I’m back! Or am I?

Yes, this is my first post in a while. A long while. Have I been shameful hiding because I went on a shopping spree and broke my Buy Nothing Year pledge?

I must confess I did buy something yesterday. Something I already own and that I don’t actually need. Something that definitely breaks the rules. But something I just wanted to buy SO MUCH that temptation got the better of me. What would break you?

For me, it was a yoga mat. And also, in a way, the reason I haven’t posted in a few months.

When I started this blog, I was mindful that I’m a pathological action addict. I do too much. I overcommit, I underestimate the effort required to do things and I overestimate my ability to do them. I start up a project and quickly burn out, because it’s just one of too many.

I didn’t want this blog to be another burn-out project. I didn’t want it becoming an energy-sucking chore. I started this blog because I wanted to document my Buy Nothing Year challenge and because I enjoy writing and have long wanted to try blogging. But I had to make a rule that if life got too hard, I would give myself permission to stop.

Life got too hard.

And I did give myself permission to stop. I’m quite proud of myself for doing this, as it’s an achievement in itself. I allowed myself to take a break, to set my own rules for what I ‘should’ do, to look after myself, and to not feel guilty about it.

So much so, that in 10 days I’m hopping on a plane to Bali for 10 days of massages, spa treatments, naps, books and yoga…. on my new yoga mat! It’s in the mail at the moment and I’m so excited to get it.

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Now, I’m sure I could have gotten by without a new mat. I’m sure you can borrow or hire a yoga mat in Bali. I mean.. it’s Bali! But….

Yes. There’s always a ‘but’. Here’s why I bought a yoga mat during Buy Nothing Year:

  1. The only yoga mat I’ve ever bought is about 15 years old now. It’s ripped, warped, stretched and squashed into random waves (no longer unfurls flat).
  2. I’ve been thinking about buying a new one for a few years now, but haven’t because I go to classes in a martial arts dojo that has the entire floor covered in thick matting (no at required at all!). I’d probably need a new mat if I ever changed yoga studios.
  3. My current mat is too thin for my dodgy knees, meaning I have to borrow a mat to double up with or to bring a towel or jumper to fold up under my knees for each kneeling or lunging pose.
  4. My current yoga mat has always annoyed me. The colours are too bright for class (I stand out like a sore, and very pink, thumb) and it’s way too short and narrow. I’m always having to adjust my poses just to fit onto the mat. It interrupts my flow and my focus, and frustration is not something you want to bring into your practice.

Are these reasons or justifications for buying a new mat?

The purpose of Buy Nothing Year is to help declutter by stopping the inflow of stuff into my life, to make me reassess what I really need, to break shopping habits, to change my relationship with stuff and to shift from mindless consumerism to intentional purchases.

It’s ok to own things. It’s ok to buy things. So long as they are the right things.

This will be the only yoga mat I buy for years. So I made sure it was a good one. One that is as ethical and sustainable as possible. I scoured the internet for yoga mats made of natural, biodegradable or compostable materials, made with minimal chemicals and packaging, made by a socially sustainable, ethical brand and one that is durable, high quality and enjoyable to own.

I bought a ‘Grounded’ Mukti Mat, made from natural (not petroleum derived) rubber and jute. And it’s even a local brand!

http://www.muktimats.com.au/products/grounded-mat
Mukti “Grounded’ Yoga Mat

 

My yoga mat is an intentional purchase. A mat is essential for home practice, which I want to do much more of. The mat will bring more yoga into my life, and yoga makes me happy and helathy. It is good for me physically, emotionally and mentally. The yoga mat will improve my life.

Of course, this is exactly the kind of thinking that results in ‘aspirational purchases’. “If I buy good running shoes, I will get fit”. “If I buy this treadmill, I will use it all the time”. Wrong. You’ll use it a couple of times and then it will gather dust for a few years until you finally chuck it out.

But in this case, I’ve been practicing yoga for nearly 15 years. I realised last year that my relationship with yoga has changed from something I try to do to something I can do. I no longer watch other people with envy and awe, wondering how they can bend like that. I am now comfortable enough with my practice to call myself a yogini and not feel like a fraud. I love yoga. I need yoga in my life. I am a yogini. I am going to Bali to practice yoga for 10 days. I am taking my new yoga mat. I will keep using my yoga many for many more years to come. And when it is old and worn and no longer usable, I will use it on my garden as weed matting, where it will slowly biodegrade and became part of the soil.

This is a good purchase. I am happy I’ve made it.

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Woman doing yoga at sunset, lotus position, copy space

But what have I been up to the last few months? What have and haven’t I bought? Have I failed at my challenge or am I still going strong? You’ll just have to wait until my next post to find out.. if I write one 😉

 

 

 

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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

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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.

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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.

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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?

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.

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…

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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.
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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?

Op Till You Drop!

Well my Buy Nothing Year is going well (Day 33). I haven’t bought anything new other than gifts and consumables. I am struggling a little with free items given to me by others, but more on that later.

Today, let’s talk about SHOPPING. Op shopping, to be precise. For those of you on the other half of the world, I’m talking about charity shops, second hand shops, good will shops, whatever you like to call them.

Australia’s National Op Shop Week started today and runs until August 30th, 2015.

Why this week? The start of spring is the most popular time of year for women to clear out their wardrobes. Nearly a quarter of women sort and de-clutter during September. That means a whole bunch of new stuff appearing in shops, and shopping heaven!

It’s also great timing for the Garage Sale Trail, which will be happening all over Australia on October 24th. If you’re a little behind in your spring clean or you’d like to make some money for your efforts, maybe it’s time to start planning your garage sale.

Here are some scary stats to motivate you to cull your wardrobe:unnamed

  • 62% of women have clothes that have never been worn or still have tags on.
  • 83% of women have clothes that they’ve only worn once or twice.

Luckily, it sounds like we’re already on to it:

  • 97% of Australian women have donated an item to a charity op shop at some point in their lives.
  • nearly 9 out of 10 women (88%) have purchased something from a charity op shop.

Before I started Buy Nothing Year, I did a Buy Nothing New Year. You have no idea how much time I spent on op shops that year. These are my top tips for celebrating National Op Shop Week:

Donate

Op shops aren’t just an easy way to get rid stuff you no longer want. They don’t make their money from the clothes, they make money from the sales. There are way more reasons why it’s better to shop second hand than buy new than I could fit into this post.

If you are donating, remember that anything you give has to be of good quality. Look at the item that you’re donating and ask yourself if you would buy it. Op shops have to do something with all the stuff they can’t sell. Some clothes might be turned into rags, but many items end up being thrown away. Don’t think that an op shop can throw something away just as easily as you can. Charities pay millions every year to dispose of rubbish and unusable ‘donations’. The more they throw out, the more they pay, and the less money they have for a good cause. Don’t be a dumper, be a donor!

The best thing to do is find out what each shop is willing to accept. Look at their website, give them a call, or bring your stuff to them during opening hours. Many charities will also collect items from your home. Check out these tips for how to donate to op shops.

Grab a bargain

You really can’t beat op shop prices. I’m still chuffed with an op shop purchase from a few months back. After already having scored a Cue top and several other fabulous work tops, I felt like a shoplifter upon finding an Alannah Hill top (worth at least $150) on the ‘Manager’s Special’ rack – for 50c! I was sure it was a mistake and had paranoid visions of someone catching me committing this fashion crime. I was certain that the instant I walked out of the store someone would come racing after me, yelling out that it was actually $20!

And you know what? I didn’t pay 50c for it. When the teller added up my purchases and named a price I wasn’t expecting, I felt even more like a criminal. I couldn’t even think clearly enough to do the math. I quickly grabbed my things before they realised and rushed out of the store, only to later realise… I’d been overcharged!! I’d paid $1!!!

I didn’t complain.

But don’t be fooled by the bargain

How many clothes have you bought because they were a steal, and then never (or rarely) wore? Pay attention to your inner dialogue when op shopping (or new shopping). Maybe you could relate to my typical shopping experience, which goes something like this:

“Hmm… this top is alright, I wonder how much it is… $1.25! Wow! That’s amazing! What a bargain, I must have it!”, I think as I quickly pull the top off the rack, miraculously adding it to my hand already holding 12 other items as I madly continue to hunt through the racks.

Later, as I stand frowning at the changing room mirror, the monologue becomes a conversation:

“It’s a bit tight under the bust.”

“Well I have just had a really big lunch. I’m sure it’ll fit once the curry goes down.”

“The straps keep slipping down.”

“I guess I could shorten them,” and as I pinch the straps to see how that might look “Yes, I can sew that up easily”, forgetting I have no sewing skills.

“I’m still not sure about the style.”

“Oh stuff it, it’s $1.25!”, and I rush to the checkout.

I would say that about 10% of my ‘bargains’ are well worn and loved, and make me happy every second I wear them. About 50% are ok – they’ll do. The other 40% annoy the hell out of me. They squeeze or scratch or flop or crease or slip or jab… or just don’t look right. They’re the first to go, but eventually all 90% of my unloved bargains end up being rehomed. So were they really a bargain? Would I have ‘saved’ more by keeping that $1.25 and saving myself the stress of imperfect clothing, clutter, and the ordeal of finding clothes a new home?

I’ve now started asking the same questions for a $1 item as I do for a $100 item. Do I love it? Will I still love it in a month, a year, 5 years? Is it durable? Do I need it? How will I get rid of it when I no longer need it? Is there a better alternative? Do I reeeaally need it? Shop within reason!

Find an op shop

So what are you waiting for? Head down to your local op shop to donate or upgrade your wardrobe or home (I am obsessed with buying old teapots). To find charity shops in Australia, check out this list or search using your postcode.

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I’d love to hear from you. Do you love op shops too? What’s the best/worst/weirdest thing you’ve ever bought?

A new thing

Hubby bought a chest freezer today and I’m so happy with it. I do feel like I’m cheating though. It’s silly to have purchase guilt over this when it fits within the rules.

The freezer counts as a pet purchase and furniture, both allowed, and was bought second hand. We’d been talking about getting one for a while. We have a large dog who eats a lot. We’ve been struggling to fit all her food into our tiny freezer in the fridge. With a chest freezer, we can bulk buy meat when we find it cheap, and not have the fortnightly stress of running out of food for her. It will make life so much easier!

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So why the guilt? Maybe it feels like the challenge has been to easy so far, because there are exceptions in the rules.

International Buy Nothing New Month is only a couple of months away (October). I think I might up the challenge and try to acquire absolutely nothing in October.

No exceptions. No gifts, no furniture, no dog stuff, no nothing. Only fresh produce like fruit, veg, bread and milk (and dog food). I have enough toiletries and pantry supplies to last a month.

The biggest challenge will be avoiding eating out – am I ready for that?

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.