The Challenge is to not buy anything new for 123 days. Why 123 days? Because I was inspired by this article 7 Eye Opening Lessons I Learned from Buying Nothing New for 200 days on 8/31 and 123 days was exactly the duration until New Year’s. The thought process is, if I can make it to New Year’s, I’ll be poised to kick off a fresh new year armed with new and improved (and considerably less prodigious) shopping habits. And YES, the Challenge encompasses Christmas, so it’s not for sissies.
The Challenge encourages alternatives to buying new, such as: thrifting, recycling, free-cycling, borrowing, making or (gasp!) just going without. What other ways can you think of to “not buy anything new”?
I’m sure everyone has their own definition of what constitutes “new” and since I’m embarking on this Challenge as a personal goal, I’ll leave it up to you to decide what’s new to you. As for myself, here are my personal guidelines.
What I will allow myself to buy:
- Food – of course.
- Services/supplies needed to do my job – Internet service, phone service, printer ink, gas for the car, etc.
- School supplies – This time of year I’m sure all parents got a list of “needed supplies” from their kids’ school, as did I. I’m not here to fight the system, so I will comply to the list. Keeping in mind of course that notebooks, paper, pencils and even packs of Crayola markers are supplies the kids need to do THEIR job, but a Hello Kitty backpack…. not so much. I have a perfectly serviceable and “like new” backpack from last year.
- Clothing basics – Socks, underwear, basic shoes, coats etc.
- Experiences – Movie or concert tickets, restaurant meals, plane tickets, admission to museums, beaches, parks, etc.
What I will avoid buying:
- Gifts for Kids – This one is going to be a challenge, especially this time of year when my kid is getting invited to a birthday party every 30 seconds. I really don’t think the birthday child needs another crappy plastic toy and the parents surely don’t want to end up tripping over it anyway. I’ll have to come up with some creative alternatives.
- Gifts for Adults – You people are old. You don’t need anything. If I really like you, I might make you something. If I really, really like you, I might intend to make you something but then never do it, but you’ll understand. We’re good.
- Holiday gifts – No, no, no and no. I’m sure Jesus was a swell guy but I sincerely doubt he wants me racking up a huge VISA bill and gifting useless widgets so that I can prove my love for my friends and family. I’m going to go Handmade Holidays all the way, yikes its already September – better get started on this one!
- Random stuff I don’t need – Sure, it’s cool. But what does it do? What’s it for? Do I need it? Do I already have something else that “does” pretty much the same thing? Are there any adequate substitutes? Can I just live without it? I’ll lie down until the feeling passes.
- Books – This one is a no-brainer. Used bookstore, eBooks, thrift store, my Dad’s bookcase, etc.
- Specialty kitchen gadgets –Have you ever watched Jacques Pepin’s cooking show? Do you see what tools he uses: a knife. Done.
- Housewares – Since I’m already trending towards Tiny House, I certainly don’t need or want any more housewares. In fact, I’ve been feverishly free-cycling the fodder I have already. This one will be no problem for me.
- Furniture – Again, Tiny House. I’m trying to GET RID of furniture.
- Specialty clothes or shoes – Anything that’s going to get worn once and then end up getting archived in the closet forever, such as New Year’s dresses, holiday outfits, a dress for Cousin Kitty’s wedding… forget it. I’ll thrift it, borrow it or dress up something I already have.
- Work clothes – I hate work. I’ll be damned if I’m going to buy any new clothes for it.
“Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes” – Henry David Thoreau
- Store bought decorations – A true testament to the overload of holiday décor is the fact they now make Halloween “trees”… and people buy them. No. Just no. There is enough beauty in nature to trick out my home for fall and even for Christmas. Contrary to what Michael’s would have you believe, there is a there is a natural source for pine cones… it’s called the ground.
- Costumes – I don’t personally dress up for Halloween because I’m not eight, but I surely have enough old t-shirts or sweat shirts to whip up any Ninja Turtle or Teen Titan that my son could dream up.
- Christmas Tree – No. I will not spend $80 to kill a perfectly nice tree that probably took 15-20 years to grow (not to mention all the gas and pollution that was incurred to truck it down there from Canada) only to toss its crispy, brown carcass on a snow bank a month later. I’ll make a DIY tree, thrift a fake tree or skip the damn tree.
- Craft supplies – This rather flies in the face of the Handmade Holidays, but I’m sure I have enough craft supplies for holiday gifting into the next decade.
- Fabric – Seriously, I reached S.A.B.L.E. (Stash Already Beyond Life Expectation) years ago. My real challenge will be to get rid of the fabric. Besides, I’m into knitting now.
My goals for this Challenge are to: save money, consume fewer resources, tread with a lighter footprint and to learn a greater appreciation of experiences over possessions.
Who wants to join me?