In 1990, my environmental awareness was motivated by fear for my childs’ future global home and playground. That year the New Year headlines focused on the environmental trash problems.

Living in a small farming community in southwestern Ontario, environmental values such as mine were a rarity. I started saving recyclable garbage first to reuse in art projects with preschool and school aged children. Then word travelled about a small recycling effort on the outskirts of town. The solidarity I felt at this makeshift depot was a silent and a solitary task. The sight of the amount of potential reusable or useless packaging was thought provoking and concerning since the local waste disposal was not economically geared to recycling. I stuck to my values and knew that society first has to get uncomfortable with ideas and needs concrete evidence before making the choice to change behaviours.

One thing I knew I could control was the Styrofoam used in my potential purchases. It was easy to boycott MacDonald’s hamburgers contained in Styrofoam boxes. My young son and I unwrapped vegetables on Styrofoam trays in the grocery stores. I spoke out at the Nursery School Board Meeting about the use of Styrofoam cups used at snack time. It challenged me to make constant decisions when purchasing products.


It is known that personal action is merely a drop in the bucket. It takes society putting social pressure on corporate business to entrepreneurships to adapt and create new ways in our economy’s’ supply of basic needs, recreation and comforts.

So how far have we come personally or as a North American society in 20 years? In 2009, I see we still need to focus on the impact of our consumer behaviour. We buy stuff, throw it out, then buy stuff, and throw it out.

The Story of Stuff

Have you ever visited a Garbage Dump just to notice what is there?

A dump is literally an archaeological deposit recording the culture of the society. This spring I made a visit to my local dump. Through the eye of my camera, I captured sombre looking photos. Finally I ended up shooting mainly interesting abstract patterns within the recyclable metal heap which constisted of everything from broken stoves to childrens bicycles.

I am far more excited about Artist Chris Jordan who really captures the essence of STUFF. So therefore I would much rather refer you to his Art as he has mastered the art of making garbage visually interesting. Chris expresses hope for his photographs to stimulate a kind of cultural self-inquiry into our pervasive consumerism.

The link to his collection of fascinating photographic art


"A 'plastic soup' of waste floating in the Pacific Ocean is growing at an alarming rate and now covers an area twice the size of the continental United States, scientists have said. The vast expanse of debris - in effect the world's largest rubbish dump - is held in place by swirling underwater currents. This drifting "soup" stretches from about 500 nautical miles off the Californian coast, across the northern Pacific, past Hawaii and almost as far as Japan.

Charles Moore, an American oceanographer who discovered the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch" or "trash vortex", believes that about 100 million tons of flotsam are circulating in the region. Marcus Eriksen, a research director of the US-based Algalita Marine Research Foundation, which Mr Moore founded, said yesterday: "The original idea that people had was that it was an island of plastic garbage that you could almost walk on. It is not quite like that. It is almost like a plastic soup. It is endless for an area that is maybe twice the e size as continental United States."
-Published on Tuesday, February 5, 2008 by The Independent/UK -The World's Rubbish Dump: A Garbage Tip That Stretches From Hawaii to Japan' by Kathy Marks and Daniel Howden

Human Impact: Synthetic Sea "Plastic In The Open Ocean"



I have held a strong admiration for Children’s Entertainer and Child Advocate, Raffi Cavoukian since 1990 when I needed to create an Early Childhood Curriculum as a course requirement. It was Raffi’s music from ‘Evergreen Everblue that kept me focused on my choice of assignment and deepened my passion for conscious environmental awareness.

The core value at the heart of Raffi’s musical career and child honouring has been respect for the child as a whole person. He does not accept offers to do commercial endorsements believing it is wrong to use ones popularity to sell products to a vulnerable audience.

Raffi poses the question,

“Do we lack the imagination to conceive of a society that respects its young, one that would therefore embrace an honourable protocol for commerce?

Raffi stated in his news article in 200o titled,

Yes, We Have No Advertising’
"We live in a time that many of the world's brightest minds regard as "condition critical" for the Earth and the life-support systems that sustain us. Now is the hour to put children first, to safeguard their lives (and ours) by creating a new code for commerce, and to fundamentally redesign relations between society's public and private sectors. It's a time for corporate humility and compassion. Corporate shareholders and CEOs must realize that all of us hold shares in a much greater venture -- our collective future on Earth -- and that the economic values we choose to support will largely determine the legacy we leave for generations to come. "
- The Globe and Mail Toronto, Ont--Friday, June 9, 2000

The following link to Raffi’s site contains two songs that speak to my heart from a Sustainability and Humanitarian perspective, since the news currently focuses on the War in Gaza with photos of injured children and adults as well injury to the environment . How can this not affect our connection to home, the land and environment?


What has come to light is that ‘fear based’ motivation has only led to society toward pointing the finger elsewhere, raising anxieties that end up in exhausting indifferences, apathy and general disconnection from nature itself. When we have a healthy attachment/connection to our homes, communities, land and country, we as a society are more likely to make choices based on love, respect, and attachment for our environments.

Ecophilospher, Joanna Macy reminds us that when times are dark and filled with suffering and uncertainty, it is natural to feel the trauma of the world. So do not be afraid of our anguish, or our anger or fear, as these feelings come from the depth of our caring. Remember we are all interconnected and to suffer with, is the literal meaning of compassion. Denial of these emotions lead to apathy and disempowerment.
~Breathe ~

So back to a simple action in daily life to reduce consumption as a consumer ...what can I do?

For years, I have avoided my cloth grocery bags. In 2008 I discovered how much easier it is with cloth bags to pack my groceries into the car and house. Habits die-hard ...sometimes!
This year I will consciously decide how much ‘packaging’ I will ’buy into’. So now, if I need to enter a department store, I will tie my cloth bag to my purse and search for products with minimal packaging.

This is my 2009 challenge. Care to join me?

I also want to mention a story that was on the front page of my city newspaper this morning. Called ‘A Year of Nothing New’ and it highlights Amber Westfall’s Blog named, ‘Unstuffed’. Amber just spent the past year blogging about her challenge to not to buy anything new a whole year – nothing new, except for necessities, with some used items allowed.

Check out her challenges and success! You may find some ideas to inspire you!


  1. Sherry, your blog is such a good resource. I am particularly happy to see the story of stuff here. It's a powerful clip and I had forgotten the name. Now I will send your blog on to friends who I know will be interested.
    Many blessing for a year of nature becoming healthier, happier and even more beautiful because you are in it.

  2. Happy New year Sherry.It was so nice to meet you at Janets, Creative peoples night.Your Blog is absolutely wonderful.The world is an easy place to be in, with amazing people like you.Now I'm going to read and listen to more of this wonderful site.Blessed Be

  3. Thanks Susanne and Janet! I love hanging out with creative people like you!!

  4. I'm very glad I found your blog, Sherry. I love the title and was delighted to find Richard Louv's book on your book list.

    I will definitely be back for a longer stay when I have more time.

  5. I agree--great resources. Thanks for sharing! (I came upon this blog through Green Phone Booth.)