Buy Nothing Year really should be called Acquire Nothing Year, but that’s not as catchy.
The goal of Buy Nothing New Year is to have less stuff. To have fewer distractions, less to clean or maintain, less clutter, less to worry about. Buy Nothing New Year is about realising that I do not need more stuff to be happy. It’s about reducing my environmental footprint by consuming less resources and generating less waste.
Saving money is not the goal, but it is a rather obvious benefit of buying nothing. Because it is just a side-effect, not the goal, this means I can’t just hop on freecycle and still acquire loads of stuff this year. The same rules apply to stuff at any price: retail, cheap or free. It’s still stuff, and the rules apply equally.
The rules for Buy Nothing New Year
My Buy Nothing New Year goes from 21 July 2015 until 20 July 2016.
In a word: consumables – the stuff that I need to live and that won’t stay in my life permanently. But even these I’ll try to keep to a minimum.
Specifically, I am allowed:
- Food & drink but I will try to use up my pantry and freezer contents first, wherever possible.
- Toiletries and cleaning supplies only once all supplies are used up.
- Cosmetics, but only foundation and mascara (I have too much of everything else).
I will also allow some non-consumables:
- Dog stuff – things like a new dog bed, harness, collar, toys… but within reasonable limits. Really, I should only buy new things once the old things no longer do their job (e.g. her harness is starting to wear through and her bed is flat and lumpy).
- Gifts – because the challenge is about acquiring stuff, not just buying it, this one applies to giving and receiving gifts. As hard as I may try to convince people not to buy me stuff, and to buy my friends and family experiences instead of material possessions, gifts will remain a part of my life.
- Furniture and house renovation items – hubby and I have lived in our house for 5 years now, and we’ve been waiting until we finish renovating before buying furniture. Renovating and furnishing our home is one of my main priorities, so it would not make sense to put it off for a sixth year. I really hope to have a new kitchen and floor tiles before this challenge is over.
- Materials needed to repair, upcycle or create items that will prevent me from buying new stuff.
What’s not allowed:
- Kitchen equipment or supplies like glad wrap or aluminium foil (dishwashing tabs count as ‘cleaning products’ and are allowed).
- Clothes, shoes, handbags & accessories.
- Unnecessary makeup, cosmetics, cleaning products or toiletries (this includes more than you think! More on this later…).
- Decorative items and nick-nacks.
- Books or jigsaw puzzles (though I may borrow them from friends or the library, provided they are returned or passed on).
If I genuinely need something, like if a shoe fetishist were to break into my house while I slept and take off with every single pair I own, then I may allow myself to buy something. But it wouldn’t be much of a challenge without a few restrictions, would it?
If I decide that I need something:
- I will ‘shop on paper’ and write it down. Unless the purchase is urgent (damn you, shoe thief!), I will only be allowed to buy items off the list after 20 July 2016. This will allow me to re-evaluate the list after some time has passed. I bet half the items I ‘need’ will turn out to be ‘wants’.
- Before letting any new item into my life, I must rehome three other items. This means completely removing them from my life, not just throwing them on a decluttering pile to be dealt with later (my tendency thus far!). This will guarantee that, no matter what happens, I will have fewer things in my life at the end of the challenge than at the start.
- I will first try to borrow the item, then try to buy it second-hand, and only buy new if I can’t get it any other way. This will keep my environmental footprint and waste generation to a minimum.
That’s it for now! What do you think? I’d love to hear what rules you would add to the challenge, or what dilemmas you think I might face! Is there anything you might try doing too? Or did you maybe read something and think “Impossible! I could never do that!”?