fashion · fitness

Sam’s new year commitment: No buying continues

I’m reupping my no shopping commitment in face of failing during the post holiday sales. I didn’t quite make it through the holiday shopping without buying a few things for myself either.

I now own a pair of very sturdy and warm Canadian made black ankle boots that I can wear to work. I’m extra afraid of falling this year with my knee still in recovery. These have nice soles with serious treads. I do own snow boots but the snow boots are too warm and clunky for merely traipsing between buildings.

In the boxing day sales (online, I wouldn’t go to a store the day after Christmas) I impulse bought a red and black plaid jacket. Luckily rather than decide the no shopping year was over and I could go wild, after that I decided to start again and continue on. That’s my approach to streaks and failures of all sorts.

I also got some things I’m not buying as gifts for Christmas. I now have a new warm and fuzzy bathrobe, new PJs, slippers, and a fun two pom pom hat. Thanks Sarah. Thanks mum!

Sam snow shoeing in pink

But now it’s the new year, the no shopping challenge is back on. Here in the blog community Martha has been joining in on the no shopping challenge since the summer. Tracy is joining in for 2023.

The challenge has certainly made me think more about what I need. I have two black wool dress coats, one short and one knee length, that need replacing. I’m keeping a list for next year and even then will work on being more thoughtful and deliberate about my purchases.

I liked this Globe and Mail piece on making do, which is neither all about minimalism and capsule wardrobes and more about careful choices and repairing what you have, rather than continually searching for better and buying more.

Here’s the big picture problem,

“Our bloated culture of consumption extends far beyond clothing. Each year, Canadian adults spend about $9,000 for consumer packaged goods – about twice as much as 25 years ago. We replace our smartphones every 25 months. We swap out TVs like toothbrushes. We browse for Instant Pots, pet-hair-removal gloves and spa bath pillows when we’re at dinner, when we’re driving and when we’re drunk. Shopping isn’t just convenient; it’s inescapable. The shiny and new is seldom more than a click and a day away.

Unsurprisingly, we are drowning in stuff. Despite the average Canadian home doubling in size over the past generation – and family size shrinking – the self-storage industry is booming, with nearly 3,000 jam-packed facilities nationwide. And that’s just the stuff we keep: Landfills are overflowing. China has stopped taking much of our recycling. Africa is refusing our used clothing. And the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is one-and-a-half times the size of Ontario – and growing. Worse yet, we are spending money we don’t have: The average Canadian has about $30,000 of non-mortgage debt. Ralph Waldo Emerson put it best: “Things are in the saddle, And ride mankind.”

And here’s the making do approach explained.

“Making do is about taming the reflex to discard, replace or upgrade; it’s about using things well, and using them until they are used up. Taken literally, it simply means making something perform – making it do what it ought to do.

If Marie Kondo delights in discarding, making do is about agonizing over it, admitting that we probably should not have bought that thing in the first place. Instead of thanking our outgoing goods for their meagre service, per Ms. Kondo, making do means admonishing ourselves for being so thoughtless in the first place. Ditching something costs us, ecologically and cosmically; it should sting. And it should teach us to think more carefully about the real value of things.”

What’s your approach to shopping these days?

Now I know you might be wondering what the fitness tie in is to this topic. Partly it’s because sports clothes are one area where I over shop. I own a lot of workout gear for cycling and the gym. Partly it’s about mental health. Shopping isn’t the worst stress relieving activity out there but the too much stuff in my house makes me feel worse even if the shopping temporarily makes me feel better. Finally, there’s the feminism and the environment tie-in which is mattering to many of us more and more.

I’ve started making lists of things I’m tempted to buy so I can think about it when this year is over. Are these things I need, will they improve my life in some way, or are they just amusing?

So what I am not buying? Definitely I’m not making some impulse purchases on the internet. Today for example I’m not buying this hoodie, modelled on the Nazgul, from Lord of the Rings. I’m pretty sure it falls on the merely amusing side of things.

Nazgul hoodie

4 thoughts on “Sam’s new year commitment: No buying continues

  1. I am with you in spirit, even if I can’t reduce my shopping much more. I bought three new sports things last year (gear to winterize a bike, rain cape for cycling, sneakers). They were all great investments, but that was probably it for a while. I’ll make any new clothes myself, from the existing fabric stash – a great way to appreciate labour that goes into clothing.

  2. I really enjoyed and benefitted psychologically and financially from the no-buying challenge in 2022. I did buy a pair of rain booties and a replacement pair of Merrell Moab low-rise hiking shoes, AND a new helmet (on serious sale at REI) which I needed, as my old road helmet needed replacing. I want a pair of Chaco’s sandals, which I will buy. Then, I’m back to no buying until July 1. I liked the half-year-at-a-time commitment, too, which makes it feel not so scary.

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