday year I had the kids make frames - we used craft sticks, foam board, pom poms, basically cleaned out the supplies. I took a picture of each guest with the birthday boy - printed them out and mailed a copy with the thank you card. I was lucky because we already had all the supplies so I didn't spend any money.

MamaBird said...

Thanks so much, Gray Matters -- frames are a perfect idea - and we have *lots* of craft sticks! Glad you got to go out to dinner and be waited on - you so deserve it.

Lucy Brindley said...

We have a great activity to make your own party bags from newspaper - the kids love it and it solves the issue about buying party bags! Heres how you go it:

Perhaps you could also make pots from newspaper, and get the children to plant a sunflower seed, which they then take away in their hand made recycled newspaper party bag!

Good luck!
Lucy Brindley

MamaBird said...

Lucy, I *love* the bag-making link! And I've been mulling paper-mache vs newspaper pots, either way I'll make them. My DD would love to plant sunflowers! Keep the ideas coming, folks! Will do a recap for all...

Nicole said...

good for you!

as far as parties- 'old school' parties are back in- I'm not kidding.

treasure hunts- find leaves, flowers, etc.
and you could make a big pin the tail on the donkey :)

MamaBird said...

Thanks Nicole, I was of course racking my brain thinking of stuff for the treasure hunt when -as you pointed out- there are cool flowers and leaves to be 'found' all over the park. Awesome! And I think old school games all the way.... now wish for good weather for us.

lamamanaturale said...

My son is having his first birthday soon and we are going as eco-friendly as possible...I'm planning a few activities as there will be older kiddos there...
Make your own bubble using soap and water- trick to get the bubbles to last alum or glycerin-
Also, make your own play dough- there are a ton of recipes online- but my favorite one is the potato prints activity- cut out shapes using russet potatos and dip in fabric paint and onto a blank t-shirt! The kids can create, create create!!

Melanie said...

Late chiming in here, but I am a big fan of the completely edible favor bag. I usually do a really fancy, decorated sugar cookie.

I've also started using the little produce-sized Eco-Bags for all my normal gift-bag-type needs.