How to Buy Nothing New for a Month and why it’s a good idea

All around the world, people will be shopping secondhand for all of October, or just not shopping at all! That’s right, October is…

Buy Nothing New Month

unnamed banner

Pledge here to join the challenge. It’s simple:

Pledge to Buy Nothing New this October, then with the exception of essentials (food, drink, medications, hygiene products) you can beg, borrow, barter, swap or buy second hand whatever you need.

You just buy nothing new.

A few of you have commented that you are inspired to stop shopping but don’t think you could. Well, here’s your chance to just reduce and change your shopping for a little while.

Buy Nothing New Month is how everything started for me. I was so motivated by the challenge that I extended it to a whole year in 2013. When I thought about doing it again, I thought I’d take the plunge and Buy Nothing! I’ll still be participating in Buy Nothing New Month this year by seeking out those exceptions to the rules that I am allowed to buy (like gifts) secondhand.

Don’t worry if you don’t think you can make it. Even just one item bought secondhand instead of new can save a huge amount of resources. You are saving the environment with every visit to a secondhand shop instead of Target.

With National Op Shop Week just behind us (at least for us Aussies), you should be well practiced in stepping into your nearest charity store and exploring the racks and shelves for those hidden treasures. You might even find an absolute bargain like my (new?) Alannah Hill top for $1!

Of course, there’s always plenty of online secondhand shopping or swapping to be done. There’s a growing number of websites that let you buy, swap or get free stuff! Try ebay, Amazon, Gumtree, freecycle, Ziilch, or facebook groups like ‘buy swap sell’ or ‘pass it forward’. Some of these sites will let you filter your results by used items and most will have a local version of the site in your country.


Buy Nothing New Month is all about asking a couple of questions:

  • Do I really need/want this item?
  • How can I obtain this some other way?

It’s about thinking where our stuff comes from (finite resources) and where it goes when we’re done (often landfill). It’s about getting creative in finding the things you need.

One of the easiest ways is to ask your friends and family if they would give or lend you the thing you need. A simple facebook post asking “Does anyone have a [fill blank] they no longer need?” may be enough – I’ve found many things this way!

Of course, some things are a bit more difficult to find. This may be hard to believe, but finally tracking down that obscure secondhand item can be as satisfying as buying a new pair of shoes at 50% off.

So get creative, save some money, and give it a go.


I’d love to hear from you. Will you pledge to Buy Nothing New in October?  What’s one thing you could never buy secondhand?


How to lose weight by exercising less

I started my long weekend by watching this great talk by Christine Carter at Wisdom 2.0 about how less is more. Christine is a sociologist and author of The Sweet Spot: How to Find Your Groove at Home and at Work.

I really like Christine’s idea of applying a minimum effective dose to all aspects of your life, including stuff and busyness.

I particularly enjoyed her description of a ‘better than nothing’ workout. I must say, I can completely relate to what she is saying! I have spend my adolescent and adult life thinking that I should do more exercise. That I should be spending at least an hour every day working out like a gym junkie.

Finally, after nearly 20 years of feeling like I wasn’t doing enough, I gave up. I decided I was fine the way I was. I could be healthier, fitter, thinner, stronger, but I was just fine as I was. I wasn’t so overweight that my life was at immediate risk, although I was very much at the top end of every ‘normal’ range. My waistline was only 1cm off being a risk factor for diabetes and heart disease. But I was fine.

So I stopped trying to exercise. I gave up on my plans of riding to work (18km) every day and doing weekly pump classes.  Around the same time (10 months ago), I got a dog and fell in love instantly. Exercise became an even lower priority and Sophie became my first. I committed to walk her every single morning, rain hail or shine. And, for the most part, I did. It wasn’t for me, it was for her, and I enjoyed my time with her immensely.

The thing about walking my dog is that it’s not really exercise! I used to map our dog walks and the app would tell me my walking pace. It usually averaged 15min to every 1km. That’s hardly speed walking. Hell, that’s not even walking. We’d stop every 2 minutes for her to sniff or pee or meet someone. It really just doesn’t count, but it was movement and it was every day.

For the last 3 years I’ve been battling with a shoulder injury. I am in pain daily, and my strength withered so much after surgery that I couldn’t lift my top over my own head. I’ve been steadily building up my strength and range of movement since then. Early this year, I changed physios. He got me doing much less, but more. I was spending less time on my exercises, and doing them only 3 times a week instead of daily, but the exercises were much more challenging. One day, he asked me to show him a push up.


I’d never done a push up in my life, but now with a shoulder injury I didn’t even come close. So we’re building up to it. Instead, he got me doing planks, just for 10 seconds at a time and building up.  I found myself doing the planks daily, never for more than 30 seconds, just because it was so easy. I didn’t need time, special clothes or equipment, and I could do them (almost) anywhere. I just needed 30 seconds, some floor space and a smidge of motivation.

