Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Nothing New -- Courtney and I Vow to Make No New Purchases for One Month

While turning over the Dream Of Less in my head and discussing it with my like minded wife Courtney, we developed a little challenge for ourselves: purchase not one new item for an entire month.  At the end of the month, I hope to write the next installment of the dream: To Dream of Less Stuff.  Also, if the month goes better than expected, maybe we will extend the challenge for an even greater period of time.  For the first installment, however, we will begin on September 1, and attempt to buy nothing new until October 1.

Of course, a challenge like this would be meaningless without some clearly defined terms, some ground rules, and some expectation up front of a reasonable amount of failure.  So I describe for you now the plan:

  • First: food is not counted here, for obvious reasons.  What is counted, however, is any kitchen utensil, crockery, flatware, or other durable good associated with the preparation of food.
  • Second: semi-durable and disposable goods do count, including napkins, towels, clothing, shoes, kleenex, etc.  Also counted are things purchased for us in the process of a service we pay for, such as car maintenance.
  • Third: Cleaning products are to be avoided unless absolutely necessary.  We will try to use what we have sparingly, and find alternatives (vinegar and baking soda, e.g.) when we run out.
  • Fourth: items essential to health care (medicine, bandages) for both ourselves and our pets do not count at all.  I will not put myself, my wife, or any of our furry children in harms way for this or any other experiment.
  • Fifth: "new" shall be here defined as anything which is not previously owned, not re-purposed or recycled, not refurbished or re-anything-ed in any way.
  • 6th: when the need for some stuff arises, we shall follow this rubrick for satisfying the need:
  1. Try to repair the broken stuff (reuse/repair)
  2. See if we can make something else work for the same purpose (re-purpose)
  3. Try to borrow or barter for it
  4. Try to find it used or refurbished
  5. Reconsider if we can do without it
  6. Finally, break down and buy it new
However, if we get all the way to step 6, I am hereby bound to write a blog post about the item and the process of trying to achieve steps 1 through 5.

I think that about covers it.  I can tell you right now that at some point we will fail, and most likely because of my wife's car, which we are in the process of fixing up to sell.  But the failures are an anticipated part of the experiment, and we will not be deterred by a few set backs.

The purpose of this exercise is to actively monitor the amount of stuff we buy, and the amount of waste that we generate, and furthermore attempt to actively reduce those categories.  I am very optimistic that we will achieve some success in this endeavor, and I hope against hope that you will find this either a little inspiring or least somewhat entertaining.  Either way, I am really doing this for your benefit, so you better read!
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