Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy No New Stuff Year!!!

For the New Year I'm jumping off the consumer bandwagon!

For a while now I've been thinking about the implications of all this stuff in my life. Stuff is cheap (Ok stuff like food and gas are not cheap) but by and large, stuff is cheap. I can buy a sweater now for roughly the same amount that I did in the 80's. I bought my husband a pair of slippers before Christmas for $7 at Old Navy. How much does a $7 pair of slippers cost to make in order to make any money for the store $0.70? Probably. If I take this slipper question to a logical conclusion, HOW does something get made so cheaply???-The answer, is something I probably don't want to look too closely at. Also, the whole "Made in China" thing has really made me take a good hard look at what I'm buying.

On top of that, lust for stuff costs money and time. I say I don't need anything else and yet, somehow, going into Target makes me feel differently. I don't like that.

I already have a lot of stuff (too much stuff) and this is the year that I'm going to get it all under control.

I've been thinking about doings something like "the Compact which you may or may not have about on the Internet. The basis of which is :

The Compact has several aims (more or less prioritized below):

  • To go beyond recycling in trying to counteract the negative global environmental and socioeconomic impacts of disposable consumer culture and to support local businesses, farms, etc. -- a step that, we hope, inherits the revolutionary impulse of the Mayflower Compact.
  • To reduce clutter and waste in our homes (as in trash Compact-er).
  • To simplify our lives (as in Calm-pact)
We've agreed to follow two principles (see exceptions etc. on our blog).

#1 Don't buy new products of any kind (from stores, web sites, etc.)
#2 Borrow, barter, or buy used.

This intrigues me. I always say I have ENOUGH STUFF to last me for years and I probably do. Do I??? This is the year to see. This is my year of NO NEW STUFF! Yes, that means that I'm buying nothing new for myself.

I'm going to mention a few exceptions to this proclamation though:

1) I won't bring my family along for the ride if they don't want to. I won't make my husband try and find a hose at a garage sale if ours bursts and we need a new one (Although I will try and find him one myself!) If he needs a hose he can get one. (and trust me, I won't make my husband need a new purse halfway through the year!) He's pretty on board though so at least he isn't looking at me like I've grown another head.
2) I draw the line at shoes and undies. Those can and will be bought new.
3) Same with some new clothes. I will buy them if I need them, but only when I need them and only what I need. (I don't need 5 pair of black sandals!) I'm not opposed to 2nd hand clothes and my daughter and I both have them. But if I need a shirt, I'm gonna buy a shirt.
4) Gifts.I'm not going to give my mom a used bathrobe for a present if she needs one although I will try and give clutter free gifts whenever possible.
5) Plants-These are food for my table and soul. I will try and buy most from seed, locally at plant sales for garden clubs and the such and by begging for freebies from my friend's gardens. I can't say I won't buy some outright though as I have a special garden project I am planning for spring.

What I will do:
1) Only buy what I NEED and can see an immediate use for (even 2nd hand items can get out of control if you don't watch it!)
2) Will try and buy local food when possible.
3) I will purchase personal hygiene items (but use up what I have before buying new)
4) NO new craft stuff. I have a BUNCH of projects I need to finish from knitting to furniture re-finishing. If a project needs something like paint or a sewing needle to finish them, then I'm not going to stress over that, I'll buy it if I have no other option. (I think it's better to spend $10 on some paint to finish something that's been sitting in the basement for a year!
5) Paint-I'm making an exception for this one as I want to paint a few of the rooms in the house this year and I want to use some authentic antique colors that I can only buy. This doesn't create clutter though!
Less consumables like paper plates, napkins, flatware, etc... I have a dishwasher already!

This also has some business implications for me as well.

1) For the past year I have been selling new and also antique/vintage items. Obviously, now the business with be just antiques. 2) Also, I get free boxes from the post office (but they are new) I will try and recycle boxes that other things have come in before using or ordering any more free boxes. (but I know at some points I will need to use new boxes)
2) I already use mostly recycled packing materials and will continue to do so.
3) I use tape and labels. I don't see how I could use second-hand products of this nature, so this will still be new stuff.

Perhaps I'm being buoyed by the fact that I got everything I need on my Christmas list (it wasn't that long!) . I see a few drawbacks as right now there are a few things I do want like a new faucet and light fixtures but I have some financial goals that I want to meet first anyway-I can think about those things later (or ask for them for my Birthday or Next Christmas.)

I'm not doing this to be a mayrter or in judgment of anyone else. It just feels right to me right now. You can watch the journey here as I will be giving updates and keeping tracking of what I do spend. I will, of course, still be Living Beautifully, Frugally.


lightening said...

Wow - what a challenge. Not sure I could manage that. I look forward to hearing about your progress. :-)

Christine said...

It should be interesting!!!

shari brewer said...

Hi and g'day from Australia - I've stumbled across your blog and am so pleased!! I've set this same or similar thing as a challenge for the 2009 calendar year and have been blogging about my preparation for it a bit - I hope it's ok for me to post a link to your blog???

Christine said...

Hi Shari!

It's completely ok to post a link! Thanks so much! I can't wait to check out your blog and your year doing this as well!!!