My first "year of buying nothing" started the second day of January in 2010. I was back in southern Ontario after two years in South Korea, and I was working part-time at a local Chapters bookstore. I got the idea from a radio story about a family who had challenged themselves to go a year without buying anything. I was driving home when I heard this on the radio, and I realized Christmas had just passed the week before: I had everything I needed. And more.
"So you're not even going to buy a new toothbrush?" my brother inquired after I sat my family down in the family room to make my announcement. Yes, of course I will—I'm just not going to buy anything I don't need. No clothes, no books, no junk.
I didn't make it a year. At the Vancouver Olympics, I bought some new HBC red mittens to replace the pair I left in a taxi. (I still have them.) I bought a few books (from Chapters, of course, with my employee discount), though I will argue I bought fewer than I would have otherwise. And then I moved to Vancouver in August that year and dropped the challenge after I started buying (unnecessary) things for my new apartment. But I still consider it to be a successful eight months. While I didn't buy nothing, I certainly bought very few things. I avoided malls for the better part of that year, and all this time later, I still do.
So in 2017, after taking a look at my apartment and everything that's in it, I've decided to give it another shot. I spent a lot of time last year/year-and-a-half cleaning out my apartment—okay my closet, mostly. It felt good every time I carried a couple full bags down the street to my local thrift shop. And I've recently cleaned out my storage closet and bid adieu to my rarely-used skis, little-worn clothes and shoes, forgotten handbags, leftover luggage, surplus planters, and extra linens.
But mostly, I'm just so tired of extreme consumerism and corporations that don't even try to hide the fact that they want you to buy without thinking. "Find exactly what you weren't looking for," says HomeSense. Right. Okay. No thanks.
My goal once again is to not buy anything new, anything I don't need. (Experiences, though, like movie tickets and pedicures are fair game.) So how have I done so far?
Purchases since 1 January 2017:
- two sports bras (Full story: I bought one of the sports bras in December but it didn't fit. I considered, after making the challenge, that I shouldn't replace it. But I did, and even bought it in a second colour. Hey, they're zip-front and very comfortable, so what are you going to do?) — $74.47
- a new mattress (I've been using one left behind from the previous tenants) — $700
Have you ever stopped shopping for a period of time? How did you do? Would you ever give it a try?
Lead photo via flickr user Roman Kruglov