November 1st, 2011
Ways to Reduce our Reliance on Corporations (and exposure to ads)

After much thought, and some insight from readers I decided to put this list together. I do not attempt to do all of this perfectly, certainly there are many areas where it is hard to be as discerning. You do not have to move to the country and grow your own food to opt out of some unhealthy corporate dependencies (though this is a beautiful thing to do if you choose). And to be honest it becomes much harder to take time now that I have two small children to care for. Certainly we all have our own contradictions and there are some areas where the options are quite limited (internet providers, insurance, etc.). But we do our best to make some healthier choices for our family, and to show our children that they have power over what goes into their bodies and minds. I see the mind as no different than the body, what you put into determines and effects your mental health on a daily basis.

Simply put I want to increase the soulful, life sustaining, mind expanding stuff, and decrease or eliminate the junk food. Each of us has to draw their own lines where it feels most comfortable. I give myself permission to change and grow on the journey. Many things that once felt okay for me, no longer do and in some areas there is room for improvement. I am finding this journey to be more “self directed” in the world incredibly satisfying and soulful. Making things, clothing my children, cooking from scratch, have made my life more meaningful and rich. Taking a hard line on blogads lets me sleep well at night and makes me feel good about what I am teaching my kids. That we do have a choice.

I would love it if you have anything to add, please put it in the comments.

1. Use your purchasing power as a political statement. Shop locally, ethically and in moderation. Ask the question “What do I really need?”

While you cannot remove yourself entirely from mass culture, and for those who may not want to make their own clothing, (in some cases I still shop with Amazon when I cannot find it anywhere else), you can research companies and choose one whose ethics and practices are more mindful. Commit the time to seek out alternatives. We used a non-profit cell phone provider called Earth Tones for years, who were committed to political action in various forms and funded a variety of environmental projects. I use Etsy quite a bit for more homemade options and supplies.

2. Turn off the TV. (need I explain this one?) I will say that after I got rid of the television many years ago, my productivity soared and my imagination flourished. I read much more. I believe there is a correlation to my career beginning to do really well and my giving up TV. My brain became rewired and much less passive as a result. I still watch movies and the occasional series, but I get to choose where and how (no ads).

3. Make your own stuff as much as possible. I have begun making my own cleaning products with simple ingredients, and recently I purchased a great resource to help with all kinds of things that you can do yourself. I highly recommend the book Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World by Kelly Coyne & Erik Knutzen (I don’t need to add that I have no connection to the authors). Having looked at many books in this category I can safely say that if you are interested in homesteading or just getting off the consumer treadmill, this book will help you do it. I am soon going to try giving up the bottle (of shampoo that is), and give some of their alternatives a try. I’ll let you know how it goes. I already gave up hair color during my second pregnancy, choosing to let my grey hairs go loose and wild!

4. Use an Ad-Blocker program for the web. While this does little to actively stop the advertising, it does cut down on the visual overload and the adcreep we experience while surfing. I use Adblock Plus, which was created by a friend of mine. It is totally free and works like a charm. I’ve used it for years and love it.

5. Move your money.

6. Support media that is ethical and ad free. I have cut down on what sites I visit regularly, choosing ones that are ad-free over ones with ads. I do value when people write about products they like if they are things that I enjoy using (in my case wool, books, environmentally friendly clothing/toys, recipes), but now they must be ad free for me to trust them. In some cases this has been a really hard choice, as some were sites that I enjoyed (a few written by friends I love). But in almost ALL cases, as the ads increased on a site, so did the feeling that the writing began to serve the advertising.

7. Participate in Collaborative Consumption, interactions and economies that involve swapping, sharing, bartering, trading and renting.

8. Begin to perceive value in different ways, not just in terms of money. In the book The Good Life, authors Helen and Scott Nearing felt that having cut and stacked fire-wood that they acquired themselves, was better than money in the bank. It provided more for them physically and spiritually (in the work) and also in keeping them warm throughout the season. What about looking at your skills as being of incredible value in your life? Your ability to sew, cook, knit, grow, build, etc.?

