Many Australians are very good at buying and accumulating stuff and, unlike generations before us, not so good at re-using and repairing old stuff. But if it meant giving your bank balance – and the planet – a boost, could you go without shopping for one year?
There’s a movement, called Buy Nothing New, which challenges consumers to stop buying non-essential stuff and reassess what you need. At the same time it asks us to think about where things come from and the finite resources used to make them.
There’s a clever explanation on YouTube, which serves up startling revelations about the impact of consumption on the planet. The Story of Stuff, by American activist and filmmaker Annie Leonard reveals that we are running out of resources because we are using too much stuff. Ninety-nine percent of the stuff we harvest, mine, process, and transport is trashed within six months of sale in North America, says Leonard.
Tips for buying nothing new
While you have to pay for food, medicine and basic living items, pay the mortgage, utilities and credit card bills, Buy Nothing New campaign, asks consumers to stop spending money on the stuff we don’t need so we can increase our savings for the things we do.
Recycling, up-cycling, free-cycling and swishing… whatever you want to call it, Australians are increasingly swapping clothes, shoes and accessories rather than buying brand new. It’s ethical, eco-friendly, frugal and fun. Not only do people hold ‘swishing parties’ – swapping items with friends either as a charity event or just for fun (while recycling and saving money at the same time) but, there are several websites that have online swishes taking place; check out bigwardrobe.com and whatsmineisyours.com.
Buy Nothing New is not about going without nor is it Buy Nothing New, never. Visiting online markets and second-hand stores is encouraged, as is renting items and repairing goods, where possible. Don’t shop to alleviate boredom and consider your purchases carefully when you start buying new again. And for the big ticket items, be prepared to pay a premium for quality because you’re more likely to guarantee longevity of goods.
Finally, if you need further motivation to steer clear of the shops then consider the potential savings to be made in 12 months of buying nothing new. By reducing your monthly shopping bill by $500 and instead depositing it into a high-interest savings account with a rate of 6 percent, within the first year you’d be almost $6000 ahead! As for the environmental implications, the savings are even more significant. So the next time you find yourself at the till, ask yourself this: “Do I really need it?”