Thursday, July 15, 2010

No-Buy July: I Will Buy Nothing Unnecessary For A Month

I have decided not to buy anything unnecessary for a month, starting July 15. (Not precisely No-Buy July, but I thought the name was catchy.)

I will opt out of being a "consumer", and attempt simply to be a human being for a while.

I will still buy animal and vegetable products as I see fit, but I will avoid buying prepared foods, and I will avoid going to restaurants when I have a choice (travel may make it difficult).

I will buy things that are truly necessary for health, transportation, business continuity, and the fulfillment of outstanding obligations.

I may attend events.

Beyond that, I'm going to try not to buy things or spend money on anything.

Love to hear any thoughts anyone has about this.

I will give updates if there's interest.


Adrienne said...

You might enjoy the No-Spend-Month entries over on the Small Notebook ( I look forward to your updates.

Unknown said...

I've been on a buying diet most of my life because I always wanted to work as little as possible for money so I can feed the writing gods my time. I'm curious what motivated you to rein in the consumerism -- especially since you seem to already be on the homemade trail.

If you want to do some reading on the history of frugality, get this book at the library: "In Cheap We Trust: the story of a misunderstood American virtue" by Lauren Weber.

Michele Rapp said...

Good for you for giving this a try! You might like: Let us know what you learn/discover by doing this.

Natalie said...

It's not as hard as it sounds. I've been doing it for close to three years. Unemployment teaches you a lot about getting over the sensation of "want" and only focusing on need. Basically, we spent money on food, utilities, and keeping the cars going (okay, maybe just keeping one of the cars going, lol).

Andrew Chepaitis said...

I will join you.

emma said...

Have you heard of The 100 Thing Challenge?
The idea is that one should only own 100 personal items (the number is a little flexible). The bigger point is to challenge our consumer ways, to make one stop and think "is this important enough to be one of my "things"?" "Will I need to get rid of something before I add something?"
I applaud your efforts.

Alex Lewin said...

Adrienne--Thanks for the link. That's pretty funny, I hadn't seen that blog before, and I didn't know about "No Spend Month". Although it's very possible that I heard about it on NPR a year or two ago and forgot about it, only for it to emerge from my unconscious now.

Slightly different in the details, and slightly different in intent, but fundamentally very similar. Shopping for things we don't need *does* take a lot of time, and that time could be better spent on something else!

Alex Lewin said...

Amy, maybe I should just buy the book--isn't that easier than getting at the library?

Just kidding!

What brought me to it? That's a good question. First, I think I may have too much stuff. Just physical stuff in general. I have a lot of bike equipment, and while I like bikes, they also take up space. Enough kitchen equipment. Enough computer equipment. I seem to like equipment. And it takes up space.

All set for clothes. Plenty of books, and I haven't read them all. Etc.

All of this is fine, and I have no problem with most of it...except that I really don't like the feeling of being taken advantage of. And I think that in some cases, I'm being taken advantage of by the marketers! Selling me stuff I don't need!

Equipment is a little different, but when you look at processed foods, or at cosmetics, or at clothes, a lot of the time you're paying many, many times their production costs. The multiplier you are paying goes directly to support their branding and marketing. That's all there is to it.

I understand the value of branding and marketing, and I understand its power...and I want to make sure I don't get on the wrong end of it.

I would like to create and engage in activities and experiences that are not driven by commercial brands. My friends and I can create our own personal brands that are more relevant to us than some French soap company, or some multinational soda company, or some mediocre chain restaurant.

Etc. Maybe I need to write a more extensive blog post about my as-yet-not-fully-evolved thoughts on why I'm not buying stuff.

Thanks for the book suggestion. I've requested it from the local library. It was actually pretty easy. :-)

Alex Lewin said...

Michele, yah, I had seen that. Probably harder in NYC than here, because (a) kitchens are so tiny in NYC, and (b) there are so many restaurants in NYC, and they're open in the middle of the night.

Alex Lewin said...

Natalie, yes, you know, it hasn't been that hard really. I am probably being a little lenient with myself. I took "outstanding obligations" to mean my friend's birthday, which I had agreed to celebrate with him however he wished. (So we had some drinks and snacks with a third friend, and I split the bill with the third friend.)

But we're on day 7, and it's not really that bad.

Alex Lewin said...

andrew295, do tell--how's it going?!

Alex Lewin said...

Emma, the 100-item idea is interesting. I can definitely understand the appeal of it, especially for someone who needs to be mobile and light.

I think I would have a hard time with it, because I'm an engineer/tinkerer by temperament and sometimes by vocation. So when I was working in the computer industry, I had a lot of pieces of disassembled computers at my house, and while this wasn't really necessary, it did contribute, directly or indirectly, to my success at my work.

Similarly, now that health and food are my main things, I have a lot of kitchen stuff, bicycles, and so on. While I don't strictly "need" a lot of this or perhaps any of it, I might be stymied without it.

I think my biggest issue, an issue I was sort of circling around in a previous comment, is with buying stuff I don't need with a huge markup that benefits some company or individual I don't care about. Like a $40 shirt or a $10 glass of wine or yet another pair of socks that I don't need.

But let me think about it a little more.

Alex Lewin said...

Thanks all for the comments...I'll do a formal progress report one of these days soon...

Root said...

I like it thanks you very much :x
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