WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF NO-BUY YEARS AND MONTHS?
I think they can be so fun! A few years ago I experimented with what I coined ‘Moneyless March’, 31 days where I brought nothing but food, and absolutely LOVED it – not because of all the money I was saving (though that was great) but because all this time was suddenly opening up. I guess you don’t realise quite how many online transactions and trips to the shops you make until you stop! But cutting back hasn’t always made me happy. To be honest, abstaining from non-essential purchases for too long leaves me feeling a teeny tiny bit dissatisfied with life.
I’m super nervous about sharing this because to have this choice – to be able to buy less and still meet all my basic needs – is a ‘luxury’ far too many people simply can’t afford. Spending money on things that bring me joy is about thriving not surviving. And if I want to play a part in addressing inequality and improving our collective well-being, it’s helpful not to confuse the two. But that doesn’t mean thriving isn’t important.
For thirteen years I’ve walked a more sustainable path because I’ve found it fun. I’ve learned ethical living isn’t about forcing ourselves into making ‘ethical lifestyle choices’ through uncomfortable sacrifice or a drab kind of minimalism, but loving life – and enjoying lifestyle change as a natural result. And if I’m not careful, no-buy thinking has the potential to undermine that.
For me sustainability and minimalism aren’t about taking an all or nothing approach to spending, but focussing on the stuff (mainly experiences but also some items) that reeeeeeaaaaally brings me joy – things that cultivate my love for life and make me want to take care of it. Of course there are lots of things that do this that don’t cost any money. A walk in the woods, a chat with a friend or a swim in the sea are all free experiences that fuel my love for life. But if I deny the good that travel (done as sustainably as possible!), movies, and a trip to the spa does for me and my approach to life, I’m being dishonest.
I say this not to shoo shoo the idea of no-buy years and months (which I think are great) but, if you’re embarking on one, to encourage you to make it an experience that’s fun. If forsaking something leaves you feeling resentful or miserable, it’s going to be much harder to maintain your love for life!
So, with that long introduction in mind, please take the list you’re about to read with a pinch of salt. They’re things you probably CAN stop buying – but in no way does that mean you have to. I personally enjoy not spending my money on these things right now. But if that changes, if I start to miss one the them or identify a situation where it would be helpful, I’m not going to feel guilty about changing my mind. And if they bring value to your life, it’s not my intention to make you feel guilty either – use them with joy!They’re merely here to spark ideas 🙂
1. ALL-PURPOSE CLEANERS
We’ve found it’s usually sufficient to wipe down surfaces with water, or when we need a deeper clean to make our own using vinegar, water and tea tree oil – but I will admit to using bleach if a particularly hardy virus is doing the rounds!
2. PAPER TOWELS
Reusable cloths and tea towels really do work just as well.
3. LAUNDRY DETERGENT
I’m going to be honest: I think the science behind laundry eggs is pretty sketchy, but I’d heard so many positive reviews about them, I thought I’d give one a try – and I haven’t looked back. I keep meaning to test them against a load using nothing, because I guess it’s possible a water-only wash works too (anyone tried this?) but either way, laundry detergent no longer seems the essential I once thought it was.
4. BUBBLE BATH
Given a choice, there’s no doubt a short shower is more eco-friendly than a bath, but as we know I’m about focussing on changes that make us excited rather than resentful and miserable. And as sacrificing baths makes me resentful and miserable (I know because I’ve tried!) , I’ve made changes to their frequency and the amount of water I use instead. And yep, I’ve also given up bubble bath. Plain old water does the job just as well, and lavender essential oil is an amazing substitute if you want a relaxing scent.
5. SHOWER GEL / BODY SOAP
Ok, I get this is a controversial one but my husband reassures me I don’t smell, and if you do an online search you’ll discover I’m not alone. Some dermatologists even recommend it! If you like the scent of soap or shower gel and it leaves you feeling fresh, go for it, but otherwise try skipping it (and find a very honest friend )
6. DISPOSABLE SANITARY PADS / TAMPONS
I know this only applies to some of us, but if you have periods the range of reusable options is so great now (pads, tampons, cups, pants, swimwear…) you can easily do away with disposables at least some, if not all of the time. Oh, and if you’re worried about absorbency please be reassured cups hold about three times as much blood as a regular tampon, and whilst I haven’t seen any stats for reusable pads, my most absorbent ones are more effective (and comfortable) than any of the disposables I tried back in the day.
Again, I know this doesn’t apply to everyone, but if you wear foundation and moisturiser I totally suggest giving tinted moisturiser a go – it’s such a time and money saver. And if you get one with an SPF, you’re sorted for sunscreen too (though for really sunny days experts recommend a broad-spectrum SPF as well).
9. WINDOW CLEANER
I’m not even sure why this exists. All you need for streak-free windows is equal parts vinegar and warm water – and maybe a few drops of an essential oil for a slightly nicer smell. Don’t waste your money on anything else!
I can’t actually believe we ever used this given the number of food containers we own but there we go! Between tupperware boxes, reusable food wraps, stretchy silicone lids and just covering food with a plate, there’s so many more exciting options to clingfilm, I can’t ever see us going back.
So there we go, ten random items I genuinely get pleasure out of no longer buying, and maybe you could too 🙂 Feel free to share your favourite no-buys in the comments and let’s make this fun!