I love to shop. I always have and I always will. It doesn’t matter what I’m shopping for either. It’s one of my favorite pastimes. I could go shopping just to browse, whether I needed something or not.
My husband and I used to shop out of boredom. On a typical Saturday or Sunday, if we didn’t have any other plans, we would go to the mall. Almost always, we would come home with something new and almost always, we didn’t need what we bought. I can shop with anyone and everyone and I love shopping alone. Again, it’s a hobby of mine. I make a day of it. All I need is a latte and I’m off.
Most consumerism isn’t brought about by need. As a society, we just love stuff. We’re bombarded by flyers, sales incentives and commercials urging us to get out there and buy the newest shoes, cell phone, movie or electronic gadget. There is always some “deal” going on. Don’t get me wrong; I love a great two for one sale! The thing is, I would probably buy even though I didn’t need it. I love the feeling of something new. Nothing beats a new pair of shoes or jeans. But buying something just because it’s cheap doesn’t really make sense. I know I’m not the only one who’s been sucked in by these sales.
In the last few years however, things have changed. With the purchase of our first home and the birth of our twins, (I told you I loved a good two for one sale!), shopping for fun isn’t necessarily a priority. Frankly, I miss it. During my pregnancy I grew to the size of a small house. It’s been four and a half months and I’m not only back to pre-pregnancy weight, but I’ve lost a tiny bit extra. All I want to do is go out and buy an entirely new wardrobe! I feel amazing and I want the outside to match the inside. However, like I said, shopping is no longer important. In fact, it’s in the far distance along with going out to eat, going to movies, buying stuff for my house, etc. Basically, spending money has come to a halt. We don’t have the time and there’s often something more important on the list. Then there’s the simple fact that we pay for the house and our kids’ necessities before we think of anything extra. It’s just common sense. But it still sucks.
So, I have decided to turn this not so likeable situation into one that just might work. It seemed pretty drastic to me at first. However, I’ve been inspired by blogs, a little movie called No Impact Man and my own desire to add this to my list of eco-friendly things I do to create a positive life for myself and my family. This movement is called “Buy Nothing New”. Most people commit to this lifestyle for a year, but many bloggers out there, after experiencing the many benefits of this lifestyle, choose to do it permanently. Our family will only participate until the babies turn one in September. We’ll reevaluate after that point. It doesn’t seem that long, but ask me in a few months and my opinion might change.
I’ve read a lot on Buy Nothing New and some rules out there seemed too harsh for me. I know if I go that far, it would be way too hard to stick to it. I’d like to enjoy it, not feel enslaved by it. So here are the rules that we’ve outlined for our family.
· To reduce our impact on the environment, simplify our life, reduce clutter in our home, and save money in the process, we will not buy anything new until the babies’ first birthday. We will learn what things we can do without and meet our needs in creative ways. We will focus on our true priorities – our family and friends.
· Items we want may be gifts from others, borrowed from others or bought second hand.
· Gift cards that have not been used up may be put towards purchasing things we want.
· Food, hygiene, cleaning & safety products
· Baby necessities
· Socks & underwear (The idea of wearing used is totally out of the question!)
· Gifts for others (They aren’t choosing to do this project, we are).
· Activities/experiences with family & friends (Trips, festivals, etc.)
Continuing to Reduce Our Impact
· Use reusable coffee mugs/water bottles & shopping bags
· Buy items with the least packaging possible
· Only use disposable items if absolutely necessary
· Eat less take-out
· Shop more often for local products at the farmer’s market
· Lowering the heat – continuing to use our programmable thermostat
· Eat more vegetarian meals
So far, I love the project. Instead of spending time at the mall, shopping unnecessarily, my husband and I have spent more quality time together. We have gone for long walks, read more and enjoyed the company of our children and other family members and friends.
I am a very grateful person and I always have been. However, doing the project has made me become even more appreciative of all the “stuff” in my life. I take pride in using things until they really can’t be used any longer. I love finding a new use for something. I love spending more time at home and I am thankful for the small things – the smell of coffee, a great book. This project has already created positive changes in our life and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year brings!