Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Buying into Buy Nothing - confessions of a shopping addict

So Buy Nothing is a thing. I get it. We live in a very consumerist society. Advertising is everywhere; on the tv, radio, print media, social media and websites and of course emails. It's overwhelming.

Use Facebook and ads will pop up for anything and everything, usually targetted to your age and gender. Visit any number of websites and you'll find an ad for something you searched for on Google recently (I'm sure there's a way to stop my search data being used like that but I can't be arsed finding it out). Click me, they urge, go on - click!

As I have a bulging wardrobe and every kitchen utensil known to man, I committed to stop shopping on 1 July 2017 for a minimum of three months with the aim of stretching it to twelve months.

I confess to being somewhat of a shopping addict. In addition to food and toiletries, I buy clothes, shoes, makeup, books, music and sometimes household goods on a regular basis. The woman at my local dress shop calls me her best customer, although I've been 'good' lately and haven't bought anything from her for six weeks, and that was only the second thing I'd bought from her all year.

But I digress. If I can make it to three months, I can increase my Buy Nothing week by week, month by month. Little steps, regular milestones, will make it easier. Rather like someone in AA taking it one day at a time.

I can see why Buy Nothing is taking off, however. Firstly minimalism is back in vogue, so to achieve it, you need less. Then there's the problem of rubbish and landfill we in the west create.

As well as being a consumerist society, we are a throwaway society. Globalisation has seen fashion become an entity which churns out new designs on an apparently weekly basis. (In fact there is a shop at Kingsford Smith Airport in Sydney which promises new stock EVERY WEEK. Ye Gods.) With low labour costs in third world countries it's easy to spend $30-$50 for a new jumper or dress, or $10 on a t-shirt. I'm guilty. When H and M came to Australia I snapped up a handful of $7 t-shirts with absolute glee. After all, white t-shirts usually only last a year or two before they go grey or attract stains even Napisan can't remove. Then into the rubbish they go, too awful to even give to a charity shop.

My goodness, the amount of clothing that goes into landfill is terrifying. How wasteful we are as a society. How greedy. How eager to flash the plastic and buy more, more, more. I feel sorry for the fashionistas who are compelled to buy the latest look, racking up their credit cards to indecent levels, wearing items only a few times before chucking or donating. Because clothing IS so cheap these days, it is very much seen as throwaway after one season.

Granted, little of my clothing gets actually chucked out. Anything still decent goes to charity, damaged clothing gets used by me as cleaning rags before finally hitting the bin.  I get many years out of my clothes as most of what I buy is either fairly classic or interesting enough not to date. I have overcoats I've had for 20+ years and they're still fine.

The human cost behind producing cheap clothes for the western world is heartbreaking. Sweatshops, dangerous conditions, working hours which would cause strikes in Australia. Look at your clothing. Where is it made? Bangladesh? India? Turkey? China? Would you be prepared to pay, say, four times more for each item if it was made in your own country under decent working conditions?

And as for 'the middle aisle' in ALDI - oh, oh, oh! What a joy! The bits and pieces I have bought cheaply, such as weights and gym clothes, or a warm throw for the living room for a tiny $15, fill me with acquisitive delight. For I AM acquisitive, and it's something I'll have to overcome. I don't need more stuff. The majority of us don't need more stuff.


It's not as if I'm in my 20s and have just moved out of home and have to buy or acquire household goods on which to sit, or kitchen utensils and pots. I have it all. Mum left a house full of 'stuff' when she died and I'm still selling or giving away things in an effort to make the place less cluttered.

I'm going to find this Buy Nothing lark hard work I think. I have unsubscribed from various shoe and clothing email lists so I don't get tempted.

So if I'm buying nothing, what are the exceptions for me? Which non-nothings will sneak into the house aside from food etc for us and the animals?
  • Toiletries and cosmetics. I don't buy many cosmetics but I'm not going to go without an eyebrow pencil when my current one dies (local supermarket, $14, and seriously good).  And I don't go mad on toiletries like I used to 20 years ago. I estimate in the next 3 months I will have to buy toothpaste, soap, 1 bottle each of shampoo, conditioner, Nuxe Huile Prodiguese and Nutrimetics Nutri-Rich Oil as these are my staples and I'm running low on them. 
  • Nails. I like having nice nails. It's a pick me up luxury that costs me about $40/month.
  • Hair. Yes, my foils cost money but damned if I'm going to go grey.
  • Books. But only e-books as they are cheaper and don't take up physical space, or I'll rejoin the local library and borrow.
  • I may have to get supplies for my business such as paper and ink for the printer, but then I've always been frugal with my business.
  • Gifts for others' birthdays. Unless I have something I can make or something new I can regift. There are 3 birthdays I have to cater for so I'll have to be canny.

And that's it. For the next two and a half months at least. Wish me luck. Hope I can conquer this shopping addiction and be a Buy Nothing person.

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