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Buy Nothing Month(s)

I am not buying anything in January and February except books, food and toilet paper (which really represents the entire category of non-food essentials from toothpaste on but is limited to disposable items one actually does run out of and need. Therefore, lip gloss–which I am unlikely to run out of for several years–would be a no.)

Rob’s response was a mystified “Why?” Somebody else asked me to expand on the rules, and when I say “I”, does that include for the kids, too? What if, it was proposed, they need boots?

It pretty much all comes down to the definition of “need”. If one of them–and it would have to be Sam–were to honestly grow out of his boots, then yes, I’d buy boots. I’m unlikely to grow out of mine, though. And I don’t think he’ll grow out of his in the next two months. I would replace a lost hat only if it were the last remaining hat–well, actually, I think you really have to have three hats. But even with that standard they’d have to lose quite a few hats.

Which brings me to the question of why. Because I have at least seven winter hats that I can think of right this minute, and I don’t need any more. Because we have Christmas presents we still haven’t put away. Because I have drawers that don’t shut. Because WYATT has drawers that don’t shut. Because I suspect that a lot of this is really just a question of habit. I can buy one more shirt, so why shouldn’t I buy one more shirt?

I think I’d be happier if I spent less time ordering things online and more time doing other things. And yes, I’d contribute less to landfills, not to mention the energy required to produce all the stuff in the first place. And so often I buy another one of something because it’s cheap (read, made in China) and it’s easier to buy another one than to find or fix the first one.

Today I fixed Wyatt’s red sled with duct tape and a new rope, and so far it seems to be doing just fine.

I will shop again, I’m sure. I like shirts. Eventually (in about 4 months at the earliest) Sam at least will need new clothes, and Lily will need some indulgence of her need to wear pink at least with her hand-me-downs. But I think a lot of shopping may be similar to the Wal-mart efect–it’s amazing how little of what they sell you really need–if it’s 20 minutes away and you generally just don’t go.


One Response to “Buy Nothing Month(s)”

  1. JK says:

    Great piece.

    Have you seen http://www.paulgraham.com/stuff.html ?

    We all have way too much stuff.

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