Reflecting on Consumption: Beginnings

October 22nd

This is the beginning of a multiple week reflective journal on consumption that I am doing for my Fundamentals of Sustainability course at Cape Breton University. In it, I am suppose to track my consumption, reflecting on the patterns and behaviours I notice. This is very much linked to techniques in mindfulness and neuro-biology, where journalling is used in very similar ways (see Rebecca Kochenderfer’s conversation with Dan Seigel). I am also supposed to make some changes to my behaviours and to see where that takes me. Through this practice of being critical and thoughtful of how and what I am consuming, I aim to become more aware of my behaviours and feel more empowered to make changes.

Today, I bought nothing. Not even the marshmallows I had been thinking about for my son so he could have something to cook over the fire. He said he was fine with not having any -as long as we have some tomorrow.

I thought we might do leaf and flower lanterns with the last of the fall foliage. So, I went downstairs to see what glass jars we had. My co-leader was also bringing some. I had, of course, forgotten to ask parents and the recycling had gone out yesterday. I gathered up some mason jars and put them in a box. I have no candles to put in them. Hmmmm…. perhaps it is enough to make the lanterns.

What I do need to consume more of is sleep!

We drove to the Centre and back again at night. The day was spent in to woods. I fed some chickadees, giving them some sunflower seeds. This was very special, the exchange between two different species. I love this connection. I hadn’t expected to be able to feed them this far from the Centre and I appreciate their bold willingness to trust.

Copyright Leigh Symonds
Copyright Leigh Symonds

My lunch, lovingly packed by my husband, was a selection of fruit and veggies, hard boiled organic eggs, and a few small squares of gluten free fair trade chocolate. We’ve had to make some dietary changes over the last fee years which has curtailed much of my indulgent spending. My husband has also taken over the shopping with my life being more busy. He’s much less tempted to buy treats for everyone. I like giving, which I am reflecting, means buying more often than not.

 Copyright Leigh Symonds
Copyright Leigh Symonds

The kids play and learn and get wet in the swamp and we head back to finish their volcano project. These are made of recycled newspaper, old flour left over from our gluten friendly days, water and water bottles (mea culpa Nancy!) to provide enough upthrust for the vinegar, baking soda and flour mixture, tinted with red food colouring. I had run out of yellow. Pink lava is just as exciting as orange! We went through the baking soda and vinegar like whoosh! I got more from the Centre and will have to replace it next week. Neither costs very much from my pocket, but I reflect on the plastic bottle that contains the vinegar. Hidden costs here. I reflect on the Story of Stuff where Annie Leonard talks about externalizing the costs of production and distribution (2007, timestamp 8:12). This is what I am literally ‘buying into’ here.

Copyright Leigh Symonds
Copyright Leigh Symonds

We didn’t end up making the lamps. Perhaps tomorrow with my other class. Or next week.

We had a meeting. I came home and ate dinner (organic chicken breasts, tomatoes, mashed turnip and potatoes and broccoli). Another lovely meeting after dinner with Amy and Nancy and the day is done.


Kochenderfer, Rebecca. (2019, October 8). Discover Journaling’s Positive Effects on the Brain, with Dr. Dan Siegel.

Leonard, Annie, Fox, Louis, & Sachs, Jonah. (December 2007). The Story of Stuff. Free Range Studios.

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