"Oh my God, why would you do that?! You're so BRAVE..." ...is a response I got recently when I explained our Not Buying New Year to someone. I think some of friends and family have maybe been worried this challenge was financially motivated and we're in trouble. We're not.
Honestly, I don't think it should be controversial for someone to say “I’m not going to buy anything I don’t truly need." Maybe it seems incomprehensible because we’ve been so conditioned to believe we need 'stuff' all the time thanks to clever marketing (which even though I know it's subtly manipulative is still bloody hard to resist!!!). As a society we live with the normalisation of over-consumption: it’s normal to upgrade your devices annually, to own hundreds of items of clothing, to have 'new school year' uniform/pencil case/bag etc.), a new dress for every occasion in case, God forbid, we're photographed in the same outfit twice on socials, of Christmas Eve boxes, pyjamas and personalised birthday t-shirts that will only be worn once.
Most worryingly, it is normal seen as normal to go into debt to have all of this. All of this comes from an absolute place of privilege but actually the main lesson I have learned in the past six months is we have NEVER felt like we were missing out. The kids have barely noticed that their clothes, books, toys etc have been donated to us or they didn't have t-shirts saying "Today I am 4" and an elf with a box of treats.
Apart from the couple of items we've needed (shower head, period pants, phone and cake case) we never felt we couldn't make what we already had work for us and we certainly aren't lacking, in fact we're probably more grateful for what we have than if we had bought new. For me "Not Buying New" is a mindset; I used to believe my life was missing something and buying the 'thing' would fulfill me and bring happiness. Truth: I already had fulfilment, I just needed to stop and notice it rather than being the magpie distracted by the new shiny stuff.
This month we've become part of a book chain and clothing chain so hopefully we have more accountability to keep this mindset in check often and helping me to be more aware of what I own already, if I need it and can use it or actually if my life would be even better if I passed it along the chain. Some people think it's unnecessary organisation or overthinking but I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing. Being super aware of everything we own will help us make better decisions in the future and learning skills to make us more self-sufficient and less reliant on spending is a really good feeling. I'm thinking more about making gifts and cards I give to people, making more myself or enjoying sourcing secondhand, as well as an increased community vibe to sharing the stuff we already have.
So in short...another month of no new stuff (although there were some secondhand books, toys and school uniform) and more gratitude than ever.
Next month I'm going to do a round up of my favourite places to find out how to make and mend and source things Preloved so check back here then!💚