Archive for December, 2014

Knowing is Half the Battle (at least that is what G.I. Joe told me)

In a previous article I talked about HoboWorks, a Vancouver based company that is turning trash into treasures!  They take wood that people throw away and turn them into artisan storage bins, wine holders and lap top cases! Definitely worth taking a look! It got me thinking about the zeitgeist that exists to make companies like HoboWorks viable. Especially when you compare it and to the 1960s bottle brick. Take a look at the article “When Heineken Bottles Were Square” posted on It’s an overview of the beginnings and history of the square bottle. To sum it up:

In 1960, Freddy Heineken took a trip to the island of Curacao in the Caribbean Sea and discovered that he could barely walk 15 feet on the beach without stepping on a littered Heineken bottle. He was alarmed by two things: First, the incredible amount of waste that his product was creating due to the region’s lack of infrastructure to collect the bottles for reuse. Second, the dearth of proper building materials available to those living in the impoverished communities he visited. So he thought up an idea that might solve both of these problems: A brick that holds beer.

There is a lot more to the story, but at the end of the day, his efforts were applauded and recognized for being ethically and environmentally ahead of their time, but the brick bottle never took off… Why not? Zeitgiest…?

In the early ‘60s, Environmentalism was burgeoning, families were keeping up with the Joneses, the sexual revolution was sauntering on to the scene and TV was rare, black and white and filled with games show, not the barrage of full colour, overwhelming, in your face photos and stories of the social, economical and environmental bleakness faced by modern man.

Skip ahead to 2014, the awareness of our reality is unavoidable, we all know what the outcome is and the consequences are if we don’t make conscious choices to do better. That awareness leads to a completely different zeitgeist that encourages individuals to make better choices and take responsibility for themselves and their footprints.

G.I. Joe told me that knowing is half the battle. Knowing/awareness allows us to consciously make good choices like recycling, reducing, reusing, buying and eating local, spending our dollars to support local artists who use recycled goods and much more. Making good choices becomes a perpetuating cycle of increased awareness encouraging you to make better choices, and the your better choice leading to increased awareness of the products, services, ideals and option for other people who may not be quite up to speed. And so the zeitgeist grows and so, one reclaimed piece of art at a time, the world progresses.

In the 60s, Environmentalists were depicted as radical, extreme and were generally lumped in with any "leftist" movement and not taken seriously.

In the 60s, Environmentalists were depicted as radical, extreme and were generally lumped in with any “leftist” movement and not taken seriously.

Today, environmentalists are everywhere, no longer depicted as radicals and outsiders!

Today, environmentalists are everywhere, no longer depicted as radicals and outsiders!


Leave a Comment

To Wrap or not to wrap… that is the question.

I know I am not the first to tell you, and I certainly WON’T be the last to tell you that Christmas is coming! All the stores are stocked, the radio stations are playing less commercial holiday tunes in an attempt to lull you into the inevitable acceptance of the oncoming barrage of Jingle Bells and Joy to the World that will assault you non-stop around the 15th of December, and heck, even snow is falling. There is no denying it; you are staring down the barrel of the holiday season.

Assuming you have picked the gift that says exactly what you want, no NEED it to say, and have paid the right price for it, it’s time to wrap it up and stash it until the big day. I don’t know about you, but as I wonder the festive aisles of shops hocking pretty paper and ribbons, gift bags with holograms and gift tags so intricate that they themselves are works of art, I start to wonder if the old adage “”it’s not what is outside, but what is inside that counts” was still true. Maybe, we are getting so “in” to the commercial elements of gift giving that the darn gift is irrelevant as long as the wrapping looks like it was done by Martha Stewart with high end reflective craft paper and bows only a skilled artisan should know about…

With a bit of a chuckle and a sigh, I decided then and there that I wasn’t going to “buy in”. I am already making an effort to buy less this year, so why not go a little further and take the recycle, reuse and reduce values I hold so dear to the next level. I spent a really short amount of time researching some ideas on the internet, if you too would like to use what you have around the house to present your thoughtful treasures to your loved ones, click on some of the links to get your creative and green juices flowing!

Leave a Comment

Do Your Kids a Favour – Give Them LESS!

Little Sally opens the gift you bought her, gives it a cursory glance, chucks it into the booty pile and starts forging for more… Embarrassed, parents look at you pleading for understanding and say “my kids just get so overwhelmed during the holidays” or “It’s so strange, Sally is usually such a grateful and appreciative child”.

I always return the pleading looks with a kind and understanding smile and nod of agreement. We’ve all been there, the deck stacked against us with our best intentions on one side and consumerisms best effort on the other. Many parents today are trying so desperately to give their children the best start and to make sure they feel loved and valued. Sadly, many of us have little time, and already feel guilty about our parenting efforts. It’s the perfect storm for major retailers to convince us that love and success are measurable and can be purchased for a low low price this holiday season!

As the holiday’s near, I began to reflect on what is important and what we want our children our take away from this experience. As a loving parent we only need to give the best care and love we can. Anything above and beyond that is an extra that they can live without. Instead of spending money trying to prove your love with toys, and then spending sleepless nights worrying about how to pay off credit card bills, try spending time teaching your kids how to build a new bird house like your dad taught you. Then get a good nights sleep, get up early the next morning to show them how to bake grandma’s famous buttermilk waffles!

Your kids will appreciate it more and remember it more fondly and clearly then they ever remember the ninja turtle or Polly play set, and you can rest easy knowing you gave them the gift of knowing what they are worth to you – which is everything.

Written by Rebecca Fox (part of our Fresh Start Team)

If you are tired of seeing this, try giving LESS!

If you are tired of seeing this, try giving LESS!

Leave a Comment

Buy Less and Buy Local

Working in the Junk Removal industry has taught me to de-clutter my own life. I am hyper-aware of what I need, and what will likely be gratifying only for a moment and then shunted off to the recycling plant. I work really hard to keep my “stuff” to a minimum – but gift giving is a challenge.

Historically speaking, giving someone a gift reflects your thoughts or feelings about that relationship/person. However, consumerism has managed to convince us to tie a dollar figure to the whole process! I posit that we all have dollar values in mind when thinking about gift giving whether you intend to or not. Christmas presents for sisters second husband, $20, Christmas present for only niece who you are super close with, $50. You may find your niece the perfect gift for $30, but my money says you buy extra “stuff” to bring the total up to your mentally associated “right price”.

The psychology around gift giving is huge and complex, so this year I have determined to buy less and buy what reflects my ideals, and the person I am buying for. I recently read an article in The Vancouver Sun about HoboWorks, a local business run by two brothers who turn trash into treasures. I was perusing the website, saw a great gift idea for my friend and thought – that’s perfect, reusable, local, made from recycled materials! One down – more to go. With a little more research I discovered just how many options are out there to give without buying stuff!

  • Have an avid bike rider in the family? Skip the new pair of bike shorts or that latest water bottle, and purchase a tune-up from the local bike shop!
  • Can’t stand to give your nephew another video game? Try setting up a special day, just the two of you to go to the planetarium or have an ice cream eating contest!
  • Are your parents lamenting about all the clutter in the attic or garage? Call Fresh Start Recycling and Disposal, we do gift certificates, and I guarantee your parents will appreciate the help more then another inspirational mug of calendar of your cuties!

These are just some ideas to help navigate through the holidays while staying true to yourself and your ideals. But at the end of the day, if you end up with more stuff than you bargained for – call Fresh Start, we can donate what you don’t need to those who need it, recycle what we can and get rid of the rest.



Leave a Comment