Purchase with Purpose

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There is a fine line between conservation and hoarding.  Seeing value in so many things can lead to not throwing items away.  To be completely honest – despite being a Virgo – I am not very tidy.  My older Sister (by only 22 months) has been a role model to me ever since I can remember.  She has been there for me in one way or another for decades and I am so grateful for our commitment to each other.  Luckily one of her expertise and hobbies is Clutter Crackdown and I was her guinea pig.

It took a long time for what she was saying to sink in, however, over the years her voice (echoed by my mother’s) finally makes sense.  I am finding liberation and enjoyment in getting organized and tidying up my life (and possessions).

Growing up we go through so many stages.  If we have the option, living with family helps in times of transition and for me, it’s been one big contribution allowing me to travel for extended periods of time.  The only thing is that along the way you accumulate stuff and if you don’t let go – it piles up.

Storage containers are one way to deal with the accumulation of your material life.  The self-storage industry growth has mimicked the increased consumption in North America and the result of this continuous consumption has driven the need for storage space.  Whether it be to store the overflow of possessions or to find a temporary space for your mobile assets as you downgrade from the biggest asset you likely own (or owe on) your home.

Although there is some ease of mind to not feel alone on an issue – I am a firm believer that it’s not about what they are doing, it’s about what I am doing.  And right now, that’s where my focus is.  Having lived in several different spaces and places since I first went away to university almost 15 years ago, I would get into a bit of a habit of leaving behind the phases of my life.  In the basement, my bedroom, the bathroom, the garage – I’ve got stuff.  And of course, owning a business can easily equate to another “person’s worth of stuff” to take care of.  You got it.  Beads, bracelets, string, wire, promotional materials, last year’s display, packaging – it all adds up!

I’m a grassroots kind of girl and so it occurred to me – start in the basement – from the ground up.  Makes perfect sense too, the basement often contains what you use the least.  So I went on a mission one Saturday with my Clutter Crackdown Coach and she whipped me into shape!  A half hour with her is like five hours on my own.  I think her secret is that she detaches herself from the belongings.  A little tough love goes a long way and just like that we’ve taken it to the next level.

Amongst the things I held onto was a book my sister bought me a few years ago for Christmas when I said I didn’t need/want anything.  It’s called Scroogenomics – Why you shouldn’t buy presents for the holidays by Economist Joel Waldfogel.

This opened a whole new door of thoughts for me as I explore the topic of conscious consumption and how it relates to sustainability.  Another perspective on the same issue of wasted resources and overindulgence.  Although I do not agree with the notion that you shouldn’t buy presents for the holidays, I do believe that if we buy something (for ourselves or others) we should do it with purpose and to consider quality over quantity.

It’s quite inspiring in fact to seek out products that satisfy us longer than a cheap thrill. Investing in items that are not made to be disposed of, but instead useful, meaningful and ethical.  It’s customary to give and exchange gifts over the holiday, but let’s be honest with ourselves; a little extra thought and consideration can make a positive impact on the triple bottom line.

That’s what I am going after – the good stuff.  As luck would have it, many of the retailers I collaborate with are in the business of sourcing out products that go beyond being things.  So there I was one afternoon meeting with Candy Ashbee of Presentations where I carry a selection of Handmade and Fair Trade products and I got distracted by the cute puppets she had on display. With a nephew celebrating his first Christmas, I’m compelled to buy him gifts. I’d like to buy him something fun, creative that doesn’t require batteries and didn’t leave a big footprint from production and packaging. There were two options, the “readymade” or the “Be the Maker”.  The latter of the two was more my style and an opportunity to add more meaning to the gift, so I bought it.

Cate & Levi have come up with fabulous products that bring together creativity, sustainability, and quality.  In my opinion, it’s a win-win situation.  I purchased a gift with purpose that is low impact on the environment while supporting a local business that supports the community.  In addition to carrying great products (sure I’m a bit biased), Candy participates in local fundraising initiatives like the Kaunis Giving Back Ornaments and the Shopping Evening to Benefit Pelham Cares coming up on Thursday, December 4th.

This past year I have met some amazing women who have voiced their desire to give back to the community. In fact, one of their business goals and ambitions for success is to be able to help others more and more as they grow. Here in Niagara (much like in many parts of the world), entrepreneurs are thinking outside the box and finding ways to build businesses that empower the communities in which they operate.

So this holiday season when you think about the list of gifts you need to buy, consider some incredible advice from Elena of Winestains & follow her 5H Code of Holiday (and year-round) Giving. You’ll probably find the code useful when purchasing for yourself too!



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Leah Feor

Leah Feor is the owner of Simply Sustainable, a small business that has evolved from a fair trade mobile shop to a strategic consulting firm serving entrepreneurs with a social or environmental vision. Balancing her clients’ Triple Bottom Line – people, planet, profit – is Leah’s utmost goal, and is supported by her background in accounting and environmental management.

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