Barter Bay · sustainable living

little Miss Mama DIY project with Barter Bay

It’s no secret I love a good DIY Furniture Project.

I’ve done my fair share of DIY Projects, where I take something old and make it new again. Like this Little Tikes House we made over, or this Vintage Tea Pot we tuned into a vase. These are absolutly the best, most fullfilling projects to tackle. Not only are you helping our environment by recycling something that was destin for the landfill, but in most cases it doesn’t cost much.

It’s why today I want to introduce you to Barter Bay. A website and app that allows you to buy, sell, and trade second-hand goods with real people in your community. Barter Bay makes it easy to sell what you don’t need or trade for something more useful. A Vancouver start-up company, Barter Bay is doing their part in minimizing our environmental footprints while helping their community live a more sustainable life. They’ve made the second-hand market, more accessible.

Now, let’s get started on how to tackle your next DIY Furniture Project.

First things first;

Find a piece to repurpose. Get creative, it doesn’t have to be used for what it’s original intension was for. Like my friend Andria at The Cheerio Diaries who made this gorgeous entrance bench out of a headboard and some wood.

Visit a local second-hand store or better yet, go virtual and find a second-hand site like Barter Bay. Looking right now, they has a ton of great pieces for sale with some serious makeover potential. YOU GUYS! your next DIY Furniture Project is waiting. Don’t believe me, check it out for yourself!

I can spot a few pieces that SCREAM makeover. Take this dining room table for example. Priced at $20, and in great condition, I’d say all this needs is a bit of paint. Or this adorable childrens Seesaw priced at $20. Someone with an artistic eye could even tackle this and re-sell it; with me as the buyer! I’ve never met a picture frame I didn’t love. This one for $10 would be perfect painted and either repurposed as a mirror, a corkboard or even a serving platter, jewelry holder or knick-knack shelf.

The more I look on Barter Bay, the more I realize I need to make more time for DIY Projects. I mean, don’t get me started on how many fun things I could do with this Vintage Accordion. Or a stack of books for $2 each. One look on Pinterest says I could make this gorgeous wall shelfperfect for the girls bedroom.

Let me tell you;

I’ve got so many friends locally who craft and they’re incredible at it I may add. Our friend Stacey at A Dad In The Burbs made this phenominal Farmhouse Kitchen Tablefrom some old wood and iron pipes. Then there’s Janette from Ava to Zoe who repurposed an IKEA bed, giving it a fresh coat of white paint and some adorable drapery. How about Samantha who writes over at This West Coast Mommy who turned an old coffee table into this chic ottoman. These friends of mine clearly know what they’re doing.

This post was JUST what I needed to get back in the DIY game. A little reminder of the things I onced loved and have forgotten to make time for. A sense a project coming you guys! A DIY is on the horizon so stay tuned! Thanks Barter Bay for giving me the inspiration I needed to get back to doing something I truly love. Go download their app now (itunes and Google Play) and be inspired for your next DIY. 


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sustainable living

What is Sustainable Living?

Sustainable living is the practice of reducing your demand on natural resources by making sure that you replace what you use to the best of your ability. Sometimes that can mean not choosing to consume a product that is made using practices that don’t promote sustainability; and sometimes it means changing how you do things so that you start becoming more of an active part of the cycle of life.

We all know that climate change, global warming, depletion of ozone layer and resource depletion are real and their impact on human and animal lives can be devastating. It is an opportunity for people to adopt actions for sustainable living that can help them to reduce their carbon footprint or environmental impact by altering their lifestyle. Simple measures like using public transportation more often, reducing energy consumption, becoming more eco-friendly can go a long way in reducing your environmental impactand making this planet a clean and safe place.

Wikipedia defines ‘Sustainable Living‘ as,

Sustainable living is a lifestyle that attempts to reduce an individual’s or society’s use of the Earth’s natural resources and personal resources. Practitioners of sustainable living often attempt to reduce their carbon footprint by altering methods of transportation, energy consumption, and diet. Proponents of sustainable living aim to conduct their lives in ways that are consistent with sustainability, in natural balance and respectful of humanity’s symbiotic relationship with the Earth’s natural ecology and cycles. The practice and general philosophy of ecological living is highly interrelated with the overall principles of sustainable development.

15 Easy Ways to Practice Sustainable Living

Want to start practicing sustainable living? It is easier than you think. Although there are various ways to live and practice sustainable living, here are 15 quick and easy suggestions to live a sustainable life.

1. Become a member of a community garden: It isn’t just about growing your own food, being a member of a community garden helps to promote sustainable living in your area. Gardens create green spaces and the garden waste can be mulched and returned to support healthy soil. Green spaces aren’t just important for your state of mind; in urban areas they can play an important role in offsetting carbon emissions.

