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GOING GREEN: Can shopping save the world?

Canadian cities and suburbs are filled with shopping malls and for many people spending time at them is a favorite pastime.

Canadian cities and suburbs are filled with shopping malls and for many people spending time at them is a favorite pastime.

Annie Leonard, author of the popular Story of Stuff has created a video, The Story of Change, in which she raises the question "Can Shopping Save the World?" Leonard urges people to dispense with their credit cards, claiming that in order to build a more just, sustainable and fulfilling world, people must make changes.

Does consumerism detract from what is important in life? Can we learn to buy less, to buy only what is necessary and to ensure that what we do buy is durable and eventually recyclable? Isn't it time to put more emphasis on the middle word of the well known jingle "reduce, reuse and recycle."

Recycling is easy, whereas reusing poses a challenge to look at what one owns as treasure that might simply need renewal, as opposed to being "thrown away." How often do people ask themselves, "where is away?" A visit to the landfill is an eye opener in this regard.

In the Amsterdam Journal, I read and was inspired by an article about Dutch citizen and former journalist, Martine Postma, the organizer of Repair Cafés in her country. After giving birth to her second child, Martine started thinking a lot about the environment and especially the cultural and economic benefits of repairing and recycling.

"It's a shame", she said "that the things we throw away are usually not that broken...

"We can't keep handling things the way we do."

As a result of her vision and determination, Martine obtained a sizable government grant with which the Repair Café Foundation was born. What began in just one location has spread to 30 places in the Netherlands.

The project's social benefits are quite appealing as is its ecological missionthe latter creating a strong awareness of what people can reuse rather than throw away. Armed with screwdrivers and sewing machines, volunteers meet over coffee, tea and cookies, and using their various skills repair items (at no cost to recipient). This repair café concept has drawn interest from many countries.

Annie Leonard is to be congratulated for challenging North Americans to rethink their shopping habits and lifestyles.

In addition to examining Leonard's work, do take a look at New Society Publishers website. On it are listed some intriguing resources on the environment and sustainability, some of which are available in Delta libraries.

May you learn and be inspired through reading, through sharing what you learn with others and in so doing be inspired to save the world by shopping less!