How I quit buying new crap

Buy Nothing New Month posterI don’t know exactly when this started, but last year I spent a lot of time browsing the internet, looking for ways to enhance my thriftiness and found instructions on various money-saving activites:

  • Cook your own bread / pizza / stir-fry / etc.
  • Make your own cleaning products
  • Buy nothing you don’t need
  • But if you do need it, shop second-hand
  • Eat less meat
  • Line dry clothing

By chance, many of these activities also happen to be the environmentally-friendly option. So I felt good about myself … until I started reading up on other environmentally-friendly options that were out of my comfort zone (and could wind up costing me more money):

  • Buy all organic foods
  • Buy all local foods
  • Don’t shop online
  • Give up single-use plastic
  • Give up all single-use disposables

At first, I dismissed much of it as not for me but it kept coming up again and again. And I realized that maybe supporting all the chemicals that go into conventional farming isn’t such a great idea. Maybe recycling isn’t a perfect solution for dealing with plastic waste. Maybe getting a shirt made overseas from plastic thread by under-paid workers really isn’t such a great deal even on clearance.

So just over a year ago, I signed up for Buy Nothing New Month to evaluate how much I really need, and that month was nowhere near as hard as expected. The quick and dirty deals were so tempting, but it was a relief to not have to deal with the usual buyer’s remorse afterwards. BNN Month went so well that I decided to declare this year Buy Nothing New 2015. Yes, there have been a few cases where I really needed to buy something new and a few cases where I just gave in without good reason. But overall, I feel better about the things I do buy and am especially happy with spending a little more on food instead of on random clearance and sale-priced crap. And any other green habits I’ve picked up along the way, that’s all bonus.

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