2. Practice minimalism: Minimalism doesn’t mean living without anything, it means that you are making sure that everything you own and use is put to its maximum purpose. This means waste materials as well. With a minimalist lifestyle, you will recycle more, and be more mindful of the items you support being produced so that sustainability is emphasized.

3. Change the lights in your house: By changing the lighting in your home from traditional light bulbs to CFL, using skylights and more natural light you will reduce your demand on energy resources significantly. Using longer lasting, energy efficient light sources also reduces the amount of waste going into landfills significantly.

4. Become more efficient with your errands: You don’t have to buy a hybrid to reduce your reliance on fossil fuels. By choosing to become more efficient with your errands you can create a system of sustainable living that is based in reducing the amount of natural resources you consume.

5. Start using natural cleaners: Take an hour or so to research some home-made options for natural cleaners. Vinegar and water can clean most surfaces, and the saponin from quinoa is a natural laundry detergent. By using natural cleaners you are reducing the amount of plastic packaging being made, and the amount of chemicals that are being introduced to the water system.

6. Walk, bike or car pool to work: The less personal use of your car you do, the more you and the environment will benefit. Sustainable living not only promotes sustainability by reducing pollution and the consumption of natural resource; walking or biking to work will also improve your health and reduce the strain on public health resources.

Even car-pooling assists sustainability as it can provide an increased social outlet that can improve the quality of life. Science has found that there is a direct connection between your quality of life and the sustainability of life that you will choose to lead.

7. Spend more time reading and playing games: How can this be a part of sustainable living? By reducing your reliance on entertainment forms that require energy and natural resources you can help to reduce the demand and drain on them.

8. Try to get on a more natural sleep schedule: Getting on a natural sleep schedule means becoming more attuned to the natural light in the day. Not only is this better for your health, it will begin to lessen the amount of power that you use while you are up.


9. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle: Reduce your need to buy new products. If there is less waste, then there is less to recycle or reuse. Learning to reuse items, or repurpose them for different use then what they are intended for is essential in waste hierarchy. Recycle old glass bottles or aluminium cans. Keep a recycle bin at your home and try making more trips to recycling station than to the landfill.

10. Unplug device when not in use: Most of the electronic devices keep on drawing electricity even when they’re off. To reduce energy usage, simply pull the plug when not in use. It will help you to save energy and reduce your monthly electricity bill.

11. Buy right-sized house: Practitioners of sustainable living conduct their lives in ways that are consistent with sustainability. Among many ways that promotes sustainability, one of them is buying a smaller house is going to consume less energy as compared to a big house. You’re going to spend less on lighting, furniture and overall furnishing. You can even purchase items from thrift stores and donate them again when they’re no longer needed. Make use of green home building ideas and techniques while building a new home.

12. Use daylight as much as possible: Sunlight is free and doesn’t cost anything. Using sunlight during the day helps to reduce dependence on fossil fuels to produce electricity and your bulbs and tube lights are going to last longer.

13. Stop unwanted mail: Save natural resources by opting out from billions of unwanted mailings and simplify your life. Sites like offers free service to opt out of catalogs, coupons, credit card offers, phone books, circulars and more. It helps you to reduce clutter, protect privacy and save environment.

14. Practice keeping a “zero energy balance” budget: A zero energy balance budget means that what you take in, you also return back. This is really the core of all sustainable living. If you practice keeping a budget that has a zero energy balance, you will be surprised how your habits of consuming will change and reduce your imprint on the world.

15. Change your washing habits: This one is important to attain sustainable living. We wash everything too much. Not only has science discovered that our over emphasis on being clean has reduced our natural immune resistance to diseases (which require exposure to bacteria to develop), but each person wastes tremendous amounts of water when they bathe, wash dishes or do laundry. Practice taking short and times showers, washing dishes in a sink of water and then rinsing them and cutting down on the amount of laundry that you do.

16. Choose Renewable energy: Choosing renewable energy over fossil fuels is a great way to stop climate change and doing your part in making things happen. Install solar panels for solar water heating. Explore options of getting tax credit from the government. Speak to your utility is there is any way to add clean power to the grid so as to offset your carbon footprint.

17. Buy products with less packaging: Whenever you go out for shopping, always buy products with less packaging. The excess packaging on the stuff goes in your dustbin and from there it goes to landfills in most cases. It not only further contaminate the environment but also pose serious health effects to humans and animals.

18. Ditch the plastic: Plastic never goes away. It takes millions of years for plastic to decompose. Plastic can be found swirling in the ocean’s surfaces. It badly affects marine life. Every year large number of mammals, seals, sea birds are killed after ingesting plastic or getting tangled up in it. Its time for all of us to switch to reusable bags when we shop and ditch one-time use plastic water bottles.