Today, I am stronger than I’ve ever been, even with my injury. I have muscles! I can flex and show off my guns, and if I squeeze my abs you can just see a few baby muscles starting to rise from beneath the flab. Walking has made my thighs stop jiggling and rubbing together. I have lost about 8kg and 6cm off my waist. I can now pull my pants off without undoing any buttons or zippers (fantastic timing for my Buy Nothing Year!).

I feel great. I’m fitter, stronger and more confident than ever before. I might even dare to wear a bikini in front of people (it’s nearly summer!) and I’d even consider buying a tight-fitting dress (once Buy Nothing Year is over, of course).

The past year or two of my life I have repeated a few simple words over and over, and I’m starting to learn and believe them:

Less is more


I am enough

What’s so important that people are lining up for hours just to buy it?

The thing about not shopping is that I have no idea what all the fuss if about.

I walk past an Apple store to get to work. Every so often, today included, there will be a massive line in front of the store, often trailing down the street and around the corner. Today, there were even barricades and security guards.


What are they all waiting for?

I have no idea. And it doesn’t matter. My life won’t change just because some company has released a slightly different gadget, whether I buy it or not.

Whenever I fight my way through the crowds just to get to work I wonder why so many people are keen to buy something the instant it’s released. Why spend hours queueing for something they can buy the very next next day without all the hassle? And what’s wrong with the phone or whatever device it is they’re replacing? Probably absolutely nothing.

Seeing these people makes me feel free. I don’t need the latest fashionable device to be important, successful or cool. I can be all of those things all on my own. I’m not, but I could be.

I am comfortable the way I am, secondhand, 5-year-old phone ‘n all.

One man’s wise words and one woman’s new challenge

So my husband says to me “We should declutter”.

I laughed. “I’ve been decluttering for 2 years!”

Although when I thought about it, it’s been much longer than that, more like 5 or 6 years.

“Yeah, in dribs and drabs. We need to make a real dent in it. We need to be free”.


He’s completely right. I’ve been decluttering forever and I still feel completely buried by stuff. It’s overwhelming. As soon as I get rid of one carload at a swap meet, I start throwing things in boxes and piles until I have a messy spare room and another carload of stuff to get rid of.

How does that happen? Why is decluttering a neverending process? Is decluttering like a ‘to do list’, always promising to one day be empty, but always being overwhelmingly full? Judging by the growing minimalist movement, I’d say I’m not the only one struggling with this problem.

One reason for starting Buy Nothing Year was to stop new stuff coming into my life so I could actually have less stuff. It’s not ‘less’ if you get rid of three things in a week but buy five.

Buy Nothing Year is going well, but it’s only half of the equation. It’s time to start another challenge. It’s time to get serious about decluttering. It’s time to tackle this head on.

Stay tuned for my post on my decluttering challenge!

Oh, but it needs a catchy name. If my first challenge was Buy Nothing Year, maybe this should be Give Away Everything Year? Ditch All the Things Year? Clearly, I need help naming this challenge – what would you name it?


I’d love to hear from you. Are you decluttering? How are you doing it? What’s your best tip? What’s the hardest thing about decluttering? Or, if you’re not doing it – what’s stopping you?

My First 50 Days Of Buy Nothing Year

Wow! 50 days have already passed since I decided to buy nothing for a year. So how am I going?

Well, I have bought nothing except for food, medication, gifts & cards, dog beds & toys, and hubby bought us a chest freezer (for dog food). All are allowed in the rules.

How did I do it? It’s been really easy actually. Here’s the secret…


Don’t go into any shops!

The best way to resist temptation is to avoid it in the first place. This has been easy for me because I work in the city and buy my food from markets or very small shops. While I do walk past shops every day, I have no reason to actually go into one.

I did go to a community fête a few weeks back and found myself eyeing off stall after stall of stuff. I had to remind myself to look but not touch. This actually made me spend much less time looking – time that I spent talking with my friends instead.

Now, I did say that this was about clutter and the environment, not about money and so I will actually try to Acquire Nothing.

This is proving much more difficult. It’s amazing how easily free stuff creeps into my life even though I managed to say no to most of it! And yet, I have acquired:

  • a book
  • a CD with software on it
  • 3 jigsaw puzzles (I’m pretty sure they used to be mine before I gave them to mum, and now she’s given them to me – does this count?)
  • an ice cream container to use as a food scrap bin for the worm farm (it replaces one the dog chewed up when I left it outside one day)
  • a piece of furniture… literally a piece – it’s one part of a wall unit that had been at my parents’ house while I had the rest
  • a pen, sent to me as a ‘gift’ from a charity I’d donated to (I’ll be returning it to them)
  • a toy dinosaur that had come in a cocktail I ordered at a friend’s birthday party. I gave the dinosaur to the birthday girl but then she gifted it back (it’s my favourite dinosaur and it makes me so happy).

Perhaps it’s not the longest list, but it does show how easy it is for stuff to enter our lives unintentionally and often unnoticed. I think this might need to be the focus for the next 50 days of Buy Nothing Year.

I’d love to hear from you.

What do you think would be more difficult, giving up shipping or giving up free stuff?