It seems crazy, right? No shopping for an entire year. That’s 12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days, 8,760 hours. Can you tell the thought gives me a little anxiety? Well, I have a friend who did just that. Her experiment was within reason for the modern woman – she didn’t live off the land or stop buying shampoo, but she did completely stop buying clothes and most material items for all of 2016.
Micha (who writes under the pen name Olivia de Winter) found herself in a situation that I bet is familiar to a lot of us – she’d moved to Seattle with four suitcases. A year later, she had completely filled a walk-in closet. Another year later, she’d filled an even bigger one. She looked around and wondered, where did all this shit come from? So, she did something about it.
With Earth Day right around the corner, I asked Micha to share her insights on how we can consume less.
Avoid shopping triggers. But even before you can avoid them, you have to know what they are! Micha said this took some trial and error, but she quickly learned that fashion magazines were a huge trigger for her (particularly InStyle and Vogue). She’d read an issue and instantly felt like she needed to buy something. (I can relate!)
Change your self-talk. Shopping and things are often viewed as a reward – for a promotion, losing weight, reaching a goal or even finishing the week (hi, Friday!). Micha instead focused on experiences over things. For example, she’d book a massage to close out a stressful week or have a special dinner with friends instead of shop.
Really take care of your things. I try to take pretty good care of my stuff. Micha takes it to a level I didn’t even know existed. Originally from Germany, she was raised in a culture that prioritizes fewer, better things. She doesn’t put anything in the dryer except cotton underwear. She might spend more on resoling shoes than the pair originally cost and swears by shoe trees. She also subscribes to old tricks that might seem crazy but really work – like putting newspaper in your boots when they’re wet. If you’d like to learn more, Micha recommends checking out the book How to Get Dressed by Alison Freer.
Learn what works for you. This shift in thinking should make life easier – not harder. So if you’re trying something and it’s not working, kick it to the curb. Micha shared that so many people who lead a more minimalist lifestyle swear by capsule wardrobes. She tried it and didn’t care for it. Instead, she focuses on having her tried and true staple pieces and a handful of extra special items.
Think creatively and build new habits. Despite having a love affair with books, Micha didn’t purchase any for her year of no shopping. Instead, she learned to love the library. Today, she still prefers to get her reads this way – calling it her ‘book lottery.’ She’s also signed up for her local Buy Nothing group, and occasionally snags items on there. Ask yourself if you really need to purchase something, and you can usually find a creative solution.
I often find myself a little overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff that I have and found Micha’s tips to be a breath of fresh air. While I’m not certain I can commit to an entire year of no shopping yet, I can certainly put down the current issue of Vogue and take a trip to the library. What about you?
If you have a tip for consuming less, share it in the comments below!