A challenge for you

Friday, the biggest retail day of the year, I will be celebrating Buy Nothing Day with my sister.  Since we're both pretty shopaphobic, especially in NYC, this shouldn't be too hard.  We are planning to cook, go for a walk, rollerskate in the park, see some art, perhaps visit a friend who has to work...

Can you buy nothing for a day?  What does this mean? How far does it go?  We won't be able to grow our own food and cook it with homemade implements over a fire.  We'll probably take public transportation at some point.  If we see a show, we'll have to buy the ideas that the powers that be - the gallery system, urban tastemakers, corporate sponsors - have declared are art.   Let me know where you draw the lines, and report back on what you end up doing.  Happy Thanksgiving!


Image courtesy of adbusters.  You can learn about all kinds of actions and ideas they're promoting here.

Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2007 at 09:31PM by Registered CommenterMegan Metcalf | CommentsPost a Comment

The force of habit

These new habits are refusing to get incorporated into my life!  I went to the used bookstore to buy a present for a friend.  Right above the shelf where I located his book, I found a book I've been wanting to read for a while.  I ran through the list in my head: it's used...I'm not broke this month...it's a reasonable price...it's right in front of me...I bought both books, refused the plastic bag, and left the store.  As I walked back to the subway I stopped and almost said DUH! right out loud.  I've had such success with the library this year and the thought did not even occur to me as I was running through my list!  There's a branch two blocks from my office; I've been reserving books online and going to pick them up when they email me.  Like Netflix for books, almost.  I'm not so good on the returning: I've probably paid $10 in library fines since January, but surely I would have spent at least two or three hundred dollars by now if I'd bought every one new.  Maybe next time the library will come to mind first.

Posted on Monday, November 19, 2007 at 09:36PM by Registered CommenterMegan Metcalf in | CommentsPost a Comment


As we head into the holiday season, Public Radio International is presenting a series on American consumption, which includes some of the radio pieces I've linked to on Fix.  I discovered it this morning while listening to a piece on food miles by Marketplace - I will look forward to checking out the rest.  (I think Marketplace's cheerful, ambivalent tone can be a nice antidote sometimes to the doom and gloom of NPR and the BBC.)

The food miles piece reminded me of the resolution - which occurs week after week - to renew my commitment to the food part of this experiment.  And then I realize I haven't been to the grocery store in days or even a week and I won't be available to go to the grocery store and back to my apartment when a grocery store is actually open for two or three more days.  And I ponder the options: snagging an apple and pretzels at the end of the work day, making oatmeal/pb&j for dinner when I get home at 11, or grabbing a slice or tacos on the walk back from the subway.  Often the quick cheap warm food wins out, for obvious reasons.  Occasionally, I'll go out with friends to eat real food.  I got tired of being the weird one who wasn't eating out.  (And hungry.)

The food thing hasn't totally gone down the drain: I've made some good forays into home cooking, but when I get off track I've tended to stay off for a while.  Lately I haven't been able to find the time on a weekend to make a big batch of something to eat all week, which seems the best strategy I've discovered so far.   When I can make two things and freeze parts of both, I feel very industrious and rich!  I've also found that cooking for one can really suck.  My favorite meals at my place have been those shared with friends and neighbors: I subjected a few to my pad thai kick, and I shared many BLT's over the summer. 

So, I'll state my desire to return to meal planning and cooking here, with the idea that I'll become a little more accountable.  Stay tuned for a little more food research and reporting.  Hopefully after Thanksgiving?

Posted on Monday, November 12, 2007 at 11:02PM by Registered CommenterMegan Metcalf | Comments2 Comments

The Franchise

My friend asked me to vote for her video on Current, an "ecospot" about the power of the individual to effect environmental change.  View and vote here.  While the videos are fun to watch and generally cute, I pause at the thought that these suggestions will bring about the scope of changes scientists say we need right now so that people my age can have kids in good conscience.  More convincing is the message of the op-ed someone else forwarded me this week.   In it, Thomas L. Friedman makes the argument - many times rehearsed at this point - that the only way to achieve change on any kind of scale is to vote it into existence.  As we survey the candidates, can we divide this issue out from all the other pressing concerns: Iraq, Darfour, health care - not to mention electability?  Not to be a Debbie Downer here, but it seems inevitable that a milquetoast compromise is the best we can hope for, and even then its implementation is in no way guaranteed.  Someone cheer me up here!

Posted on Thursday, November 1, 2007 at 11:17PM by Registered CommenterMegan Metcalf | CommentsPost a Comment


My friend packed up her apartment and called me up.  Do you need napkins?  Dish towels?  Tea?  Bungee cords?  Worchestire sauce?  A can opener?  Well, sure.  I know that the city recycles itself in a lot of ways, and I can't imagine every bag gets opened up and inspected for useful/intact things.  I couldn't carry everything, and it pained me to see perfectly good things go in the trash...to think, this happens every day!  (But don't call me up if you're moving to LA/London/Toronto - my little place can't take too much more...)


