Personal Triumph Over “Stuff”

On January 1st, a CoHoot shared this victory message with the community….

I made it through an entire year of buying nothing new!!!

Last year, I read some blogs about choosing to save the earth’s resources by buying nothing new for an entire year. On the spur of the moment, I decided to give it a try. I didn’t talk much about it at first, because, I think, I didn’t know if I could stick with it, but I made it and now I’m wanting to talk about it.

People who had taken up the challenge chose what exceptions to make for themselves, like gifts or underwear. I chose to exclude food and consumables like soap and shampoo from the challenge. Hey, you gotta eat. A couple weeks into my “buy nothing” year, I needed printer paper and decided that as a functional community member and food bank manager I had to add paper to the list of consumables.

I did the commitment without any preparation, like shopping for underwear and socks to make it through the year with.  But what would be the point of shopping like crazy before I started the year? Or shopping like crazy at the end of the year?

According to “The Green Book”, Americans shop on average 24 minutes a day and spend $4 trillion each year. We are using up the earth’s resources and toxifying our planet to buy stuff that will end up in the landfill before long.

The first month was the hardest, with the most impulses to buy something, which is why I undertook this challenge in the first place. I saw in myself the desire to buy something just for the gratification it gave me and I didn’t like it. Christmas was hard with the dilemma of what to give as gifts, but I had the year to think about it.  Food, restaurant gift certificates, theater tickets, Netflix subscription, used books. This year we gave our daughter Laura trapeze lessons for her birthday which she appreciated way more than any “stuff”.

Those of you who know me, may recognize that this has been an easy challenge to take because I’m a dedicated garage saler. And it’s true, shopping for used stuff makes buying nothing new way easier and it’s more fun too.

For me, this is just one way to increase my awareness around a single conservation step and what I’ve noticed is that there are still lots of ways to waste resources. Traveling is a huge oil waster. And yes, I haven’t given up the clothes dryer yet. Showering and bathing uses a lot of water and the energy to heat it with. I’ll save my saga about showering and minute timers for another time…


Posted in Resilience, Sustainability.

One Comment

  1. Wow! Congratulations, what an experience? I’m trying to think of what the hardest thing to give up would be… and I realize that it would be convenience! I love knitting, and while I love spinning, if I grew and spun everything I knitted, it would really limit the amount of yarn I used, and things I would make! Same with ceremony tools like candles and sage smudges, or my clothes… although I buy most of them used anyway!

    I imagine that besides the victory of triumphing over your default settings of consumerism, it must have given you cause to appreciate time, and the joy of using something you had made or searched long and hard for in a used store 🙂

    This is a very inspiring idea, which will sit in the wings of my mind I think.
    In community,

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