Buy Nothing New Month is over. During October, I didn't buy anything new except prescription medication. I didn't even buy any groceries, instead eating out with friends and using up items in my pantry. (I may have inadvertently stolen a banana but that is unrelated.) I made one second-hand purchase, a $5 book. I was given a vintage trunk by my aunt, which used to belong to my grandmother. Browsing through my bank and credit card statements for October, I paid for travel and transport (a hotel for next month, fuel, public transport), communication (phone and broadband bills), meals, mortgage, charity donations and membership of Doctors for the Environment.
What have I learnt from Buy Nothing New Month?
It was unexpectedly very easy. Only once did I regret not being able to buy something new - a
painting at an art show. However, I don't have any wall space for
new artworks (due to previous binge purchasing of art) and it was an
expensive painting so it worked out for the best.
I have too much stuff. I could go the rest of my life without buying anything new and still have too much stuff. This is probably why I buy lots of gifts for my friends and family, who probably also have too much stuff.
I waste a lot of time browsing stores. This often leads to purchases. Multiple times throughout the month I passed by stores and considered going inside but decided against it. Had I not been participating in Buy Nothing New Month I probably would have gone in and ended up buying something. I found this liberating and found I had more spare time to do other things.
It is far more enjoyable to dine out with friends than to eat alone at home. I should do it more often and support my favourite local restaurants serving local, organic and free range foods. Conversely, instead of buying lunch at work I am going to use up all those leftover meals in the freezer.
I am on multiple email and SMS marketing lists for stores. I
received, and deleted, multiple invitations to "secret" or short-term
sales events, special events and free shipping deals. These are all
local or independent stores selling ethically produced products so I'm
not going to unsubscribe from the mailing lists but I will think twice
about purchases and avoid impulse buying.
Instead of purchasing new (or even used) items, I should try to borrow them or source hand-me-downs from family and friends. I've lived in this city most of my life so I have a large network of family and friends that have also accumulated much stuff (especially as my parents have a tendency to hoard). I needed a phone for a teleconferences (my cordless phone only has a 40 minute battery life, which is shorter than most of my teleconferences) and instead of buying a new phone, I discovered that my parents have an old "dinosaur" model they're no longer using and could give me. I wanted a new kettle after my electric kettle died so my mother found their old stove-top kettle that I now actually prefer to an electric kettle. I needed a small piece of luggage for a week-long work trip and borrowed it from my father. My mother has since offered to buy me my own for Christmas but it's not something I'd use more than a few times a year so I declined.
Some "collaboration" websites shared by Buy Nothing New Month:
openshed.com.au share tools, appliances, musical instruments and more with neighbours
airbnb.com find accommodation around the world
ziilch.com free to list and free to take
meemeep.com move stuff
When I told people (especially retail employees) about Buy Nothing New Month, they mostly reacted as if it was a hardship or punishment, consoling me with, "Oh, you poor thing!" I didn't find it that way at all. I found that it liberated my time, my money and my creativity. I definitely want to try it again in future for longer than a month.
If you'd like to try buying nothing, November 24th, 2012, is Buy Nothing Day. It requires more planning than Buy Nothing New Month but is still very achievable. More about that closer to the date!