Buy Nothing New year – 2009


January 2, 2009 by missmegany

Right. I am ready to start my “Buy Nothing New” year. However, I think I need to set some ground rules and explain how this is going to combine/overlap/negate some of the original £74.65 plan.

To refresh, since I am a deadbeat and haven’t blogged in a long time, I wanted to:

– stop taking purchased goods for granted
– support local businesses/artists
– be aware of the consequences my purchases have on everything
else—consumerism as an interdependent practice (fair trade? Organic? Flown here
from Timbuktu? Could I support a local independent shop? Could I fix/mend/repair
what I have instead? Will I even still want/use this later on?)

But the question was how best to do that. (is that the right way to write that?) I think having a “buy nothing new” policy will help, because it will include tangible goods, but I can still support local businesses/artists by paying for experiences. It also will mean I can buy used if I want something, which will make the temptation a little less and the goal a little more achievable.

So, let’s start with The Compact rules. It only has two rules, so that’s fairly easy.

1. Don’t buy new products of any kind (from stores, web sites, etc.)
2. Borrow or buy used.

Now, the problem is that I’ll need to qualify those a little bit. Some things, like lightbulbs, you can’t buy used.

So, let’s add in some rules from Ruchi, aka Arduous.

1. I cannot buy any new durable goods.
2. I cannot buy any clothes. Period. This does not include shoes. (Why shouldn’t it include shoes? That’s bullcrap. They are still something new! I guess if I run out of ALL my shoes in a year and can’t wear any of them and need something to protect my feet, then I can buy a new pair. But I’m unlikely to get to that point.)
3. I can continue to use non-durable products I already own, but once I run out, I need to find the most environmentally friendly replacement.
(Unless she’s talking about cleaning products and shampoo, I’m not buying it.)
4. I can spend money on experiences- concerts, plays, museums, etc.
5. Presents are exempted from my ban on new goods, but I try and make a good faith effort to buy something either from a small independent artist or producer, or to buy my friends experiences.

So, I think that’s pretty good. I will not buy anything new, unless it’s food, cleaning products, etc. I am NOT doing this to save money, so my shampoo and soaps will continue to be made from natural products with very little packaging—if that means spending £5 for a shampoo bar from Lush, I think that’s a good option.

What if our toaster finally gives up the ghost? We’ll try freecycle first, then maybe that charity shops that sells used appliances, and then maybe buy a new one. Toasters are fairly related to food, and heating up our whole electric oven to make toast would be seriously wasteful. But, you may ask, won’t that toaster purchase be a gateway for all sorts of other cooking-related doo-dads? NO! Why? Because I won’t let it. I think I have a good grasp on the difference between a toaster and a cute little nutmeg grater/storage container.

Hey, what a minute, you might say, I haven’t signed up for buy nothing new…. What about my birthday/Christmas/wedding/bar mitzvah present? Never fear. I’ll be following Arduous’s (Arduous’ ??) suggestion that presents are exempt. Now, I’ll still try focusing on getting people events/experiences/services for gifts (they are cooler and make for great memories) or making gifts (I will NEVER make you a macaroni spray-painted frame though, don’t worry), and you might get 5 cool used books instead of 1 new book, but you’d screw up the binding on the new book eventually anyway….

If I can’t think of anything else, I will get people a new gift, but will probably be trying to buy a lot from The Art House (I AM the craft coordinator after all) or etsy, and will try to steer clear of unnecessary plastic crap. You didn’t want plastic crap for your birthday anyway, did you?

I like the Arduous “experiences” exemption. I know that Robin probably thinks that it’s cheating, but there are a few guidelines I will set for myself. An “experience” is just that—it’s about the whole sensory package. So a trip to the Tate is A-OK, as is paying for a gig. Does this mean I’ll splash out when McFly comes to the Guildhall? No. It also means no more band CDs or T-shirts…. Unless I’m buying them as a gift. Transportation I see as included in the “experience”—to get to London for a day out or to a gig or to see friends, I’ll need to get there. Plus, if I had a car, gas would be included.

What aren’t experiences? I think that going to a restaurant with Mac counts, but grabbing a sandwich while walking around town isn’t much of an “experience”. Sitting in a café while catching up with a friend is fine, but buying a Starbucks chai or a tea from the canteen upstairs wouldn’t.

Now, “buy nothing new” does NOT mean that I will now buy loads of stuff from eBay, charity shops, or consignment stores. I think that’s going against the spirit of the challenge. I will buy things used IF and WHEN I need them. Period.

Since I’m only human, I have a funny feeling that I might not always succeed. I’m hoping that I don’t need the equivalent of Crunchy Chicken’s weekly confessional. I don’t want to fail once a week! However, so that I keep this blog going (so Robin can’t call me a deadbeat), I might need to keep up my £74.65 challenge, add other challenges, or talk about non-spending related things… Maybe an explanation of all the things I keep myself busy with when I’m NOT spending money. Or musings. Or other items of interest. We’ll just have to see.

I hope this seriously reduces my plastic usage. However, food seems to be the biggest cause of trash in our flat. Until a bulk foods place opens up where we can bring our own canisters, I don’t know if I have a chance in hell of reducing my plastic by that much…. But I’ll sure try!

Here’s to pushing yourself. And to resolutions that are NOT just for the first two weeks in January.


One thought on “Buy Nothing New year – 2009

  1. Robin says:

    Could you please make up your own personal set of rules? I know you have the two sets from the other people, but would you mind doing the Megan Rules?

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Less and Less and More is all about enjoying more, all whilst worrying about less. Whether enjoying better health because you eat less junk, having more time for friends and family because you spend less time on acquiring, or lots of other big and little things that we want more of, I look at examples of people doing more.


Less and Less and More

Finding more in our gardens, our plates, our communities

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