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.
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!
For all those of you who live in the Netherlands, please check this site if you want to “give-and-swap”.
Please find an interview with me on DutchbuzZ.nl (9 October 2013) about this topic.
- October is “Buy Nothing New Month” – Join me! Are you up for the challenge? (recycledinteriors.org)