9. Ride a bike or take public transit. Obvious I know, but I had to add it.

10. Use raw materials more, packaged products less. I suppose this goes under #1 and #3.

11. Buy used.

12. Repair your old things. I recently taught myself how to darn socks and sweaters. It is incredibly satisfying. I also learned to repair wool items using needle felting, it’s like magic.

13. Change your language. Name the object, not the brand (i.e. Kleenex v.s. tissue). Words are powerful. -from Kelsi

14. Choose independent businesses over chains. Use public spaces, museums, galleries, bookshops. -from Johnny, Diana & M

15. Pay with cash. When you use debit the bank gets a fee from the vendor. When you use cash the money goes to the owner of the shop. -from Diana

16. Don’t buy bottled water (carry reusable bottles). -from Jeanette

17. Become a minimalist. Cut down on your worldly possessions. -from Anne (read :mnmlist for tips)

(I will add to this list as things come in).

Nov 1 2011
12:31 pm
Kathleen writes:

I love this post and can’t wait to digest more bullets as they come in.

One thing that helps me reduce my reliance on corporations is as I buy a product is I consider the life of it. I think about who thought of this product, who made it, and how far it traveled to get in my hands. More often than not I find myself resisting a corporate purchase when I employ this kind of thinking. OR on the flip side I’ll buy something that may be a little out of my budget if I feel good about who I’m supporting with those dollars. And when I do end up buying something from IKEA or Target I’m not doing so mindlessly.

Nov 1 2011
2:23 pm
kelsi writes:

Something my family is doing right now is watching our words. For example, we say:
tissue, not kleenex
clogs, not danskos
sandals, not crocs
running shoes, not nikes
chocolate, not Three Musketeers (or whatever brand)…
you get the idea.
We are trying our best to name the object, not the brand. Words are powerful.

Nov 1 2011
2:33 pm
kerismith writes:

I am loving both of these comments!

Nov 1 2011
3:27 pm
maritn writes:

my boss has got 150 ha of arable land. he is a conventional farmer. I try to persuade him to turn into more nature firendly farming, bring life back to his soil, since its dead after so many years of chem coctails ! I give him alvays hard times. he knows inside Im right, but he ś too scared for the change yet . hes only 28 yrs old, i believe, he will get there one day. Im laughting on todays surplus. im sick of watching the prices in the shops, making u chase your tail even faster. I enjoy shopping in bazaars, carbootsales, markets where getting of hardly used goods is a matter of cents ! people canot understand I work one month out of a year and still I enjoy my life missing anything ! I like the coment from above : We are trying our best to name the object, not the brand. Words are powerful. there is a status spreading recently between my “fb friends”, short story about a boy scratching with a stone his fathers car..when the father saw it hit the child with a spanner ripping off his fingers..when came back from hospital, he saw on the car scratched : I love u dad … I m looking for the time when people will care of each other more then they care bout things that are ment to serve us, when a quality clothing, waterproof gear, proper shoes, proper food, clean transport, one word everyday needs wont be a privilidge of the smart , lucky or chosen ones, but will be a right of every single living creature on this little pointless dot in the universe so essencial for our existence. i believe we are on the right way for we had to see and feel the suffering and pain to understand what we are about to say NO 2 . we might be sheeps, eating what they give us, however, theres always a black sheep in the it and keep an eye on it so it canot rule in the minority forever .

Nov 1 2011
4:09 pm
penelope writes:

Keri: I am loving these thoughts as they are definitely reflecting my own! I wonder if you’ve heard of Radical Homemakers ( My friend who literally ditched the corporation to start her own farm swears by it. I can’t find it at my library, but it may be worth looking into.

Nov 1 2011
4:26 pm
kerismith writes:

hey Lope!
I bought the book a year and a half ago, but since I’ve been moving around I haven’t had a chance to test it out. Looking forward to doing it when we get settled again (we’re trying to sell our house right now but it’s a bad time for that. But I think you know a lot about that too!)

Nov 1 2011
8:47 pm
Melany writes:

These are all powerful suggestions. I loved reading each of them :) Thank You!

