Buy Nothing for Year Challenge …. did I make it?

posted in: Mindful Living, Yoga 2

One year ago, I took on a Buy Nothing For a Year challenge inspired by Buy Nothing Day
which was founded in Vancouver by artist Ted Dave in September of 1992. It was then promoted by Ad Busters magazine. For the first four years, it was observed.

Eventually, Buy Nothing Day made it’s way to being recognized on the Friday after American Thanksgiving (the day is infamously known as Black Friday).

You can read my original blog post on my challenge here

Now, of course, I had some parameters around this challenge I couldn’t just buy NOTHING for a year so the exceptions I allowed for were:

  • Food
  • Vitamins, supplements and medical needs
  • Cosmetics (although I may not need to for a year)
  • Toiletries (I make a lot of my own anyway)
  • Textbooks for school (which I will try to buy used)

The final pledge was that IF any of the electronics I need for work (phone, laptop, iPad or video camera) died before the year was up I could replace them, ideally with a second-hand version.

You see the challenge wasn’t about not spending money or not having things I need.

Instead, it was about excess THINGS. The unneeded stuff, consumer goods, materialism the impulse buys and the ‘just because it’s so cute’ purchases. 

I kept a Pinterest board throughout the challenge so that I could look back a year later and see if I still really wanted the items or if they were just an impulse buy you can see that board here.

So one year later how did I do? Did I actually stick to it?


The yes the no and the grey areas.

In hindsight, I also should have added stationary to that list above of things I was allowed to buy. I completely forgot about things like pen refills, tape, tacks, staples and paper all of which I needed throughout the year and bought. 

I also had to buy headphones and a charging cord for my iPhone which I’m just going to add to the electronics caveat above.

The no

Early on in the challenge, I temporarily misplaced my bike lights (although I thought they were gone for good). 

After walking my bike home four nights in a row. Searching everywhere. Calling every place I had been, to see if they had been turned in to the lost and found. I finally gave up and bought new bike lights (only to have them found two weeks later).

We also moved during this challenge. Truth be told, I would not have taken on the challenge had I known that we would be moving. It always seems that you need to buy a few things and get rid of other things in each move. 

In regards to the move, I bought a small container of filler for holes in the walls, a tiny container of paint, and four hooks to hang things in the utility closet.

Now that the challenge is over, I’ll be getting curtains and a couple of curtain rods.


The Grey Area 

During this year I took on a part-time job in addition to teaching Yoga at a little boutique of that my friend owned.

This gave me some part-time income and gave her the comfort of having some extra reliable help. 

But when you work retail that means you have to wear the goods. Because she knew I was doing the challenge, she offered to trade clothing in place of wages for my first couple shifts.

So although technically I didn’t ‘buy’ any clothing, I did bring more clothing in that I didn’t need. Five items to be exact which I mixed and matched on the days that I worked. 

So there you have it one year later! Honestly, it wasn’t that hard for the first few months I had to remind myself when tempted to buy something but after that, it just became part of my lifestyle.

So now a challenge for you! A buy nothing for a year challenge might feel like too much for you but what if you chose just one thing (something you already have too much of) and vowed not to buy that for a year? 

Let me know in the comments what’s one thing you could vow to not buy for a year?




Know anyone that could benefit from some Yoga help? Share this!

2 Responses

  1. Nik
    | Reply

    Great idea, and good on you! I do try to buy less, and have succeeded in some areas such as waiting till electronics die or clothes are looking old and keeping my old car running. I also have my weaknesses, but it isn’t about perfection, it’s about direction!

  2. Debra Bunston
    | Reply

    Hi Nyk and CONGRATULATIONS!!! I had no doubt that you would do an excellent job of this. Whether you bought a few necessaries is less newsworthy than the fact that you can list them in such detail. Most of us probably can’t remember what we bought in the last week.

    Last spring, we moved from our rental to our permanent home in Comox and I’m sure we made up for all the buying you did not do! YIKES! However, now that we are settled, we have developed a buying policy that has worked well and is kinda fun too….if you like digging around thrift shops. The policy is that when we need something, our first stop is the local thrift shops. We’ve made some good finds on furniture, household goods and clothing and this is where I shopped on Black Friday. I bought a desk chair, 3 baking pans, some beer glasses and a tea pot at these shops and spent about $60.00. Buying new would be at least 4 X that and at least some of my $ will go on to do some charitable work. Not up to your standards and I will keep your story in mind the next time we think we “need” something! All the best to you and Amos. Deb and Pete

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *