October: Buy Nothing New Month


October is the “Buy nothing new month”. It is a “global movement for collective, conscientious consumption” and the idea started in Melbourne and spreaded to the Netherlands and the USA.

The challenge consists in not buying anything new – with exception for essentials like food, hygiene and medicines.

People is invited to think about their consumption in an alternative way. We should ask ourselves „Do I really need it?“ and if we do, „can I get it second-hand, borrow it or rent it?“. Let’s think about the alternatives and about where all our stuff comes from, where it goes when we’re done and what the alternatives could be. Let’s discover how we can extend the life of our stuff by transforming, readapting, reusing it in another way.

It is not only about not buying anything new, it’s also about being critical of everything we already own. It’s about letting go our possessions that we don’t really need anymore, about being clutter free and trying out a lighter lifestyle.

How to get rid of clutter:

The Buy Nothing New Month is the chance to declutter your home, which will give you more freedom in your life. You’ll discover little things you really need in your daily life and in the end: how big your house is. Possessing less things means less time to tidy up or look after and more time to spend with family and friends. We all experience this during our vacations, when we perfectly live – and enjoy! – having less luggage.

When you start getting rid of your clutter, you can consider what items you could sell for good money: eBay, Gumtree, Marktplaats (Netherlands) etc. are places to sell your used items. You can also sell used electronics through sites like Gazelle.com and Apple recycling center. Or you can host a sale. – In the US yard sales are more common than in Europe, but why not organising something similar with friends or acquaintances? You’ll always find someone who is interested in the items you don’t really need anymore. – Especially families constantly on the move will appreciate this: not only they can give away the items they don’t want to pack into boxes, but while relocating in a new place, they can easily find items second hand (and get to know new people).

Material decluttering (in your house etc.) will remove your mental clutter too. Clearing your life of clutter is liberating, a real catharsis. Betsy and Warren Talbot are two experts and authors of a great guideline called Getting Rid of It.

What about Gifts?

When you make the effort to consume less, making gifts seems to be impossible in our consumer driven society. Many of us are convinced that giving and getting a lot equals esteem and appreciation.

Participating in Buy nothing New Month doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to make presents this month. It might be difficult at the beginning, to get friends and family members used to giving and getting less on special occasions. It’s also very difficult to get over the feeling of not giving enough, but I assure you, it gets easier and easier with time. It will feel awkward at first, but it’s a win win situation for everyone in the long run.

A recipe, something from your own garden (veggies, flowers etc.), time, these are all gifts that are appreciated by most of us. You can print out a recipe or give the ingredients for a dish you know the friend would like. You can put the ingredients for muffins, a cake or a soup etc. in a jar and offer it as a gift, or bring homemade jam, sauce etc. Offering vegetables or flowers from your own garden is also a great gesture. Or what about offering your time as a present? In my opinion, time, nowadays, is the biggest and most precious gift we can make.

You can find more inspirations about how to do start the Buy Nothing New Month, more ideas about gifts during this month and read something about Why we buy and how Getting Rid of It (You’ll probably find these books in your local library!)

“If you want to feel rich, just count the things you have that money can’t buy” (unknown)

You can also get inspired by this TEDx talk from Graham Hill about “When less is more”, where he suggests three approaches:

1)    Edit ruthlessly and “clear the arteries of our lives” (3:06); to think before we buy.

2)    Think small: wanting space sufficiency. cfr. things that nest, stack and digitize.

3)    Make multifuncional spaces and housewares.

***

So, if you want to get rid of your affluenza (see about it here or here) try one month of not buying anything new, get some tips here and enjoy the difference.

You’ll save money, preserve resources, eliminate waste, manage time and live more simply. – If you manage to buy nothing new for a month, you will probably try to do the same for more weeks, months, maybe years. It’s a challenge at the beginning, but it’s really not difficult.

Would you like to join in? – I’ve done it last year in October, this year in January and February and know that it’s really worth it. – Good luck!

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18 responses to “October: Buy Nothing New Month

  1. My husband birthday is coming! I will do my best to come up with a present that I did not buy 0_o

    It´s going to be hard!

    A big hug from Budapest

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  2. This is Great! Perfect timing as we are in the middle of decluttering. With as much as we’ve moved, the amount we have still been able to accumulate is ridiculous. Thanks for bringing attention to this.

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  3. That’s really the perfect timing for you then, Marilyn! I hope you’ll find some of the sites I’ve linked to in the post helpful. I wish you all the best! – When are you supposed to move?

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  4. I love this idea! I think that this sort of approach to buying can be really relevant to being a parent. For example, my wife and I have bought quite a few things for our five month old son second hand (…which seems only sensible as he’ll grow out of so much stuff). I was really interested in the things that you mentioned about gifts as one of the things that I instantly thought about was that it’s my wife’s birthday this month. We had talked about organising some sorts of activities for each other’s birthday over the coming months rather than buying ‘things’. We did something like this for my first Father’s Day in April as we went to a pottery shop near us where you can make plates etc. that have paint footprints from your kid (…although maybe this still counts as buying new things). Oh well, will see how things go. Anyway, I’ve still got about three and a half hours to order onliine any new things that I fancy getting my wife for her birthday next month and still fit in with the not buying anything new month 🙂

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  5. I know that it’s a challenge, especially when there are many birthdays coming up… I have six friends and family members who celebrate their birthdays this month and don’t know yet what to get and do for three of them. I think that for your wife, this first birthday as a mum is a very special one and you don’t want to spoil it. As you say, you still have some time left to order something online… This is a valid reason to make an exception 😉
    As for other presents, I like the idea to do some activities together. It’s difficult to find something that doesn’t cost. It would be a great idea to collect ideas about this – for another post maybe. I love the idea of trading things. Like people used to do before using money.
    Let me know if you managed to buy less (or nothing ;-)) new this month.

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    • I think that I might just be able to manage this, even despite my wife’s birthday. As it happens, the main thing that she asked for was a new sling for carrying our six month old son. As fate would have it, the sling she wanted was a second hand one that she’d seen on the internet too! Will see if I can get / make / do a few other things that it in with the buy nothing new, which will probably mean making a homemade card.

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  6. How interesting and timely to see this post today! First of all, October is one of my kids’ birthday and last year, for instance, she chose to ask for donations instead of presents, and happily delivered the collected money to a pet shelter in our area. Second, I posted about consumerism in the beginning of September on my blog as I see many people wanting and buying new phones that come out when their old ones still work… Here is my post, if you’re interested: http://apathoflight.wordpress.com/2013/09/04/the-distracting-art-of-consumerism/
    Thanks for spreading the idea of realizing we do not need some new stuff we buy. I grew up in a family with financial difficulties and am therefore quite used to the idea. Yet to some people it is kind of mind-blowing; but it is never too late to change and honor our beautiful planet and its resources!
    Thereza

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    • Thereza, welcome to my blog! And thank you so much for your very interesting comment: I love the idea of your daughter asking for donations instead of getting a gift for herself on her birthday. I’m so glad I found your blog: you write about so many interesting topics all realted to this topic of consuming less, being more mindful and living in the now. In your post you mention a quote I really find appropriate:”The challenge for governments in the future will be to prevent man from effectively discovering his true self, and keeping humanity locked in consumerist materialism.” from Zbigniew Brzezinski.
      I think that too many people get distracted and to much attracted by a very consumerist way of life. Especially expats do benefit from a less consumistic life, because they usually move more frequently and are obliged to pack boxes and make major declutterings. Unfortunately consumism starts often very early, this is why I consider that teaching children (at home and at school!) about this would be a great start.

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