Back to school, and family swap meets


STOCK EXCHANGE A meet-up where people can swap babies’ and kids’ items will be held in Westport this Saturday.

Green Living
McKinley Neal

It is such good news that the majority of us are now able to go back to activities – work with colleagues, some sporting activities, visits with friends and families, and very soon schools will start what will hopefully be a relatively normal year.
I’ve talked to many people lately who are taking the opportunity to adopt new habits as they go back into the world.
The recent heatwave inspired many to buy a reusable bottle. I am optimistic, though, that more people realise the upsides of having a bottle for life: nicer flavour (no plastic taste!), better aesthetic, no single-use waste and free refills at home and out and about.
Check out for places you can refill across the country; look for their logo in local businesses, and don’t be afraid to ask if you need a top up. Check your cupboards for a reusable water bottle before you go out and buy new, as well, as many of us have accumulated a few over the years.
Preparations for back-to-school highlight how important it is to have reusables for kids, but the same applies to adults as well, as we bring our food as often to the workplace. The initial cost is a bit more, but at least in our house, designated (and sturdy!) lunch boxes have made it easier for us to pack and bring our own lunches, avoiding a panic buy covered in single use plastic.
There are reusable alternatives to most things now, so choose a lunch box that replaces something you buy regularly and suits your needs. A challenge with kids may be convincing them to use the same items they used for a year already, but think about how they can decorate them or swap them amongst siblings or friends to make them new to the individual.
Speaking of swaps, since last year it has become much more normalised to consider swapping or sourcing anything we can secondhand. has launched as a platform to exchange school uniforms, books and sporting equipment, for example. I have now lined up families with kids older than ours to ask for items we need – and families with children younger than ours, to pass along things we have outgrown.
And, we will be joining together with the group Decarbonise Westport to host an exchange of items for babies and kids—all kinds of goods, from clothing to shoes to accessories and gear. This ‘swap meet’ will be held front of PAX Whole Foods & Eco Goods on Market Lane, Westport, this Saturday, August 21, from 11am to 3pm.
We will be continuing to facilitate swaps for our community, as we firmly believe that the more sharing rather than buying that we can do, the better.
All existing items have a particular lifespan requirement to offset the carbon required for their production. So by caring for them, preserving them and passing them along to others who can use them, we offset the carbon footprint and decrease the resources needed for new items in the long run. Win win.

McKinley Neal co-runs PAX Whole Foods & Eco Goods, a minimal-waste shop in Westport offering bulk organic foods, reusable goods, household products, eco-friendly personal care items and gifts.