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Barter Bay

Barter System History: The Past and Present

If you’ve ever swapped one of your toys with a friend in return for one of their toys, you have bartered. Bartering is trading services or goods with another person when there is no money involved. This type of exchange was relied upon by early civilizations. There are even cultures within modern society who still rely on this type of exchange. Bartering has been around for a very long time, however, it’s not necessarily something that an economy or society has relied solely on.

What is a Barter System?

A barter system is an old method of exchange. This system has been used for centuries and long before money was invented. People exchanged services and goods for other services and goods in return. Today, bartering has made a comeback using techniques that are more sophisticated to aid in trading; for instance, the Internet. In ancient times, this system involved people in the same area, however today bartering is global. The value of bartering items can be negotiated with the other party. Bartering doesn’t involve money which is one of the advantages. You can buy items by exchanging an item you have but no longer want or need. Generally, trading in this manner is done through Online auctions and swap markets.

History of Bartering

The history of bartering dates all the way back to 6000 BC. Introduced by Mesopotamia tribes, bartering was adopted by Phoenicians. Phoenicians bartered goods to those located in various other cities across oceans. Babylonian’s also developed an improved bartering system. Goods were exchanged for food, tea, weapons, and spices. At times, human skulls were used as well. Salt was another popular item exchanged. Salt was so valuable that Roman soldiers’ salaries were paid with it. In the Middle Ages, Europeans traveled around the globe to barter crafts and furs in exchange for silks and perfumes. Colonial Americans exchanged musket balls, deer skins, and wheat. When money was invented, bartering did not end, it become more organized.

Due to lack of money, bartering became popular in the 1930s during the Great Depression. It was used to obtain food and various other services. It was done through groups or between people who acted similar to banks. If any items were sold, the owner would receive credit and the buyer’s account would be debited.

Disadvantages and Advantages of Bartering

Just as with most things, there are disadvantages and advantages of bartering. A complication of bartering is determining how trustworthy the person you are trading with is. The other person does not have any proof or certification that they are legitimate, and there is no consumer protection or warranties involved. This means that services and goods you are exchanging may be exchanged for poor or defective items. You would not want to exchange a toy that is almost brand new and in perfect working condition for a toy that is worn and does not work at all would you? It may be a good idea to limit exchanges to family and friends in the beginning because good bartering requires skill and experience. At times, it is easy to think the item you desire is worth more than it actually is and underestimate the value of your own item.

On the positive side, there are great advantages to bartering. As mentioned earlier, you do not need money to barter. Another advantage is that there is flexibility in bartering. For instance, related products can be traded such as portable tablets in exchange for laptops. Or, items that are completely different can be traded such as lawn mowers for televisions. Homes can now be exchanged when people are travelling, which can save both parties money. For instance, if your parents have friends in another state and they need somewhere to stay while on a family vacation, their friends may trade their home for a week or so in exchange for your parents allowing them to use your home.

Another advantage of bartering is that you do not have to part with material items. Instead, you can offer a service in exchange for an item. For instance, if your friend has a skateboard that you want and their bicycle needs work, if you are good at fixing things, you can offer to fix their bike in exchange for the skateboard. With bartering two parties can get something they want or need from each other without having to spend any money.

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Buying second-hand products- Find out how you can protect yourself and your family when buying second-hand products.

Be aware of the potential risks of buying or using second-hand items from:

  • garage sales
  • flea markets
  • second-hand stores
  • the Internet
  • family and friends

In Canada, it is the seller’s responsibility to make sure that their products are safe. You should still be careful when buying anything second-hand. Products sold second-hand, especially at garage sales, may not meet current regulatory or safety requirements.

Avoid items that are:

  • banned
  • damaged
  • missing labelling or instructions

Look for labels

By law, some products (such as cribs and car seats) need a label that clearly states:

  • the manufacturer
  • model number
  • date of manufacture

Ask questions about the product

Every product has a history. Here are some questions you may want to ask before buying something second-hand:

  • How old is it?
  • How much use has it had?
  • Has it been repaired?
  • Has it been in an accident?

Commonly available second-hand products

Some second-hand products may seem harmless but they can be potentially dangerous. Be extra cautious about buying the following items:



  • bunk beds
  • car seats
  • children’s jewellery
  • children’s sleepwear
  • cribs, cradles and bassinets
  • playpens
  • strollers and carriages
  • other children’s products


  • blind cords
  • cosmetics
  • sports gear
  • magnets
  • smoke alarms

Buyer and seller responsibilities

As a buyer, you should be informed about:

  • product recalls and safety alerts
  • changes to regulatory or safety requirements

If you are lending, giving or selling an item, it must meet current Canadian regulatory or safety requirements. Homemade products must also meet the same regulatory or safety requirements. Get more information for shoppers of second-hand products on the Health Canada website.

