buy nothing new for a month

If there is one thing I would truly love to inspire everyone around me to do…it’s to buy less. Everyone gets into decluttering and simplifying by buying great storage containers and having big cleanouts. But. Really. The only way to simplify your life and be responsible with your consumption – in many directions at once – is to buy less stuff in the first place. Including storage containers.

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Image via Photography Inspiration

Buying less saves time, it saves headaches, it saves storage angst, it saves relationships, it saves money and it saves the planet. Honestly. There is no reason to be wasting as much as we do. The facts are these:

  • A 2005 paper from the Australia Institute by Clive Hamilton Richard Denniss and David Baker tells us “Aussies have admitted to spending over $10 billion every year on goods we do not use: clothes and shoes, CDs, DVDs and food, and approximately $7 billion of that is food.
  •  Each year in Australia nearly 20 million tonnes of waste goes to landfill. By way of comparison, this amount exceeds spending by Australian governments on universities and roads.

I appreciate not everyone can wear the same pair of green shorts almost every day for four years (actually, it’s been two pairs, same colour, same size, for eight years). Or go without buying anything for 13 months. But I reckon we can all last a month without going to the shops and purchasing. And I also reckon we will all love it when we do. I know we will. I worked this out a few years ago and live by it. Try it!

Which is my segue to this: October is Buy Nothing New month. I don’t need to spell out the gist, do I…but background guff:

  • funded by the Brotherhood of St Laurence and Sacred Heart Mission, it’s a Nation-wide campaign to try to get Aussies to cut down on our spending.
  • if you’re joining in, you can still buy food, drink, medication, and hygiene products during the Buy Nothing New campaign.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE join me in not buying anything new. Yes?? The month has already started. No run-up. Time is nigh. Just. Don’t. Go. To. The. Shops. Easy.

Need some inspiration? How about these…

20 Tips for Buying Nothing New

* Buy second-hand clobber. Buy designer lables – second-hand – at these great outlets around the country. I bought the most amazing Christian Laboutin pink stiletto boots for $100 at BlueSpinach in Sydney…years before I knew what a red sole meant on the streets. eBay makes sharing of second hand goods easy and accessible. So does  Gumtree, and Freecycle, which is awesome – and free!

* Eat nothing in a packet: So says Eric Bana, another BNN ambassador. It’s the simplest motto for good eating, too. And for losing weight. Kill many birds with the same rock!

* Eat at Silo. Check out this fabulous cafe in Melbourne where they re-use EVERYTHING. Bravo to them.  I’ll be supporting the cause by running all my meetings while in Melbourne next week from here! Might see you there!

* OK. You’ll have to buy new food. Well, maybe not…try this ideas:

  • google ‘leftover recipes’ – you’ll be amazed at what you can do with leftovers!
  • shop to a specific list and buy only what you need.

* I cook in batches, using up the whole onion, the whole tin of tomatoes, all the beans. And I freeze what I don’t eat (which is more environmentally sound than storing the stuff in the fridge, anyway).

* When my veggies are looking lack-lustre, I make a big soup with lentils and bacon thrown in for flavour and protein. I stab-mix the lot. I juice fruit and beetroots and carrots. Or I make mish-mash meals.

* I don’t buy more until I’ve finished what I already have (in the fridge/pantry). I completely run out of yoghurt before I set out to buy another. That way I find myself then using up the last of the sour cream or cheese in the interim.

* For more, check out my thoughts on the love food hate waste campaign 

* Swap your clothes: Matt Paroz shared these tips on my blog a while back:

* If you’re in Melbourne October 8-12 check out The New Joneses – a family who will spend five days in a sustainable, pop-up apartment at FedSquare, entering in undies and bathrobes, bringing just the essentials and a scavenger list. Challenged to clothe themselves and fill their home with furniture, in the spirit of ‘new consumption’ The New Joneses will borrow, rent, swap or source their stuff second hand.

* Check out the local op-shop or weekend markets, or even the vintage section of Etsy.

* Try to source things second hand. Shop at charities like Brotherhood of St Laurence and Sacred Heart Mission, which extends the life of goods and supports our community.

Buy your books on line, second-hand… and help a charity.

* Share others’ power tools at

Holiday in someones else’s pad with I did all across Europe. Really, really easy and fun.

* Share a car with GoGet. You can read about my experiences with car-sharing here.

* Learn how to eat sustainably. Check out Sustainable Table for tips. And it’s a pretty website.

* Try some tips from Love Food Hate Waste. You’ll be wasting less food, saving the environment, and saving yourself some money.

* Learn how to make your own cleaning products from stuff in your pantry.

* Or, at the very least, buy your cleaning gear from Ecostore Australia.

To join Buy Nothing New month, take a pledge here with friends…

Tell me what you get up to…any clever ideas, swap meets, frock exchange links you love etc, and I’ll share here and on Twitter….



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