Nov 1 2011
9:36 pm
Lisa writes:

As mother to a sweet 3 and a half year old boy, I struggle constantly with his “bringing home” knowledge of mass-marketed crap (e.g., everything cross-marketed from the Cars movies, which he’s never watched) from his daycare. Sooo – as an antidote and amazingly effective distracting technique, my tiny subversion: we listen to a lot of vinyl records and CDs. My old records from the 70s! No ads. Just songs, stories, and his imagination. He will sit on the couch and listen for hours.

And for me: olive oil instead of moisturizer (if you put it on with damp skin and then towel dry, there’s no olive-y smell left on you). Honey instead of facial cleanser. Turbinado sugar/oil body scrub…you get the idea. Bake our own no-knead bread. Bike with kid in trailer until the snow comes.

Something I’m really struggling with is cellphone usage. We just got rid of our landline (so archaic, I know) and I do NOT want a phone with a data plan…but the options here (Toronto) are all expensive contractual obligations. Keri, why did you stop using Earth Tones? What do you use now?

Thanks for the inspiration to share…I’m looking forward to coming back to read this thread in a few days!

Nov 1 2011
10:39 pm
folkscallmejonny writes:

Here’s an idea from me – if you’re going to a cafe for coffee, go to a cafe in a museum, public gallery or independent bookshop rather than one that’s part of a large chain. That way you’ll be supporting the cultural life of your community and probably have a more intersting experience. Reclaim the public spaces in towns – the parks, museums, galleries, libraries.

Nov 1 2011
10:45 pm
Diana writes:


Wonderful to see this post! All your suggestions are great. For myself, when I’m able to – and it’s SO hard to take your money out of the system – I just ask myself “where’s the best place I can put my money?” As a small and pretty pedestrian example: I could go to a large chain store and buy cleanser. Or I can go to the corner market and buy the same product, and then my money goes to one person running the shop, not the corporation.

Of course, this isn’t a suggestion that’s as clean as making your own, or buying an artisanal product, but most of us have practical concessions we choose to make – so with that in mind, I just ask myself, what’s the best choice here? It’s always better local, personal, and small.

The added bonus is that going into a small store for cleanser usually yields you one or two choices as opposed to twenty, which is just a much better experience psychologically than facing a wall of choices that are basically the same!

OH! And paying cash! Every time you go anywhere & buy on debit, the bank gets a cut of your purchase, and I think the minimum is something like 20 cents) of your purchase. When you don’t use debit at a small store, that money goes into the pockets of the owner. That’s a great small effect. Larger effects might actually include lower prices for everyone.

Nov 2 2011
6:23 am
Kate writes:

hi keri, these are very powerful thoughts. so often, i think, we fail to realise how much power we have when we choose to think outside advertising/commodification/corporate culture. this message is so important to get out there.
one way i try to minimise the power of corporate culture in my life is to remind myself how valuable my time and my energy are to me. much more valuable than money! then i try to work out if something is – an activity, a product, a job etc. – is a good way to spend my time and energy. i try to do this before i put a dollar value on something.
spending my time and my energy, how i spend them, to whom and how i offer them, how that spending either contributes to or takes from the community, the environment, other people and also how that spending comes back to me (does it replenish my energy or deplete it? does it ‘waste’ my time or enrich it?)
that way i am literally putting my time and energy before money, i am valuing myself and others’ and the earths’ integral values before simply considering the financial implications of a decision.
this is often hard to do as there are so little indicators or encouragements to remind us to think like this, and i think people sometimes find me a little odd because of it, but i have found it to be quite an enriching process.
it slows me down, makes me more considerate and thoughtful, connects me to what is really important to me and makes me a little more independent, a little less reliant on corporate culture.
thanks again for this post and your thoughts on this issue. it’s so important and i always find your contributions on this matter so inspiring!
much love for all your brilliant work :-)

Nov 2 2011
8:27 am
m writes:

after learning about the bullying tactics of UK supermarkets who are nearly all untrammed oligarchys (esp Tesco) who are destroying our high sts. I’ve made a huge huge effort to shop at independent shops and fewer supermarkets in the past year. I go to our local farmers market once a week and use the chinese supermarket and other indpendent stores. I’m eating better, I FEEL better and often find things cheaper!

