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:
- 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.
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?