Buy Nothing New – For a Whole Year

Am I crazy? I’m considering challenging myself to buy nothing new, for an entire year.  Is it really possible?  There are two parts to this challenge:

1. Buy nothing new

2. Instead of buying something new try:

  • doing without
  • borrowing
  • using something else that I already have
  • making it myself
  • freecycling/hand-me-downs from friends
  • buying second hand

My reasons for doing this are part environmental and part personal.  I think the amount of stuff that people tend to buy nowadays is completely unsustainable, and the way our economy works we are encouraged to buy more and more stuff.  How is this supposed to work when we only have one planet to live on, and when people in countries like China are now starting to move towards this more materialistic, consumption-based way of life?  I’ve actually felt slightly ill this week thinking of everyone going shopping in the sales, haven’t we just spent the whole of December shopping and then been given tons of presents?  I also think that people forget that the three R’s of the environment are reduce, reuse, recycle in that order.

On a personal level, I really just want to simplify my life and declutter my house.  With our second baby due in the next few weeks, our spare room is no longer spare, and I’ve been working hard to get rid of all the junk we’ve accumulated over the years to make room for another actual human being in our home.  As a result of doing this I’ve started to feel that nearly all the stuff we own could be considered junk, in that we don’t really need it.  So not only am I going to buy nothing new, I’m going to try and avoid buying anything second hand, unless it’s essential.

I’m also trying to prioritise my spending.  I’d rather wear second hand clothes and use towels until they are threadbare and spend money on good quality food.  I really and truly believe that food is one of the most important things you can spend money on.  I’ll happily wear clothes from a charity shop but I avoid eating cheap food.  This is partly for health reasons as I feel healthier and have more energy when I eat better quality food, but also because I really like cooking and eating good food!  For this reason eating out is also ok in my book.  Good food is one of the great pleasures in life, and this challenge is not about being miserable.

However I am going to have a few exceptions, which are:

  • food (obviously!)
  • toiletries and medicines
  • baby essentials like nappies (although we mostly use cloth anyway)
  • art and craft materials
  • wool for knitting and crochet (this is my main hobby other than blogging)
  • gifts for other people (because I don’t expect other people to live by my values)
  • ebooks – I could borrow books from the library but with a toddler and soon a baby in tow I don’t exactly get much of a chance to browse the shelves.  Also my ebook reader will be much easier to use one handed when feeding the baby!
  • underwear and socks
  • gardening stuff (I share an allotment with a friend, see above re: food)
  • shoes – I think every person should have one pair of brand new good quality, season appropriate shoes for every day use.  In reality this probably means one pair of ‘normal’ shoes/trainers, one pair of boots for winter and one pair of sandals for summer.  For me I will only replace when mine wear out, for K (and later the baby) it will be as she grows and the seasons change.

Anything I do buy new I will prioritise finding an organic/recycled/eco-friendly/ethical option.

Want to join me in my quest to consume less and simplify your life?  Share your ‘rules’ in the comments below (or link to your own blog post).

Edit: I have removed kids clothing from the list because I already buy most of K’s clothes second hand and I’ve saved all her old clothes for the baby, so it really shouldn’t be too much effort to buy all of their clothes second hand. But I’ve added shoes instead.

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