I’m nearing the end my year of not shopping. Not unnecessarily buying clothing, toiletries, nail varnish, books, stationary. All the things that would be nice to have but I don’t need.
I’ve bent my rules a little over the year, buying ebooks that I want to read, especially when my library doesn’t have a copy on hand, and I’ve bought four items knowingly – a teething necklace (complete waste of time), a dress (lovely but I didn’t need it), a lip stain (good purchase, but I could have coped without) and a notebook which was on sale and I’ll keep for when I need one.
But apart from these three items, I’ve let numerous other ones go. Wanting to jump into a purchase but holding back and finding, after the initial urge, that I didn’t really need them.
I’ve also changed the way I buy for others, not just throwing money at things because I need to buy them a present but asking what they want if I don’t know and learning that my worth is not connected to my skill of present buying.
And while I think I’m going to relax my rules and allow myself to buy in charity shops across the year, I’m going to keep going with my ‘stopping shopping’ lifestyle.
And here’s why:
I’ve been reading a book called ‘doughnut economics’ – I’d highly recommend it. It shows how current economic theory, built on continued growth as it’s defining measure, isn’t viable for ongoing life on Earth.
We need to find a sweet spot between people having enough to survive (access to water, healthcare, education, food, social support networks) and not pushing our planet above the threshold of what it can sustain (leading to climate change, ocean acidification, air pollution).
There is a balance, and it’s found through churning out less.
It’s found through valuing what can’t be bought. Finding happiness in connection, contentment in having just enough.
And that’s what I’ve discovered this year – I have enough already. A roof over my head, enough food to eat, clothes on my back, meaningful work, a family I love.
I actually have more than enough – means to take a holiday, a salary that pays enough for me to work a reduced week and still cover my mortgage, enough to save a bit away for Jenson.
I do wonder whether this experience of mine shows just how privileged I am. I have the ability to shop, I just choose not to. Whilst others don’t have that luxury…but I am where I am and I’m trying to do my part.
I’m coming from a place of privilege but what I’ve done isn’t nothing. I’ve managed something of substance through questioning how and why I consume things…
So what’s next?
I’m always one for moving onwards and upwards, but there’s maybe a lesson for me in the doughnut economics.
Finding a life which has a smaller environmental impact whilst not breaking myself through unrealistic expectations.
Yes, there’s a climate crisis which needs us all to act. But I don’t need to berate myself for not being perfectly carbon neutral.
But I can’t help but feel a ‘what next’ and I feel in my body a discomfort with the amount I fly and the environmental impact it has, which blows out of the water any environmental kindness I’m trying to make through veganism, my move to stop shopping and the eco choices I’m moving to (such as cloth nappies).
I’m also aware of how mass farming of crops is destroying our land through the use of harsh chemicals. So I’m finding myself wondering whether buying organically where possible might be something I’m called to.
But I’m going to pause for a moment and celebrate how I’ve not contributed (much) to the consumerist machine this year.
It’s a small step, but I’m doing my part, and that feels pretty good.
What small thing could you do, friend? We all need do our part, however small, if we’re to save the world.