decorating / homefront · it's all about me · shopping / or not

Reflecting on a year of buying nothing new

Being fifty-something, I’ve wised up to the fact that good living is not about “things”, it’s about experiences, and people … and relationships.

Twelve months ago I quietly embarked on a year of “buying nothing new” where I challenged myself to take a step back from consuming and, instead, to dance with the notion of restraint and mindful spending.

And dance I have. Merrily. Willingly. Enthusiastically. To the beat of a simpler, more meaningful drum.

Robyn Healey Portrait Collection, State Library of Victoria

Forgive me, for I have sinned three times. Yes, on three occasions, I purchased manufactured retail items. As I expected at the outset, the biggest challenge was not what I myself could do without but what I felt comfortable about imposing on others. Guilt is a powerful driver, is it not? All three “infringements” were gifts for young children. Despite the concession to mass-produced items, I did source them locally from small, independent retailers rather than big chain stores.

Not once have I personally felt deprived by my new regime. It helps that I have a pre-existing appreciation for vintage and pre-loved items and that I cherish fossicking in the dark recesses of an opportunity shop. With this challenge, I’ve dared myself to problem solve and seek out new ways of getting what I needed (or wanted). I’ve honed my thrifting skills (to laser sharpness) and turned intuition on (like a tap) to lead me to where I needed to be.

My house (and my life) are less cluttered and I’m richer. In many ways.

I value the things that have come into my world in this past year. I’ve earnt them. I’ve wanted them enough to search, to barter, to wait. And they’ve come with stories and conversations (rather than receipts and guilt).

When my ancient food processor and ageing blender succumbed (mostly to the rigours of chomping through raw food concoctions) within a few days of one another, I thought the game might be up. I reasoned it through and figured the ThermoMix craze could work in my favour. I was right, within ten days I had snagged a barely used Moulinex processor (with blender attachment, and every other attachment you can think of) for $25 from a woman at the trash and treasure market … she had upgraded to a ThermoMix.

When my bedside lamp malfunctioned (terminally) I “borrowed” one from the guest room and spent a couple of weeks looking for a replacement. I ended up with a matching pair of lovelies for $5 (the pair!), again at the trash and treasure market. They’re tall and elegant and lux, with black flocked shades and Coco Chanel-ish crystal-esque bases … like nothing I would normally buy. I adore them. For the first time ever, we have matching bedside lamps. It feels indulgent.

We’ve enjoyed growing more and more produce in our backyard veggie garden. I’ve got into the habit of harvesting a few salad greens as I need them. I’d never owned a salad spinner but realised one would be handy for washing and drying the salad greens. I added “salad spinner” to my thrifting list (yes, I have one). Over several weeks of purposeful searching, I failed to find a second-hand salad spinner in any of my thrifty haunts. Just before Christmas, my neighbour dropped off a Christmas gift … a salad spinner she’d found for a couple of dollars at the local opportunity shop. I love it! Most of all I love that my other neighbour heard the tale and shared with me that she uses her salad spinner to spin out her “delicates” rather than use the washing machine. Live and learn.

(By the way, my current thrifting list includes a beach tent, a plus-size tankini and a mid-sized cross-body travel bag. Let me know if you come across any in your travels.)

I spent less time (actually, NO time) browsing store catalogues, online shops and in-store sales. It feels like I’ve broken a nasty habit. Instead of reaching for my credit card, I’ve mostly hand-crafted gifts. I’ve mended and made-do with what I have. I’ve focussed on experiences and memories … not things.

My year of “buying nothing new” has rebooted my mindset to one of less (perhaps no?) consumerism and I like how that feels.

I’m on a roll, so, why not?

Bring on 2015, my second consecutive year of “buying nothing new”. Woohoot!

Now, of course, 2015 will be brimming with all sorts of other stuff. I have a slew of awesome convictions, giant goals and micro-aspirations to fire-up my thinking and my doing. I’m still getting my head around it all and working out how not to attach my commitment to the fleeting nature of NYE. Because, being fifty-something I’ve wised up to the fact that resolutions are not just for NYE. Like a Christmas puppy, they’re for life.








10 thoughts on “Reflecting on a year of buying nothing new

  1. What an amazing achievement! Congratulations. I would love to take a leaf out of your book as I am a bit of a shopaholic! Alas, I don’t think I have the self control and conviction that you have. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Kathy! It might be easier than you think. You could kick off with a month-long commitment or even a couple of weeks to try it on for size. Or not. 🙂

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