Buy Nothing New – year in review

3

January 15, 2010 by missmegany

Happy New Year!

Okay,
So I kinda slipped on the whole blog thing. (I’m sure lots of you are now talking to the computer saying “THAT’S a bit of an understatement.”) The Buy Nothing New challenge continued and went pretty well, but the blog updates were just nonexistent. For that, I apologise. I’m just not good at consistently writing things. This happened when I was little girl, and even later as a teenager, and kept trying to keep a diary. I’d get about 3 days into it, and get bored.


So now it’s a bit of a recap. Here we go:

I DIDN’T BUY


I sucessfully did not buy anything new for myself. Any of my biggest vices: craft supplies (at least not new), kitchen gadgets, home accessories or storage options.


I also didn’t buy any CDs, new clothes or shoes (my sneakers have holes in the back of both feet…. it’s fine unless it rains), socks or underwear (although Robin kept giving me pairs she got for free from Victoria’s Secret), jewellery or accessories, and or anything else cute that I wanted to get “just because”.


In fact, not only did I not buy any craft supplies, but I also ended up giving some away on freecycle. Not buying things just because I had a half-formed project in my head forced me to really look at what I had and realise that I didn’t need about 40 pairs of knitting needles… especially because I hadn’t done any knitting ALL year.

I BOUGHT:
Used – quite a few clothes, a bunch of books, an Etch-a-Sketch (!!), a couple pairs of shoes off eBay (and NONE of them fit!), some pillowcases (for their cute printed fabric), a beautiful blue travel typewriter from Belgium (a bit like this one, but a deeper shade of blue AND the travel case matches in colour! … oh, and some of the keys are different so it’s almost a QWERTY ), a set of cute retro cups (a lot like these ones), and probably some other stuff I can’t remember. It wasn’t too much, but it certainly allowed me some random needless purchased, and alowed me to get some stuff I needed.

I also bought new some supplies to fix up our old flat (a new shower curtain and paint, rollers and brushes to cover marks on the walls), but those all got left at the flat. I’m sure I bought a couple light bulbs, but those were exempt because you can’t buy them used. I think I may have bought one roll of tin foil ALL year, and no clingfilm. I started covering a lot of stuff with a baking sheet while cooking, and then we used a lot of random plastic tubs from takeaways, margarine, and yogurt instead of storing stuff with cling film.

Other new things were gifts for people (many were handmade, although not enough). I also got in the habit of buying postcards because they are like minigifts, but I could still support artists who’d made them and even keep them for a couple days. I bought some zines for The Art House to have as references, but I’ve been lazy and haven’t yet taken them there. Oops. I bought a LOT of stuff at the Craft and Zine Fair that I organised.

Unfortunately, I failed constantly at not buying “convenience” food, I bought quite a few packs of crisps while at gigs (although that could be argued as an “experience”), and some tea/chai while out and about. Probably less than during 2008, but it still wasn’t good.

FIXED (Macgyver style or otherwise)

A pair of shoes that were wearing out by adding heel supports that I had sitting in a drawer
A couple tops by darning
Two pairs of trousers (I still need to fix three more) by taking in the waist. Up until I learned how to do this, I didn’t have a single pair of trouers that fit me correctly–they all just sat on my hips, making the crotch of the trousers ridiculously low.

We also made do with our one-side-at-a-time toaster, glass roasting dishes doubling up as baking sheets, and I kept finding batteries and a never ending supply of dental floss sat around the house.

I LEARNED
Take care of your stuff. There are a lot of things that I wish I’d paid more attention to them. I lost my stainless steel water bottle by leaving it behind at a conference–you aren’t going to find that used. I misplaced other things, spilled stuff on clothes, and marked up our walls in the old flat so we had to buy paint and brushes. Not being able to buy new cured me of the disposable attitude we seem to have with our things.

“A stitch in time saves nine” is actually fairly accurate. Mending and repairing has been key. I’ve successfully learned to darn things (although my attempts are a bit clumsy), so unless you stared at the back of my green cardigan, you’d never know that there was a little hole at the top of it. I’m sure with practice and a wider range of colours and shared of thread, I’ll improve. I’ve thought about getting a darning mushroom, but I’m not entirely sure what you do with it.

Take stock of what you already have (and use it). There were lots of times where I’d tell myself that I “needed” something which wasn’t actually the case. I didn’t really need more tops or jumpers, as I already had stacks at home. A lot of my craft supplies got used up because I actually paid attention to what I had already, instead of buying things when I saw them. As a result, I have two sets of really adorable bunting made with floral prints I’d had for YEARS and hadn’t done anything with held up by some of the ribbon I’d bought ages ago without any real purpose intended.

If you’re going to buy something, go for quality. I really wish that I’d taken that advice when I bought the shoes that now have holes in them, or the baking sheets and cake pans that keep having the non-stick flake off. My mother has had the same baking sheets for almost my whole life. I need ones like that–I’ve gone through three sets in four years. With the money I’d spent, I could have bought really nice ones and saved myself a lot of hassle. The next pairs of shoes or boots that I buy are going to be ones I can get resoled by a cobbler. No more disposable shoes for me. I’m hoping to upgrade some of our freecycled furniture piece by piece to good quality antiques (or almost antiques)….or at least once we figure out which country we’re going to live in.

Avoid temptation and gain some perspective. I didn’t walk into West Quay for months on end last year. When I did, I tended not to look in the shop windows. I’m a bit better now, having actually gone into TopShop, H&M, Principles and Debenhams to look at what’s in style so I can see what I already have and what I might try to pick up used. But it was a lot easier not to walk into the kitchen supply shop in Winchester than it would have been to have to debate with myself why I should not buy something. I feel like I am much more aware of the act of shopping now, though, so I don’t feel as tempted to buy things. I’d bet that going for a couple months without shopping would do the same–you’d think about the process a bit more, consider whether or not you want something as much as you initially thought.

WOULD I DO IT AGAIN?
Absolutely. It wasn’t that difficult, but I’d try to get ALL gifts for people as handmade (by me or others) or secondhand if I did it again. I don’t feel like I suffered through the year, and most of the time I didn’t even think about the challenge.

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3 thoughts on “Buy Nothing New – year in review

  1. Jani says:

    Fab rundown of the year, well done Megan – I think coming in to talk about this one Green Friday would be great, would you be up for it?The tips were particularly good 😉

  2. Hillery says:

    Its an interesting concept. Make little, spend little, consequently pay minimal taxes but still consume the same level of public services as everyone else.I wonder ho long society would last if everyone tried this. But then who would produce the things you eschew purchasing. Your concept demands others buy new so you can benefit. Why not develop a concept of responsible consumption rather than a leach philosophy?

    • missmegany says:

      An interesting response, Hillery. I’ll have to think about this before giving a longer reply.

      One thing I didn’t blog much about is that I sought out ethical choices in my food (and continue to do so), so it wasn’t a year without consuming. I don’t know if you read the whole post, but I did mention buying new things that are of a good, lasting quality. Also, if you are buying used items from charity shops or antique shops, you are still paying VAT on the item (at least, I believe so).

      Maybe I should have stressed this more, but I actually didn’t buy much used this past year. It wasn’t a matter of leeching off of other people’s purchases, but just buying a bit less. This level of consumerism is still fairly new, so I’m sure the economy and society would adapt if people bought less.

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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.

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