Building on the momentum of my last post, I decided to challenge myself to go a month without shopping. I have spent far too much time lately browsing my favorite sustainable fashion websites, buying pieces here and there, and then ultimately returning most of them when they don’t fit. This is such a waste of time, money, and resources, and it needs to stop.
I didn’t always spend so much time shopping, but lately this bad habit has sprung out of some combination of boredom and a desire to boost my mood. I think it started a few weeks ago after my dog passed away. I spent a lot of time looking after her, and when she passed, it left a void in my life. I unintentionally turned to online shopping as a way to fill the time, try to make myself feel better, and give myself anything to think about but her. This may be shocking, but guess what? It didn’t work.
There are so many other, better things I could be doing besides shopping, and I think the best way to force myself to stop is to quit cold turkey, so I’m committing to stop shopping during the month of September. And by “shopping,” I don’t just mean buying things, but also looking for things to potentially buy. No more browsing the internet for new shoes, no more window shopping, no more clicking on emails with the word “sale” in the subject line. Just for a month. Just to see if I can do it. Just to devote my time and money to more important things.
I was inspired to take on this challenge after reading author Ann Patchett’s op-ed in The New York Times about her decision to shop shopping for an entire year. I actually found the article through this more recent piece in The Atlantic about how online retailers have made it easier for people to accumulate more and more stuff. Both articles are fascinating, and I highly recommend giving them a read, but the op-ed is particularly inspiring in terms of turning ideas into action. In a society that encourages over-consumption, going a year without shopping is actually a pretty revolutionary act! And while I don’t think I’m ready to commit to a whole year, surely I can stop buying stuff for just a month.
I have adapted Patchett’s “year of no shopping” rules for my own use as follows:
- I cannot buy clothes or accessories.
- I can buy anything I would normally purchase at the grocery store, like food and toilet paper.
- I can buy consumables like deodorant and toothpaste, but only if I run out of what I have.
- I can buy tickets and eat out in restaurants (I think it’s important to spend money on experiences, rather than material things).
- I can buy gifts for the two birthdays and one wedding I will be celebrating this month, but I will try to select experiential gifts rather than material ones.
Finally, I want to acknowledge that this challenge comes from a place of privilege: it’s a choice for me to stop shopping for a month, not a necessity. Unlike many other people in the world, I am fortunate enough to have a stable job that allows me to not only meet my basic needs, but also to splurge on the occasional sustainable clothing item. While I certainly don’t make a lot of money at my day job, it’s enough that I don’t have to go on a fashion fast just to make ends meet. I am committing to this challenge because I think it will help me reduce my environmental impact and refocus my energy on the things that really matter.
If you are at all interesting in joining me for #NoSpendSeptember, I would love the company! And if you’ve ever done anything like this before, I would love to hear how it went, or any tips you might have for me! I’m looking forward to updating you on my progress after the first week!