Taking the leap into buying nothing

This is a blog about not buying shit. In fact, it is a blog about not buying shit for a year to be exact. The main subjects of this are myself–Geoffrey–and my lovely, bubbly, partner in crime–Julie. She is my new roomie as of one month ago (July 1st, 2013). Together we have decided to embark on this journey to decouple ourselves from this sea of stuff we are living in. We had the idea because Julie upon moving in with me, realized how much stuff she’s acquired over her life, and how little of it she actually needs. Me, I was sick of seeing my bank account drained every month despite the fact that I do okay for myself in terms of earning potential. Ultimately though, we consider ourselves to be globally aware, community oriented, latent environmentalists who would like to become part of the solution instead of the problem when it comes to this whole eco-consumer-carbon-footprint shit.I like to think of myself as environmentally aware and concerned about the environment. However, coming from a psychology background, I have learned that thinking about how one is, and how one actually behaves, can be two completely different things. For example, it’s easy to think of myself as environmentally conscious, yet it is an entirely different thing for me to live in a manner that is close to those beliefs. When our actions do not line up with our thoughts, cognitive dissonance occurs. Cognitive dissonance refers to a situation involving conflicting attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors resulting in feelings of discomfort, and this can lead to altering our beliefs or behaviors to reduce this discomfort and restore balance.

I have lofty ideas, but maybe not enough action behind them. I am ready to take the plunge and radically shift my behaviors towards a lifestyle that fits my belief system. I am tired of making excuses for myself. This is my ultimate reason for embarking on this experiment.

I expect this experiment will be the swift kick in the ass I have needed. I have gone through forced denial of consumer items when I grew up because we didn’t really have much at the time. However, I have never intentionally set out to stop purchasing things until now. I expect that it will be a shifting experience. I expect that the person I am at the start of the project will be different from the person at the end of it.

Some of the things I hope to achieve this next year are:
1) Creating a savings plan
2) Reflect on what my needs to survive in this world truly are by unpacking my relationship with stuff.
3) Find out if the denial of things is associated with less or more happiness.
4) Seeing if social capital is as powerful a tool in our daily lives as money.
5) Lower my impact on the environment and live a more sustainable lifestyle.
Our experiment is going to start out with us limiting our purchases to necessary items such as food. Any additional items for the house or consumer goods, are what I am trying to do without. I will not be purchasing a television for example, or new towels. Oh and definitely no new clothes. Later in the year I would like to expand this concept of not purchasing shit, to also not paying for services such as eating out and haircuts. Finally, I would like to end the year off with attempting to not purchase food and see if I can live a freegan lifestyle for a short period of time. I know, sounds pretty easy right?All joking aside, I know it’s going to be hard. Like really, really, really hard. Trust me when I say this, I like to buy shit. I like to buy shit as much as the next person. In fact, since we decided to do this, I have been having mini freakouts thinking about what I am going to do when I need (insert random item here). And believe me, I can think of a lot of things I think I need. That is why we are doing this blog. We want to invite all of you to take this journey with us. Or at least follow along on our journey. We want to hear from you every step of the way. Send us your ideas, send us resources, give us moral support, or feel free to call us out when we’re being delusional. I suspect that without using money, our greatest resource will be all of you–the community around us. Oh, and before I forget, today (Aug 3) is my 30th birthday. That’s why we’re kicking off our experiment today. So lets raise our glasses, and toast to this new adventure we’re about to embark on.




11 thoughts on “Taking the leap into buying nothing

  1. Yay, kudos to both of you! Can’t wait to hear more about your adventures in not buying shit. You inspire me. Cheers, and a very happy birthday to Geoff!!!

  2. Geoff
    Happy 30th birthday!
    I have few comments on the topic of buying nothing.
    I will share my personal experience
    Due to circumstances you know I had to reduce my spending drastically in the past 2 years. Which meant buying stuff for necessities not because I wanted it. I failed the first year when I bought art and furniture! Did I want it? Yes did I need it? No
    With that said it took me at least 6 months to a year to get in the habit of bringing lunch rather than going out. But this is where I would disagree with your concept. To me going out with you for example for lunch or supper is not only a social enjoyment but also sharing good food with you, and it’s easy no cooking no clean up no mess no stress. It’s also a reward of being good money wise and splurging once in a while.
    But I do understand staying at home and sharing food with friends is enjoyable and rewarding.
    I will be interested to see how the no clothes or other accessories work out. I agree we clutter our lives with things we don’t need does it mean you will get rid of and donate unnecessary items? How do you see your life with bare minimum? Does it mean you will live with one bed one couch one table and chair and few pots and pans?
    What about electricity and heat? Will you be living with candles and fireplace and propane tank?
    So I am intrigued by your project and can’t wait to read more about it.