Nov 2 2011
8:32 am
summer writes:

I saw this article this morning and immediately thought of you: Love your words & example as always. xo

Nov 2 2011
11:39 am
folkscallmejonny writes:

Keri, you woke up one morning and discovered you were a brand (not much you can do about it). Your ad-free stance is your USP (unique selling point) and just makes your brand identity stronger (and therefore even more marketable). How do you get out of that one?
Hope you are all wearing your Folkscallmejonny T-shirts.

Nov 2 2011
11:58 am
Jeannette writes:

There are some great ideas here. I do have one suggestion of my own, don’t buy bottled water. To me it is more than just the waste the bottles produce. Buying bottled water when there is safe public tap water to drink is effectively telling corporations that I want my drinking water to be privatized. I carry re-usable water bottles everywhere and fill them from the tap.

Nov 2 2011
12:30 pm
Anne writes:

These are great examples! I’ve always been a supporter of ad-free blogging, and after years and years of being online, I’ve developed into my own filter – ads really do not bug me anymore.

Most people think it’s crazy to spend more on handmade products, but these are really worthy investments because people crafting them put a lot of thought into them – health, safety, sustainability…

Minimalism has helped me make better choices. It’s good and liberating when you realize you don’t need all that much. You have fewer things, and you know the value of each and every one. I am slowly getting rid (freecycling/recycling) of my things and acquiring even less nowadays.

Great post! Bookmarking it :)

Nov 2 2011
12:45 pm
kerismith writes:

I’ve actually had to defend that one already many times (as you can imagine). In all honesty the ad-free blog site and my stance have done more to hinder my “brand”, it has NOT been a popular viewpoint in North America (the Spanish people love me on this one). I have been criticized, attacked publicly in advertising magazines and newspapers, parodied, lost readers, and on and on.

I never set out to “make my brand identity stronger”, only to make a point that I feel strongly about. I had no idea how unpopular it would be. And now I don’t care (took me a long time to get to that place, it was hard at first).

I feel really good about it and that’s what matters most.

Earthtones was wonderful, but as I have been moving around so much (I taught in Canada for six months), I had to switch to a “pay as you go” plan that allows me to not incur steep roaming fees (I can switch cards as I switch countries). I highly recommend Earthtones (they don’t support smartphones yet though in case you need that). They used to call me if I went over my minutes and ask me if I wanted to upgrade my plan that month (literally saving me hundreds of dollars). What company does that nowadays?!?

Nov 2 2011
2:07 pm
folkscallmejonny writes:

Thanks, Keri. I think the most important thing is the work we do and the thought, skill and inspiration we bring to it. It’s a waste of time and pointless distraction to worry about fame. Let’s get on with our work, have a rest after and let history decide its rightful place.

Nov 2 2011
2:07 pm
Helen writes:

Keri, we’ve talked about this over the years and I continue to be driven by how to minimise the tentacles of consumerism and marketing in our lives. In addition to many of the ideas presented here, we’ve helped create an alternative economy that does double duty in decreasing the need for money and increasing our reliance on those deeper messy interations. We belong to a 15-family babysitting co-op with a popsicle-stick currency. For four years, we’ve had a dinner co-op with two other families on our street who, like us, juggle the dual jobs, multiple kids circus. We cook dinner for each other and deliver on our designated night weekly (I’ve just started blogging the recipes because so many people are interested). We have informal food, clothing and book trades.
But here’s an example of what I sometimes struggle with: bike commuting in my city is high but there is a push to get it higher, which means reaching the people who aren’t the choir. While the infrastructure is there, one of the biggest ways to get more women and families commuting by bike (who bike commute in much lower percentages than men) is through making it fun! fresh! appealing! read: cute stuff and gear. This is what I wonder: to further our collective step in the right direction as a city, society, whatever, do we use the conventional path? Do we say hell yes, if a new bike with a wicker basket takes one more car off the road and creates one more lover of self-propelled transport, then oh hell yes to consumption? This is where the waters muddy in my mind.