Stay on top of recalls

If you need to find out if a product has been recalled, you can:

  • contact the retailer or manufacturer
  • check for recent recalls and safety alerts

Banned products in Canada

These products are banned in Canada because they are dangerous to human health or safety. They are banned under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act. It is illegal to sell or give away banned items.

Some of Canada’s banned products include:

  • baby walkers
  • infant self-feeding devices
  • jequirity beans and products made with jequirity beans
  • lawn darts with elongated tips
  • polycarbonate baby bottles that contain bisphenol A (BPA)

If you have bought a banned product or one that has been recalled, you should:

  • destroy it and/or
  • dispose of the item safely

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How to sell clothes and earn extra cash

It might be high time to sell clothes you’ve had hidden in your wardrobe that are in excellent condition but you just never seem to wear.
Here are a few ways to make a little buck from your hand-me-downs (#SideHustle) and save your clothing items from heading straight to the landfill (or spending another few years in the back of your closet).

1. Consignment stores

There are lots of great consignment stores around Metro Vancouver that you can bring your clothing to – from casual clothing to kids to luxury to vintage to even sporting apparel.

First, find out what style of clothes they are selling and whether your items are a “fit” for the store. No matter what, they will want clothing that is still in good condition, no rips or stains. A vintage store may be looking for unique pieces of well-known brands, whereas a more casual contemporary store will look for brands you see everyday. Find out what their requirements are as some will only take clothing that is a few years old or specific brands, while others may be more open in what they accept.

Consignment stores will usually recommend a price for you to sell clothes at, as they are familiar with what sells and what doesn’t. If you think it’s worth more you may be able to suggest a price depending on their standards.

So how do you get paid? There are two main approaches. The most common is receiving a percentage of the profits – anywhere from 25-60% – with the consignment store keeping the rest. The other approach is when the consignment store pays you upfront. The second approach can be great because than you get the money right away, even if it doesn’t sell, but you may take a hit on how much you earn (usually less than 50%). Also, keep in mind that sometimes you have to pay a consigner fee of $5-10.


2. Online buy & sell

There are a wide variety of online platforms and mobile apps you can use to sell clothes that currently have a lot of different users (think potential buyers). The benefit to these platforms is you get to keep the full profit of the sale, unlike consignment stores. Some are location based so you can sell to people within Metro Vancouver, whereas others have a wider reach and you can sell to people all over Canada, or even globally, depending on how you set up your shipping options.

The downside of selling clothes on these platforms is that there is more work for you to do in terms of posting the product, managing the posting, replying to emails and meeting up with potential buyers.

The best way to go about online selling is to take a look at what is being offered on the platform already and see which platform you think your clothes might sell best on and at what price. Also, try to take good quality photos that highlight your product well or style it in an outfit!

3. Clothing swap

Consider organizing a clothing swap, with a buy-in fee, for your friends. A clothing swap usually works where everyone brings a certain number of clothing pieces and then gets to ‘swap out’ their clothing with new (to them) items.

In this version, you focus on creating a well-organized swap, so you can request a small buy-in fee that allows each person to join in and swap a certain amount of clothing. For example, if everyone donates 10 items and pays $20 to join in the swap, they each get to select 10 items to take home. You can set the buy-in and clothing donation amounts to what you feel comfortable with collecting.

The work here for you comes in making sure it is a well-organized clothing swap. First, you collect all the clothing prior to the swap. Second, you set up everything by sizes and styles. Keeping it organized makes it easier to see all the garments, pick through them and find the right size – making the experience more enjoyable for everyone.

If you want to have a little more fun, donate a portion of the fee to charity, or serve some drinks and snacks. And voilà, your friends get new clothing, for a tiny price tag, and you make a few dollars while also getting some new items!


4. Markets

There are lots of markets popping up around Metro Vancouver. If you and your friends feel like you’ve got a lot of clothes to sell and items that other people would love, why not set up your own booth at a market?

The benefit to selling at a market is setting your own prices and keeping all the profits from your clothing sales. You will have a lot of walk by traffic and a room filled with potential buyers. This has become a lot easier for the average person to do as mobile credit card payment apps have made selling clothing so much easier.

Of course, the downside to this is that there is usually a small fixed price for a booth space and there is a lot of set up that comes with prepping clothing for a market.

5. Traditional garage sales

Who said that the traditional garage sale was dead? I personally love a good sunny Saturday spent garage sale hunting. Garage sales are great because you get the full profits, you can sell more than just your clothes and will have a variety of customers show up. The downside there is a lot more work for you in terms of set up and, usually, garage sale prices are lower than online or consignment prices. You can advertise for your garage sale on posters, in the local newspaper and online (like Craigslist).

Good luck with selling your clothing and extending their life cycle!

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