I need more boundaries

385428_10150435859463143_1946831023_nLast year I completed my ‘no shopping’ challenge. As you’d know, I found it easier than expected and enjoyed feeling liberated from my consumerist lifestyle.

Then the end of the year came.

I was free.

And as I have so often found before, freedom without boundaries leads to bondage.

Restarting shopping came with several unexpected pitfalls.

Judgement: People who had watched my ‘non-consumerist’ journey, now felt free to judge my every purchase. All of a sudden I was a hypocrite.

Extravagence: Over the year, I’d had a build up of things that I needed, so when the end of the year came, I bought a lot of stuff. I felt myself begin to slide down the slippery slope towards the pit that I’d spent a year climbing out of; my love of shopping came oozing back.

That sick, icky, guilty feeling: I loved shopping again, but I wasn’t feeling good. I felt like someone who had been on a healthy diet for a year, and had then gone out and eaten cake, and chips, and chocolate. Not in excess… I wasn’t being excessive, but my body was used to better things.

So now it’s the end of January, and I know I need boundaries. This year, apart from op shopping, I’ll buy only one new thing per month. And if it’s clothing, I’ll do it ethically. I want to be calculated and think about what I need. And I want to be free to give more.

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Things I’ve learned from killing consumerism #14 – I did it!

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Today marks the final day of my no-shopping challenge. When I started at the beginning of the year, I was fairly confident it was doable and fully confident it would be painful.

I was surprised.

What I’ve learned most this year is that going without, when you already have so much, is not only doable, but easy. I can probably count on one hand the number of times this year that not buying something was actually really difficult.

Instead, this whole experience was liberating.

I’ve been challenged to live simply, to give more and to consume less. It sickens me how much stuff I bought that I didn’t need; how retail therapy was such a go-to thing for me and how stress inducing that rollercoaster of see-want-consume-see-want-consume is.

My strict no shopping days are over but I’m also determined to guard myself against ‘relapse.’ I’m a convert. Consumerism no longer holds me and I hope that I’ll live a more simple giving-focused life for many years to come.

My journey isn’t over. I already have a plan for next year’s project (stand by), but I want to put out this challenge:

Make 2016 your year of killing consumerism. I did it. You can too. All you need is to make the decision and you’re 80% of the way there.

Things I’ve learned from Killing Consumerism #9 – I bought something, but I can totally justify it

2015-07-06 21.34.33It’s time to confess.

I vowed to be honest at the beginning of the year about anything I did buy this year, so here’s the rundown.

I bought a book. I bought it online while at work. I got it sent to work. It’s to check out to possibly have on the curriculum at work. I’ll claim it on tax. I think that’s ok.

I bought a pot. It is a black flowerpot that I was intending to plant my coriander in. It cost 74c. It’s too big anyway and I’d completely forgot I wasn’t supposed to buy it until I already had. I think I’ll take it back.

I bought a No Junk Mail sign. It cost me $3.95 from Bunnings. I knew it was stretching the rules, but you know what? It’s worth it. Now when I drive past my mailbox in the mornings and see all the junk spilling out of everyone else’s slot, mine is clear. No longer will I be assailed by the tirade of consumeristic, promotional rubbish. No longer will those mountains of paper be wasted on me.

I used to enjoy flicking through the junk mail, but no longer. It’s taken me 6 months of buying nothing to finally make the move, and I had to break the rules to do it, but I’m not looking back.

Things I’ve learned from Killing Consumerism #8 – Consuming makes the world go ’round?

In general, when people have asked me about my non-shopping project this year, they’ve been somewhat impressed. I get lots of questions about how hard it is and what I do and don’t buy and how I’m coping.

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This question, over lunch one Sunday, was a new one:

‘But doesn’t our economy rely on consumerism?’

Now that, I hadn’t thought of.

If westerners, presumably the largest consumer body in the world, ceased to consume to the same excessive extent that we do, would our economies, or even the economies of many poorer countries that support our habits, collapse?

Has the world become reliant on our greed and excess?

I don’t know. But it doesn’t really worry me for two reasons:

  1. I don’t see a large-scale departure from our consumerist ways, and
  2. I think it’s more of a moral issue than an economic one.