Nov 2 2011
7:00 pm
sonrie writes:

Hi Keri ~ Great list!

Nov 2 2011
9:50 pm
Melissa writes:

Oh my goodness. You are one of the greatest inspirations in my life, thank you.

Nov 3 2011
10:06 am
~Heather writes:

Our final local video store died this past summer and we refuse to go back to Netflix, ‘somehow’ we’ve survived by the collection of dvds & vhs tapes at the local libraries. (And we’re reading more, thanks a lot George R.R. Martin!)

Using your local library system for books, e-books, magazines (cutting out a personal subscriptions), movies, etc. If the town is willing to store these materials in their/our building, then there’s no reason to store the materials in our own homes – unless we’re borrowing them!

Plus, the librarians are such amazing sources of information and you feel like a part of the community when they know your name and literary preferences.

Nov 3 2011
3:56 pm
folkscallmejonny writes:

Corporations are boring.

Nov 4 2011
3:51 am
Allison writes:

I’d like to second #16… it’s not just the waste of the bottles, but also that drinking water needs to be safe and available to all, not a luxury commodity to be marketed and paid through the nose for. We all need to support safe tap water. I love this spoken word piece by Evalyn Parry on the subject:
(link to the text, and a recording can be heard from a link in the sidebar).

Nov 4 2011
10:52 am
mollie writes:

Keri – you should be very pleased that the integrity of your work has somehow (needlessly) generated negative backlash related to you “branding” yourself. There is no such thing as bad press. And in your case, your message is pure goodness.

Jonny- I will totally wear your tee-shirt… but only if you made it yourself.

Nov 4 2011
3:04 pm
kelsi writes:

One more thing my family does:
We do our best to NOT wear logos on our clothing. It’s not always possible. (Try to remove a logo from a running shoe!)
But we really try not to become walking billboards. I’ve gone so far as to use my sewing tool to remove logos that have been embroidered onto a shirt and a jacket.

Nov 5 2011
9:20 am
B writes:

I love these suggestions!

Another suggestion is to band together with like-minded people in your neighborhood. I’m part of a neighorbood ‘store’ where there is a food coop (to order wholesale from the health food supplier) and CSA in the basement.

They have meetings there for the local Transition Town group, another group that plants fruit trees in the the neighboring park, etc. They also serve an an information hub : how to switch electricity providers to those that do not use nuclear, trade rings / gift exchange groups, how to make marmelade / preserves from extra CSA veggies.

It’s inspiring to be with others who share the same values to create a self-sufficient space.

Nov 5 2011
11:47 pm
paula writes:

collect tools and learn skills

Nov 6 2011
10:25 am
nina writes:

adblock plus = godsend! thank you.

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Nov 9 2011
12:31 pm
charis writes:

Great post keri!

I use recycled packaging for my shop. I also get my boots reheeled every winter instead of buying new ones which to me just seems daft!

Nov 15 2011
11:14 pm
Mridula writes:

Hi Keri, I have been reading your blog for some time now and I love the principles that you live by. I live in India where we are fast losing the race to consumerism. The so called upwardly- mobile Indians are on a spending spree: desperately acquiring things which they have no need for, mass influenced by ads to buy branded goods- none of them local, queuing up outside fast food joints etc. In the locality that I live in there is not a single household without two cars and this even though they have no parking space within their property. We are forgetting our age old sustainable and traditional way of living and adopting a materialistic culture. All the answers to our country’s problems can be found if we look back and understand why our ancestors chose a particular way of living.
Your articles made me think today about what we as individuals can do. Thanks again for such an interesting post.

Nov 18 2011
4:15 pm
Erica Domiducas writes:

Hi Keri! I love love love this! With the holidays coming up, I’ve pledged to only buy handmade gifts from Etsy and books from indie bookstores as gifts for my family and friends. May I add a suggestion? Perhaps you can add “use your public library” to the list. I usually visit my library once a week, as I love to read. I also take out CDs and DVDs from the library.

