The End of The Year of Not Buying (Much) Stuff

Huh. I definitely didn’t think a year with (minimal) shopping would go by this quickly, but my Year of Not Buying Stuff is pretty much over. And you know what? I don’t even feel like running straight to Nordstrom and stocking up on red lipstick.

Well, as can be expected, I have had a few failings in my Year of Not Buying Stuff. Overall, I have purchased two pairs of jeans (because I can’t wear holey jeans to work), a skirt (for days when I have to dress nicely for work), and a gorgeous grey lace dress and silver ballet flats (because I had a moment of weakness while poking around online). I also purchased some gifts for family members, a dress to wear for my sister’s wedding, and a neck pillow because it was on sale in the airport and I had a layover in Atlanta (why???). Around my birthday, I blatantly cheated and gifted myself a single tube of red lipstick, and a SPF shirt to keep me from burning to a crisp on my motorcycle. And then, when my trusty old KitchenAid blender kicked the bucket and could not be persuaded to re-start, I did replace the blender. But I wanted to spell out a little more clearly why I even bothered with this challenge to myself. There are a few reasons that I passionately believe in, and they are all inter-related.

  1. I have WAY too much stuff. This isn’t particularly uncommon among Americans, or even in many other highly developed, commercialized countries, but accumulating and owning stuff isn’t bringing me any happiness, and it doesn’t benefit people I care about.
  2. Some of the people I care about benefiting are strangers to me – local shopkeepers, local producers of food and goods who conscientiously choose to participate in more ethical, better researched supply chains. The kind of places that don’t participate in this. I wanted to take a long time to think, to research, to learn, and to re-direct my economic power toward things that I actually believe in.
  3. Most of the “reasons” to buy stuff are manufactured reasons. Do I need to have at least thirty pairs of shoes to ensure my happiness? Nope. Do I really need to spend tons of money on expensive beauty products to transform my hideous face into something fit to be seen in public? Definitely not. In fact, my (adorable, not hideous at all!) face has been REALLY happy with me slathering coconut oil all over it instead of using moisturizers. In place of retail therapy, I have concentrated on better sources of happiness and peace that were already in my life: fuzz therapy (hanging out with my eternally wonderful dog), yoga therapy (okay, it’s just lying on the floor in savasana until I fall asleep but it still counts), and motorcycle therapy (self-explanatory). And guess what? It works for me.

    IMG_20140501_230647

    Seriously. How could you not just want to hug this dog?

  4. I want to be more connected with the stuff I do choose to have. To me, this means making more things myself. I inherited a sewing machine, had it serviced, and finally learned how to use the dang thing. I’ve been sewing things that are even fit to wear outside of the house! And I’ve been really inspired by people like Jillian Owens of Refashionista.net, who recycle thrifted clothes rather than participating in fast fashion. I experimented with Homemade Spa Day and invited my friends over to smear food on their faces, which was a surprise hit.
IMGP0374

That’s a whole bunch of edible skincare for less than $15, folks.

Bottom line for me – I have really, really enjoyed my Year of Not Buying Stuff. And even though it’s officially at an end, I’m not going to “make up for it.” It’s been wonderful living with a built-in response to any pressure to consume: “Oh, I’m not buying anything this year.” If you’re thinking about trying it – go for it!

Love, peace, and priorities,
Sumiko

 

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