This year I’m doing a one year no-buy, also known as a shopping ban. I’ve done this before with good results, but it has been a while and I feel like it is time to give it another go. I also did a little Q&A via Instagram, so read on if you’re interested!
Why am I doing a shopping ban? Well, aside from wanting to be less of a shit to the planet, I also want to see how much money I can save. The rules will be as follows:
- I can replace things that I wear out or run out of. Within reason of course: if I wear out one of my winter jackets I’ve got more backups than I would like to admit and I do not need a new one. I will only replace something I actually need to replace.
- I won’t be as strict with digital things like eBooks and movies, since they don’t take up physical space.
- That also goes for food, drink and travel, because experiences are better than things. I can buy prosecco and go to concerts.
Questions and answers
I posted on my Instagram story and asked if anyone had any questions about my shopping ban, and thankfully somebody did. It would have been very embarrassing otherwise, so thank you for that.
Q: Do you feel like actively “banning” it will make you actually want to buy stuff more?
A: No, not really. Thankfully I’m quite determined when I’ve made my mind up about something. Also, this is something I genuinely want to do. It’s not something I’m doing because I feel like I “should”. That mindset makes a big difference, I think.
Q: What have you learnt from previous bans that you will implement in your 2020 ban?
A: Firstly: That a little leeway is important. If I find a few amazing things throughout the year that I know I will really use and love – the kind where I know I will kick myself for months if I don’t buy them – I’m still going to pick them up. Secondly, I have learned that it is important to find the motivation that triggers you the most. Knowing that this is good for the environment is well and good, but if I’m being disgustingly honest with myself I know that what really motivates me is to hoard coin like I’m the lovechild of Scrooge McDuck and Smaug the dragon. It doesn’t sound as good as “I want to help combat climate change”, but gosh dangit, the end result will be just as good if not better. Oh and thirdly: It gets easier with practise.
Q: I’d love to know how you stop the “want”.
A: The easiest thing is to just not seek things out. I don’t go to stores unless I need something, and I don’t spend time window shopping online. I have also unfollowed most influencers on Instagram, YouTube etc. Personally I feel like it helps a lot to keep my end goal in mind: “Do I want my thirty-second lipstick, or do I want an apartment with a fireplace?”. That’s what works for me anyway, I’m sure motivation is quite an individual thing. Oh and I also take the time to have a proper look through my closet, makeup collection etc. every now and then. That usually stops me from feeling like I need something new.
Q: What will you do with your time when not shopping?
A: I don’t spend that much time shopping in the first place, so I don’t think it will be an issue. Probably binge watch the Bon Appétit YouTube channel even more than I already do.
Q: Have you found a shopping ban to influence your social life in any way?
A: It does make me feel a little bit like a party pooper sometimes, like when I join my friends on their shopping trips. Thankfully though we are much more likely to bond over food and trashy reality TV than over shopping.
Q: In previous shopping bans, what situations “forced” you to break it?
A: Ooh, illness, definitely. Nothing weakens impulse-control and determination like illness. Travel is also a big one, I find it really hard not to shop when I’m abroad.
Q: Any thoughts on the concept of shopping bans in general? This is not related to your shopping ban in particular, but I’ve found that as shopping bans become more popular and as environmental awareness increases, it’s almost like not buying stuff has become a visible symbol for being morally good – which can make it feel really bad when you actually do need to buy something, or when buying something is one of few available sources of joy/creativity/inclusion/making everyday life easier.
A: Good question! I think that’s probably the case with a lot of things – shopping bans, vegetarianism/veganism, choosing not to fly, choosing not to own a car – or even with things not related to environmentalism, like trying to eat healthier or work out more. It is completely possible to do these things without being a condescending ass about it, and likewise you should be able to watch somebody else do these things without feeling like it’s a personal attack on your life and choices. Nobody is perfect and nobody can do everything. My shopping ban is not an attack on your shopping trip, the same way your carrots aren’t an attack on my ice cream. Kumbaya and whatever. I’m really not paying attention to other people’s shopping carts.
Q: Are you doing any kind of savings challenge too?
A: Not exactly, but since I track my spending I know exactly how much I saved last year. I also know exactly how much I spent on clothing, makeup etc. So my goal for this year is to save as much as those two sums combined.
Q: When you do buy something do you have other guidelines for your purchases?
A: It must be an actual need, and I should look for a second hand version before I buy something brand new. Unless I need, you know, socks or a bra.
I was surprised nobody asked me if I’m allowed to buy plants, seeing as I own so goshdarned many. The answer is that I can, but only if they are super duper special and not very large, seeing as I only have space for a few more in our apartment.
That’s it! If you have any other questions, feel free to ask them in the comments.