Nov 21 2011
9:56 am
Amber writes:

This list has some great points!

Point 12, repair your old things, reminds me of my grandma who always used to fix our socks.. loved it when she did!

And it also made me think of a useful website. It’s and encourages people to repair broken stuff themselves, instead of having to buy the same products over again. Mostly electronics though. Love the manifesto:

Nov 24 2011
4:48 pm
michelleski writes:

Your blog is one of the very few that I always come back to. It is always a grounding reality check that leaves my frequently scattered brain in a better place. Please keep up the thoughtful work!

Dec 5 2011
2:26 pm
erinmidwife writes:

Can you give any more feedback on Earth Tones cell service? I’d love to support them. The reviews online are all dated and not exactly reassuring. Thanks!

Dec 7 2011
9:20 pm
penelope writes:

Hi again Keri!
Just wanted to pop back in to tell you that I just finished reading “Radical Homemakers” that I mentioned in my previous comment. (Ended up getting it from interlibrary loan – yay!) :) Anyway. You said you own it… you should definitely give it a read. SUPER inspiring. I think you’ll like it.

This article (by same author) is also terrific:

xo, p

Dec 10 2011
4:21 pm
Mel writes:

Thumbs uuuupppp!!!

Feb 21 2012
6:09 am
ahhyun writes:

as far as i remember i wrote here before
about how feel refreshed about reading the
anti-advertising posts
and the fact that i work for a so-called top advertising company in korea

it’s a shame that my values on original, raw, true things sometimes clash with creating ideas, images and messages for advertisement

i try to input those values in what i do
but since i am only in my second year working here +
that we are an agency,
the chances are low.

please update your thought on anti-advertising
and share it with us so ppl. like me can
wake up once in a while : )

cheers :)


Feb 21 2012
6:11 am
ahhyun writes:

as far as i remember i wrote here before
about how i feel refreshed about reading the
anti-advertising posts
and the fact that………..
i work for a so-called top advertising company in korea

it’s a shame that my values on original, raw, true things sometimes clash with creating ideas, images and messages for strategic planning

i try to input those values in what i do
but since i am only in my second year working here +
that we are an agency,
the chances are low.

please update your thoughts on anti-advertising
and share it with us so ppl. like me can
wake up once in a while : )

cheers :)


Feb 28 2012
10:51 pm
Stephi writes:

Was looking for an app to help me print ‘clean’ versions of online articles(without all the ads and junk) and stumbled upon this website: Apparently it let’s you customize how you want websites to appear, cleaning them up and giving you the option to cut out all ads.It works on PC s, readers, and soon idevices. Also lets you save articles to read later. (dang now I sound like an ad!). Anyways it’s free and I got excited when I found it and thought of you and everyone else who is fed up with online ads.

Apr 18 2012
2:09 pm
Phyllis writes:

We buy our veggie starts from a small local farmer who raises organic heirloom plants and herbs. If for some reason they don’t have what we need, the next step is our wonderful locally owned garden/homegoods shop that buy their seeds/starts from a somewhat bigger local farmer who raises organic and organic heirloom plants and herbs. Buy local!

Jul 20 2012
3:19 pm
Ben Babylon writes:

Listen to more music. Preferably music you have never heard before. Try your hardest every week to find a new artist that you have never heard before, and become their biggest fan for a week.

Dec 8 2012
9:05 pm
Mary Hirschhorn writes:

I really need to read this! I love it. I am trying to actively instill this thought process in my home. I feel that it will bring principles, truth and harmony into our lives.

Jan 12 2013
12:15 am writes:

This posting, “Ways to Reduce our Reliance on Corporations (and exposure to

Jun 23 2013
4:58 pm
Steph writes:

Another way to cut back on the power we give these corporations: Give your children the gift of an open-source education and get them away from public schooling. Check out any of John Taylor Gatto’s books for a detailed explanation. Quite an eye opener.

Jun 27 2013
3:27 pm
term life insurance companies writes:

Everyone loves it when folks come together and share
ideas. Great blog, stick with it!

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