Posted on Wednesday, October 31, 2007 at 09:53PM by Registered CommenterMegan Metcalf in | CommentsPost a Comment

This weekend in NYC: The Globesity Festival

From the Globesity Festival website:  

This is an Announcement of a Showdown
. . . From the Personal to the Global . . .

GLOBESITY is the over consumption of all natural elements that create and sustain life on Earth – some of the most vital and visible being water, minerals, oil, and FOOD. Our approach to food and sustenance is destroying our personal and social health. Our Earth and our Bodies cannot sustain the beastly grind of consumption. This beast is Globesity. It has been named. Now is the hour of confrontation.

The Globesity Festival is FREE to Everyone.

COME JOIN US for a Week of discussions, solutions, community building and PERFORMANCE.


I'm sure I wouldn't agree with all of the opinions expressed by the artists and thinkers presenting this week, and I'll bet they're putting some thought-provoking stuff out there.  I'll be out of town: somebody go to the Thursday night presentation "Eating Good in the Hood," a topic I want to look into in the coming weeks.   Click here for the full schedule.

Posted on Wednesday, October 24, 2007 at 10:32PM by Registered CommenterMegan Metcalf | CommentsPost a Comment

Let's keep this all in perspective

Posted on Tuesday, October 23, 2007 at 09:49PM by Registered CommenterMegan Metcalf in | CommentsPost a Comment

I'm sorry if I let you down


I went back to the gallery three times before I actually bought it.  I've been wearing it as a uniform, every day, which is having powerful effects.  I'm waffling about the office: I've worn it all day there though I haven't been quite brave enough to wear it every single day - my boss even gave me her blessing.  I've been telling myself I need a little separation between work and not-work and the clothes that I wear there (which are so limited they are like a uniform, too) help me do that.  Any energy I spend thinking about other clothes - dance clothes, bike-riding clothes, which of the work uniforms to wear - feels like a complete waste.

I've failed Fix in that I bought something new, something that I charged to my credit card - which I haven't done all year.   At the same time, Fix is about exposing the connections between buyer and seller, getting out of the conventional mode of commercial exchange, and challenging expectations about consumption.  This purchase reiterates all of the nasty things of shopping with some important differences: with a little effort, I can email the artist who made the dress and talk about the process; the gallery that sold it and earned a commission is part of the art market but not part of the fast fashion industry, trying to convince everyone that they need this now but not next week; and, the amount I spent on this little item and the ideology behind it ensures that it won't go into the landfill after a couple of wears.  Let's say I bought a really expensive prototype; I'll make the next one.

I'll leave you with the press release for the smockshop show, which helped convince me that Andrea Zittel wasn't kidding herself about the smocks.  She knows that they're fashion; she's trying to get a little art in there too.   

Posted on Sunday, October 21, 2007 at 08:07PM by Registered CommenterMegan Metcalf in | Comments1 Comment


I broke down and bought some deodorant.  I've got a trip coming up in which I'll be sharing pretty close quarters - I don't think this particular traveling partner will appreciate even a little bit of natural fragrance.  And packing baking soda seems like asking for disaster.  I must have looked pretty funny, spending 30 minutes or so in the deodorant aisle at Whole Foods scrutinizing the evils: packaging, aluminum, icky fake smells.  I settled on some Kiss My Face "Liquid Rock" (who knows what that means), only because I've liked their products in the past.

On an even more personal note, it's time to order The Keeper, an enviro-alternative to tampons.  My friend Jenna mentioned it early in the Fix experiment, and I've been following the Crunchy Chicken blogger's adventures with this particular option.  You can read about them here.  I'll spare you the gory details, but maybe I'll offer a thumbs-up or thumbs-down after a couple of months.   


Posted on Wednesday, October 17, 2007 at 11:25PM by Registered CommenterMegan Metcalf in | Comments1 Comment

Do I need them?

I've got a new prescription for reading glasses.  If I buy them this week, I can get some cute frames for really cheap (a sale); if I wait, I can still buy different ones, maybe better, for a good deal at the eye doctor's office.  The new prescription is slightly weaker than the last one - filled in 2000 I think - which was weaker than the one before that.  The doctor said I could continue to wear my old ones, but... (of course she's supposed to sell glasses too).  I can put it off until January but maybe the glasses at the doctor's office aren't as good as the sale ones!  And what if the doctor's office changes their inventory and the ones we picked out are no longer available!

Am I so desperate for new things that I'm trying to justify the purchase of glasses that I don't actually need?  (Need taken in a real-life need sort of way.) I think I'm coming up against something big here on material items...The food thing hit about 4 or 5 months in, and I've had creeping moments of wanting to buy things here and there, but now it's really bad.  Becoming more conscious about the things I desire, buy, consume, and throw away is transitioning to me becoming obsessed.  I'm wasting a stupid amount of energy on these decisions: first about the decision to buy or not to buy, and then trying to analyze the tricks I'm playing on myself and psychologize what my desires might mean.  Maybe it's just better to buy the damn things and get it over with!

Of course I could be trying to justify the failures of my experiment and its ideology. 


Posted on Monday, October 15, 2007 at 12:53AM by Registered CommenterMegan Metcalf in | Comments2 Comments