  3. Hey Geoff! It was really nice to meet you at the museum today! So happy to know that you’re embracing a “buy nothing” lifestyle.

    *Resources – http://www.lifeedited.com and http://www.theminimalists.com
    *Events – Clothes swap (start one or join one!)
    *Borrowing – Library is a great place to start

    *Minimalist since October 2012 – after quitting my full-time job
    *Motto – Buy less and own less – donated 70% of my possessions in April 2013
    *Current goal – veganism

    Follow your dreams!


  4. Happy – Belated – Birthday, Geoff!

    I am very excited to see how this experiement progresses. I graduated with a BA in Communications, and during my time as a student studied media ecology and alongside, our culture of heavy commodity consumption. This topic really interests me and I praise both of you for changing your behaviours to match your beliefs.

    “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
    Mahatma Gandhi

    Best of luck! πŸ™‚

  5. Happy – Belated – Birthday, Goeff!

    I’m excited to see your accomplishments and the obstacles you will face.

    “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
    Mahatma Gandhi

    Best of luck!


  6. Hey there!

    I am fascinated by this experiment you are embarking upon! This is something that has been on my mind more and more…for me specifically, downsizing my ‘stuff’ because it’s basically cluttering up my life and my mind! So, I shall be looking to you for inspiration, congrats on taking this brave step into the unknown πŸ™‚ I found out about you both in the Metro paper that my Dad had on his kitchen table this morning…when I read it to him, he quickly jumped to his iPad to check out your first Vlog. My Dad has been messing about with hydroponics since I was a kid…..over twenty years ago, he had built his own little green house (in our living room, much to my Mom’s chagrin!!) and one year, he made the BIG mistake of giving my Mom her own little hydroponic set up, for her Christmas gift (didn’t go over too well, ha!)….I know he has a secret fantasy of moving back out to the country at retirement time and having a big proper greenhouse….so we will be especially interested to see how you solve the ‘buying food’ dilemma πŸ˜‰ I wish you all the luck in the world and will do whatever I can to help you as well….onwards!!

    p.s. My first ‘share’ with you….have you checked out Pooh Corner Little Free Library? I picked up two books for my hubby and I to read this week, completely FREE, it’s an awesome idea….check it out! https://www.facebook.com/LIttleFreeLibraryatBowToBluff

  7. “I am tired of making excuses for myself. This is my ultimate reason for embarking on this experiment.” -amen to that!

    I think this is something we should all take a look at in our own lives. As a supervisor, I’m tired of hearing my employees making excuses for things they did wrong, or small minor errors that they just can’t live up to. I really respect someone who can live up to any kind of mistake they make, admit that they were wrong, and make a change. Why can’t we do that with *stuff* right? “oh, I bought that tv series because I loved the show when I was in junior high or high school” And sometimes, that tv series never gets watched. “oh I bought that because I felt guilty about something” “Oh I bought that because it was going to be a gift but I forgot to wrap it” I can think of all kinds of excuses I make for purchasing items.

    My partner and I went travelling through Europe with only one backpack each. Had 3 sets of clothes, 2 sets of shoes, toiletries, laptop/notebook, and money to purchase food (not depending on having a kitchen). Somehow, it was super easy! When we came back, I decided I didn’t need all the things I owned, but upon looking at all these items I had collected over time, nostalgia set in and I couldn’t get rid of a lot of those things. (too bad!!)

    I would like to shadow your process in my life as well (although maybe not as extreme – I am still kind of lazy lol). It’s such a great idea and since the trip, it HAS been easier to say ‘no’ to impulse buying, so I think that’s a good start at least πŸ™‚

    Good luck, I will be following for sure !!

  8. Do you rent or own your home?
    just asking because I recently bough a house and find all my money goes to hoe items now, definitely can cut out items like paint and dΓ©cor, but the there are so many upkeep purchases that I need to do. also, do you have pets? I have two medium size dogs, and they eat a lot πŸ™‚
    My birthday is coming at the end of this month and I am super excited to try this, any tips you can give someone when they are first starting out?

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