In 2018, I’m giving up shopping.
That’s right. And now that I’ve shared it with you all, there’s no backing out. But truth be told, I’ve spent the better part of the last five months privately knowing that this was coming in one form or another.
In the post, you’ll find:
- Why I’m doing a shopping ban in 2018.
- The rules to my shopping ban.
- What you can expect to find on this blog this year as I complete the shopping ban.
- My other sustainable resolutions (and some ideas for your own).
- Some resources if you want to start a shopping ban yourself.
Why am I doing a shopping ban?
I have both external and internal motivations.
My external motivation is environmental sustainability. I’ve been mentioning it here and there over the last few weeks, but I’ve become increasingly mindful of and concerned with consumerism. Whereas I started this blog to, essentially, find ways to continue my shopping habits without a conscientious objection, my understanding of ‘ethical lifestyle’ has expanded somewhat in recent years. I now know that our impact on the earth is complicated and multifaceted. There is my primary concern – ensuring a living wage for the people making our clothes. But what use is a living wage for people if there is no environment for us to live in? So environmental sustainability – including the amount of waste produced both as a by-product of the fashion industry and when we dispose of clothes we no longer wear – that aspect matters too. I also know enough to know that there is much I don’t yet understand. And I want to keep learning.
My internal motivation is that I want to create more space for me to learn. Recently I’ve noticed that a desire to consume has crept up on me. And I’ve been struggling to keep it in check. More on this in a longer post at the end of this week. For now, it suffices to say that I’ve been consuming more clothes (even if they are mostly secondhand and otherwise ethically made). I’ve been consuming more social media, a lot of it fashion orientated. And while I’ve been consuming more, I’ve been creating less. I want to short circuit my desire to consume. I want to stop channeling my time and energy into what I want to have, and get content and creative with what I currently own. I hope this has the added effect of creating time and mental space for me to learn more about the complicated issue that is our impact on the planet and share my research with you all.
Also – I have enough things. And I want to demonstrate to me and to you all that we don’t need more stuff to actually be happy.
The rules to my shopping ban
The main no-nos of this ban are clothing and household items.
I’m not including in my shopping ban:
- Groceries – because I have to live.
- Basic toiletries – because I want to remain hygenic. This will probably include just shampoo bars, conditioners, soap, skincare and toothpaste. I have a menstrual cup, plenty of bamboo toothbrushes that I bought in bulk, and a non-disposable razor and enough blades to get me through the year!
- Basic cosmetics – probably just refills for my refillable foundation and mascara.
- Cleaning products – though I’m going to try to make my own where possible.
- Car bits – if anything goes wrong with my car, I’ll replace the parts.
- Entertainment and travel – my shopping ban is to help with consumption, not general enjoyment, so I have no restrictions on eating out, socialising, travel or other such activities. I also have no restrictions on getting takeaway coffee, provided I have my own cup. No cup, no coffee.
Now some of you might consider this cheating, but I want this resolution to actually be sustainable. So I’m allowing myself to replace things that become unusable throughout the year. I’ve been investing in high quality items for some time now, so I hope I actually won’t need to replace anything other than the above, but I want to set that allowance up front. I’m also going to use this rule conservatively, meaning that if something becomes unusable I will make genuine efforts to see if I can live without it – for example, if a pair of work shoes break and are not repairable, I will see if I can got without, as I have other shoes I can wear to work. However, if it’s my running sneakers that break, I would consider that a fair replacement under this rule, which is why…
Sporting equipment is exempt (within reason)
I already have a few items that I know I will need to replace for pentathlons. My swimming training suit is getting very bare on the behind, I need a pair of fins for training that my pediatrist approves of, and I will need a protective vest for horse-riding before my next competition. I could have technically rushed out to buy these items before I started the ban, but rather than do so arbitrarily, I made the decision to exempt sporting gear and add these items as the need arises. I will record and publish all the items I buy, so don’t worry – I will be accountable in this category! More on this below.
5 item quota
In addition to the above two categories, I’m allowing myself 5 ‘free purchases’ throughout the year. These can be anything I like, but once I’ve bought five items, I cannot buy anything else.
I already have some ideas about items that might fill these spaces:
- A pair of winter boots – for casual wear in winter, I wear boots pretty much exclusively. I’ve thrifted the last couple of pairs, but the last ones didn’t make it through last winter.
- A bridesmaid dress – for a wedding I am in this August.
- An high quality umbrella – mine broke last year.
- An office appropriate cropped sweater to wear with pencil skirts – I have one such sweater and for the past two winters have wished I had a second.
- A tote or laptop briefcase for work – my tan coloured Mamuye tote by ABLE is amazing but it would be great to have something smaller, more structured and in a dark colour for work, especially for work related travel.
- MATTER jumpsuit – I have been eyeing this off ever since I tried on Hannah’s last year in March. Obviously it hasn’t made it off my wishlist yet, but perhaps it will…
Technically the boots and umbrella could come under ‘replacements’, but as I said, I want to try to apply these rules conservatively.
What you can expect to find on this blog this year as I complete the shopping ban
While I complete this shopping ban throughout 2018, I’m going to be posting fairly regularly to stay accountable. I envisage that those posts will include:
- Monthly posts of what I bought that month
- A full wardrobe inventory of all the clothes and shoes I own.
- Some capsule wardrobe posts, as I attempt to make sense out of my existing clothes.
- General rambles on what I am finding hard, what I wish I could buy, etc.
My other 2018 resolutions
I also have some other general goals, which I hope will be facilitated by the shopping ban.
- Reintroduce more creativity into my life – more photography, writing, reading, creating! If you have any books, podcast or documentary suggestions, please let me know in the comments!
- Get out into nature more
- Learn how to create natural cleaning products and natural remedies for ailments
- When making household replacements, make them sustainable alternatives
- Learn how to compost?
- Continuing decreasing my meat consumption
- Hit some pentathlon goals. Can I finally swim a sub 3:00 in 200m freestyle?
Resources if you’re thinking of starting a shopping ban yourself
In thinking about starting a shopping ban, I found the following resources very inspiring and helpful:
- My Year of No Shopping, Ann Patchett, New York Times
- I Gave Up Shopping For a Year – and it Changed Everything, Kathryn McLamb, Pop Sugar
- The Rules for My Yearlong Shopping Ban – Cait Flanders