Thursday, October 7, 2010

I'm cheating on New West already

Sorry, New West, I hate to tell you this. I'm not even a week into my year of shopping only in New Westminster and I'm already cheating on you. With a video store in Winnipeg.
"Winn-i-peg!?!" I can hear you saying like those people in the Pace Picante salsa commercials say "New York City?!?"
I suppose that would make New Westminster San Antonio and Winnipeg New York City, which is kind of a strange comparison to mull over in one's mind. But anyway . . . onward to my tale of cheating and betrayal:

I have coffee a few times a week with a group of friends who were not impressed to hear I was keeping my subscription to a mail-order DVD service. My friends, or should I say "friends," called me a cheater and said I should be suffering more for my year of shopping locally.

The service is called Cinemail and it's based in Winnipeg. I order DVDs online and they are delivered by mail. I watch them, put them in an envelope and mail them back.  From what I can tell, Cinemail is a made-in-Canada success story, now undoubtedly under pressure from the expansion of Netflix into Canada. Rogers and Blockbuster, my two choices for DVD rental in New Westminster, are also undoubtedly under pressure from Netflix, but I care more about Cinemail than I do about Rogers and Blockbuster. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I doubt either one of them offers 26 films by acclaimed Japanese director Akira Kurosawa. Netflix doesn't either. Cinemail does.

I knew doing this shopping locally thing was going to involve many contradictions. I have dropped using Spud, a grocery delivery service, because it's based in Vancouver. That is despite Spud's commitment to local produce. On my last order, on Sept. 30, my groceries travelled an average of just 73 kilometres to reach SPUD's warehouse. That's compared to the average 2,500 kilometres SPUD says products are transported to a typical grocery store in Canada. The bagels in my order, from fabulous Siegel's Bagels, travelled just seven kilometres to SPUD's warehouse. So, does that mean by shopping "locally" all my produce is going to come from thousands of miles away? (So far, so good: Kin's seems to label the source of most of their produce and much of it is from B.C. I'm going to the New West farmer's market today, where I'm sure I'll find lots of close-to-home options too.)

Being a consumer in the 21st century is all about contradictions. I saw a card kit at a store not long ago that gave you all the pieces to make "handmade" cards; everything was pre-cut, all you had to do was glue. This blog is about me confronting those contradictions and making conscious decisions about them, not necessarily about suffering.

So, call me a cheater, call me a hypocrite; I'm keeping Cinemail. Unless . . . unless you're willing to suffer with me too. Here's the deal coffee ladies: I'll drop Cinemail if you all agree to shop in the cities you live in for one whole year too. Who's in?