Greed and gorging on excess is something that should probably prick the conscience of any moralist. I think we can all afford to depart from excessive consumerism on moral grounds, and leave the economy to God.

After all, when a country sticks to God’s moral law, things tend to go pretty well.

Go figure.

Things I’ve learned from killing consumerism #6- I’m still hungover from my drunkenness

I’ve been trying to figure out why it’s been so ridiculously easy for me to quit shopping. So easy, in fact, that I’ve felt like I must be cheating somehow.

empty-glass--wine_19-135581There are three options that I can see:

  1. I was never really hooked in the first place
  2. I’m finding enough loopholes to keep up the habit anyway
  3. I’m still hungover from my drunkenness.

I think it’s probably a combination of all three, but the most interesting one is the latter. I’m not a drinker, but I get the impression that when you’re hungover, you really don’t feel the need for another drink. Quitting shopping is easy when you’ve been drunk off of consumerism so long that there is actually nothing you could possibly need.

The deal was that if I needed something, instead of buying, I’d make, or borrow, or swap. It has been two and a half months and I’ve neither made, nor borrowed, nor swapped. I’m full up of stuff.

So why on earth did I shop before? I guess it must have been a hobby; a past time or entertainment.

So now? Well I just replace it with dinners or friends or reading or whatever else I feel like doing and that is that. Because at the moment there’s nothing I need. I’m still drunk from before.

Things I’ve learned from killing consumerism #3 – It’s nice to have the decision made

A couple of weeks ago, just after starting my no-shopping challenge, I went into town with some friends. It’s Fringe festival time in Adelaide and the city is full of funky markets and cool hippie buying opportunities. I could have bought ten things.beauty_fashion_hippie_natural_fashion_photography_photography-620e571c7edba076f5a7d986c7f9e1ef_h

There was a beautiful scarf for $20 (which I totally didn’t need but it was pretty) and some cute coasters that would have gone well in my house. (Seriously, since when do I buy coasters??) There were little earrings with fragments of classic books pasted inside (I mean who doesn’t want quotes from To Kill a Mockingbird on their ears?) and second hand hippie clothes that I could surely pull off wearing (at least once a year at fringe time when all the weirdos come out.)

Every time I saw something I felt something familiar. Maybe it’s not normal, but it’s familiar to me. It’s a mild anxiety. It has an undertone of ‘I want. I want I want,’ and an anxious overtone of ‘I don’t know if I should spend the money. Do I really need it?’ BUT ‘I want. I want. I want.’

The familiar feeling was there. But there was no wrestling with it, because I already knew the answer. It didn’t matter if it was a one-of-a-kind-exotic-bargain; I wasn’t buying it. And it was actually nice. The decision was made.

Things I’ve learned from killing consumerism #2 – The difference between want and need

black-tea-1121435-mThe other week I learned the difference between want and need.

Here it is: I want a tea strainer. I need tweezers.

Somehow in the house move, my tweezers got lost. And it was my first anti-shopping crisis. I put tweezers in the category of cosmetics, and I wasn’t going to be buying those. I looked everywhere, and with every box that they weren’t in, the visions got more horrifying. I may not be the best eyebrow groomer around, but after a year of no tweezers, everyone would know just how good I’ve been til now!

I could not go the rest of the year without tweezers.

I consulted a friend. She offered to buy some to lend me, but I figured if I was going to cheat like that I may as well buy my own. So I did it. I bought tweezers. Maybe it was cheating, but I decided I don’t care. I really need tweezers.

On the same day as the tweezer incident, I decided to go into T2. Maybe it’s cheating again, but tea counts as groceries and if I can’t buy anything else, I can at least buy nice tea. But there was a problem. See T2 offers hundreds of tea varieties, but only about 8 come in teabags. I’m not sure I’ve ever in my life made tea without a tea bag, but suddenly I just had to be able to buy crème burlee, or red or special sleep tea. But I didn’t have a tea strainer. The friend I was with offered to buy me one (bless her, I have amazing friends) but that totally defeats the purpose. So for now I am loose leaf free. Because I really don’t need a tea strainer.

P.S. I have to make a confession. The day after writing this post I opened my cutlery drawer, and guess what I found? A tea strainer. One that I’ve probably had for years and never used. Case in point. I need to stop buying stuff. Except maybe some loose leaf tea…