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.

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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.

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Spending time

It’s day 18 of Buy Nothing Year with nothing bought.

I was reading these 10 ways to stop shopping and thought about what makes me stop shopping. I really think it’s a habit you have to learn. I’ve taught myself to stop and ask myself ‘How will this make my life better?” with each purchase.

But it’s easy to kid yourself. “This dress will make me so happy because none of the 40 dresses I already own flatter me like this, and it has slightly larger polka dots than the three other polka dot dresses I have.”

It’s much easier to not even let yourself find a purchase to question by not going into or near any shops. A question I ask myself then is “What could I do instead?”

SpendingTime

How many hours have you spend browsing shelves and racks, trying on clothes, or just wandering around between shops? What could you have done with that time instead? I think it’s too easy to just fall into shopping by accident.

Last week, I found myself leaving work earlier than usual. I work in the city, surrounded by shops. I walked towards the bus station and thought “Maybe I should make the most of this extra time and have a look in some shops?” I even veered towards a gift shop, full of pretty things. It didn’t take long for me to catch myself falling into the trap.

Is mindlesss shopping (even if it’s just window shopping) really ‘making the most of it’? What else would I do with that time if I walked right past all the shops? I would squeeze in some extra play time with my dog and cuddle her and my husband. I think it’s pretty obvious which would make me happier. I really enjoyed my puppy play time.

Buy Nothing Year – The Rules!

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.

STOP-Buying-Crap

The rules for Buy Nothing New Year

My Buy Nothing New Year goes from 21 July 2015 until 20 July 2016.

What’s allowed:

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).

The exceptions:

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!”?

A lot of minimalism

My next post will be about why I decided to buy nothing for a year.

The real reason behind it is to have less stuff. Spending less money is a secondary benefit.

I’m not sure yet how I’ll capture the million reasons to buy less stuff in just one blog post. While I figure that out, here is a collection of Ted Talks about minimalism, as explained by people who are much more articulate than me.

Enjoy.

PS: It’s day 5 of Buy Nothing Year and so far I’ve only bought food, drink and yoga classes (all allowed – stay tuned for a post on the rules).

And so it starts

Are you a night owl? I’m cursed with a brain that wakes up when the sun goes down. It makes for all sorts of interesting ideas, thoughts, musing and decisions made in soft glow of the moon and my laptop screen. And so it was that last night, as my husband slept in our warm bed, I decided to start a year-long challenge:

The Buy Nothing Year

I’ve done it before. Kinda. 2013 was Buy Nothing New Year, where I pledged to cut waste and ditch consumerism by only buying secondhand… with some exceptions.

I got mariied that year, so of course wedding stuff had to be excluded, because planning a wedding is hard enough without any extra challenges! And we went to Brisbane, home of one of my favourite shops. I made an exception then – holiday purchases don’t count. And then there are gifts – we can’t stop buying those, can we? (although I did manage to buy most gifts secondhand).

I’m happy with how my Buy Nothing New Year went. I caved, I struggled, but I made it. And it changed my relationship with stuff, permanently. At the very least, I became very good and finding the things I wanted secondhand (this doesn’t always mean used!).

But it did feel like cheating. While I hardly set foot in shopping centres, my ebay and op shopping went through the roof. And I did have all those excuses (I mean exceptions) to fall back on. Inspired by an exceptional blog post by Blonde on a Budget, I decided to do another Buy Nothing New Year, but properly this time.

When I thought about it some more I realised that I already have everything I need to be happy. In fact, I have too much. Stuff it (pun intended), let’s just go all the way, let’s not buy anything at all. And why not declutter too!

No exceptions! Apart from food… and toilet paper… well, maybe some exceptions. But this time, the rules will be decided upfront, not changed and softened while I stand in a Brisbane shop admiring a dress on sale.

Stay tuned for a post explaining how my Buy Nothing Year will work, including all the rules and goals I’ve set for this challenge.

I hope you will join me over the next year as I try to make do with what I already have and get rid of what I don’t need. Take on your own challenge for a year, a month or a day, join in some discussion, or just read along. Either way, I hope to see you around!

x Ania