Reflections on Buying Nothing New

A Bunch of Pretty Things I Did Not Buy | the beauty in simpleThe book “A Bunch of Pretty Things I Did Not Buy” came into my hands at just the right time. The author tells a story through words and art of her year of painting, rather than buying, the things she coveted. There’s much wisdom and humor on consumerism and living with less to be gleaned from these pages. I had been feeling worn out by my own self-imposed restriction of buying nothing new this year and this book picked me up, made me laugh, and renewed my dedication to opting-out of consumerism.

The Act of Not Shopping | the beauty in simpleI haven’t been completely successful in my pledge, but I wasn’t ever going for perfection. From the start I wanted to be aware and thoughtful of my buying habits and learn more about the affects buying stuff had on me and the world. For the most part I’ve been pretty good at saying “no” to new stuff, but there have been purchases that fall outside of my list of exceptions. In case you’re curious, here’s my list:

  • a pair of reading glasses
  • Montana and Wyoming road atlases gifted to my husband for Father’s Day
  • an iron to replace a broken one
  • 3 pairs of socks, a swim diaper, and a Klean Kanteen water bottle for my toddler
  • dorm and college supplies for my daughter, which I can’t even begin to itemize (in hindsight I would have handled this differently)
  • some undergarments
  • two shower curtains to replace dingy and torn curtains

There may be a few items I’m forgetting, but outside of the dorm/college stuff, the purchases of new things (and used for that matter) have been limited. No doubt I could have sourced most of these items used, or gone without, but admittedly I don’t always have the time, energy or discipline to go that route. I’ve learned a lot this year and wanted to share some of my reflections on buying nothing new.

It takes time to source things used. Con: I sometimes lack the energy to go on the hunt. Pro: This allows a pause in consumption that often results in the realization that the coveted item is really not needed or wanted.

Often the used item isn’t the quality or aesthetic I’m seeking. Con: I often have to settle and sometimes I don’t love what I get. Pro: I’ve come to actually prefer imperfections in objects. A patina tells a story.

The cost of used things are WAY cheaper. Con: It sometimes means I bring home more stuff than really necessary because it’s so cheap. It also makes it easy to throw the item back in the “waste stream” if I’m not in love. Pro: I generally don’t have the same attachment to used items, which makes it easy to declutter. The savings are substantial.

Going without is really the best choice. Con: Opting-out of consumerism is not widely supported and requires (for me) self-imposed rules to stay committed. Pro: Given enough time, which most often isn’t long, I’ve found that the “pretty things” I don’t buy are quickly forgotten about and not really needed.

Buyerarchy of Needs | the beauty in simpleIf you’re interested in reading more about my year of buying nothing new, go here, here, here, here, here and here. If you’re looking for further inspiration, check out my buy nothing new or simple living Pinterest boards and read “A Bunch of Pretty Things I Did Not Buy.” The benefits of opting-out have surprised me – they might surprise you too.

8 thoughts on “Reflections on Buying Nothing New

  1. I can’t say I’ve followed your path but I have been doing a lot of decluttering. Either selling or donating items for someone else to enjoy. It feels good to simplify and gives me an opportunity to focus on other more important aspects of my life!

    1. Our paths are all going to be different. I’m glad you’re on one that allows you to focus on what’s important. Susan, thanks for sharing! xo

  2. That book makes me laugh. She paints what she doesn’t buy. I Pin what I (mostly) don’t buy. I don’t buy because I’m trying not to consume much and because I can’t afford most of what I’d like. But I also (mostly) don’t buy second-hand because I hate shopping. I most definitely do not enjoy the thrill of the hunt. Consequently, I have a very small wardrobe indeed. Sigh.

    1. The book is funny, isn’t it?! I do the same and pin things I don’t buy, but I’m finding it’s not really helpful in my journey. It causes desire, rather than satisfaction. Placing rules on myself is helping me find balance. It sounds like your lack of interest in shopping is doing the same for you. I don’t love my wardrobe, but I love a small wardrobe. Good luck in your journey to limit consumption!

  3. I really like this post. The cons along with the pros tell the whole story of struggle to buck the pull of consumption. This can be tough work. I know it is for me… but it helps to know I’m not alone. 🙂

  4. You’re such an inspiration to me. It’s so valuable to talk about opting out of consumerism…it helps makes what is not usually considered normal into the new normal. I agree that like you I sometimes find cons with trying to purchase secondhand, but I don’t often talk about them because I don’t want to stigmatize secondhand further. But maybe that’s the wrong approach.

    1. Open conversations is what we all need because it’s not a black and white world and there are no perfect solutions. Thanks for chiming in on the conversation! And for what it’s worth, you inspire me too!

Leave a Reply