Will you buy nothing new this month?

​"Too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like." - Will Rogers

From TV to the internet, streetscapes and shopping malls, it's estimated that we see as many as 5,000 advertisements per day. Most of these ads are trying to get us to dig into our wallets and buy into an aesthetic that convinces us that our lives can be immeasurably improved by a new wardrobe and interior décor makeover.

In an effort to create some breathing space in this minefield of modern-day consumerism, Tamara Dimattina launched Buy Nothing New Month a few years ago in Melbourne. Since then, this movement has been slowly going global with the push for people to try collective, conscientious consumption on for size – rather than yet another new shirt.

The challenge asks us to tie a knot in our purse strings for the month of October and restrict new purchases to essentials only (such as food, medications and hygiene products).

Read: [Interview] Joshua Fields Millburn of 'The Minimalists' on living a full life with less

While the popularity of vintage finds and events such as the Garage Sale Trail mean that most of us dabble to a greater or lesser degree in the secondhand market, many of us are still suckers for the impulse buy.

The half price dress that we wear once and sits at the back of our wardrobe for the next five years, that quirky weather gadget that works for about a day longer than its one-year warranty before heading straight to landfill, or the gourmet cheese board that justifies its presence in the cupboard once every couple of years; almost all of us are guilty of throwing more money than we should at things we don't really need or use.

"The Christmas presents once opened are Not So Much Fun as they were while we were in the process of examining, lifting, shaking, thinking about, and opening them. Three hundred sixty-five days later, we try again and find that the same thing has happened. Each time the goal is reached, it becomes Not So Much Fun, and we're off to reach the next one, then the next one, then the next."
- Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

For those that don't have much of a disposable income, or who are masters at the art of not buying anything unless really needed, the idea of not buying anything new for a month is hardly a novel concept.

However, for others who are more able or prone to compensate a bad day with a spot of retail therapy, it can be a fantastic exercise in learning about spending behaviour patterns, discovering cheap and cheerful alternatives and even getting in touch with our inner creative tinker-repair fairy.

"Wait long enough, and what was once mainstream will fall into obscurity. When that happens, it will become valuable again to those looking for authenticity or irony or cleverness. The value, then, is not intrinsic. The thing itself doesn't have as much value as the perception of how it was obtained or why it is possessed."
- David McRaney

This challenge isn't meant to be about 'going without' but is rather meant to serve as a wake-up call to meaningless consumption and tuning into alternatives like buying experiences instead of things, sharing, swapping and buying second hand.

So, are you up for the challenge?

If the idea of living life light on consumerism for one month sounds like something you're willing to try out, check out the Buy Nothing New Month website where you can pledge your commitment, get a bunch of tips and links to inspirational articles from folks who will inspire you to get off the consumer train (or at the very least get a downgrade to a cheaper carriage!)

"We have more stuff, but we have less time for the things that really make us happy, friends, family, leisure time. We're working harder than ever. Some analysts say we have less leisure time than any time since feudal society. And do you know what the two main activities are that we do with the scant leisure time we have? Watch TV and shop."
- Annie Leonard, author of 'The Story of Stuff'

Read these articles to get inspired:

Consider swapping clothes with friends before buying new: 6 steps to hosting a successful clothes swap

Fix your clothes with minor defects first: [DIY] Don't throw away your old clothes, repair them!

Learn why fast-fashion and consumption are such a problem: 5 crazy facts from new fashion documentary 'The True Cost'

Learn some more: [VIDEO] The REAL cost of cheap fashion

Here are some other useful links:

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Nathalie Laurence Guest Writer Suggest an article Send us an email