Little O playing with his “new” horse on the floor tiles
Ali Thompson undertook the July 2013 Sustainababy Eco Challenge to not buy anything new for an entire month. This is the story of her journey…….
I love shopping. I have a physiological response to the thrill of finding something that will flatter my figure, or look adorable on my son, or be oh-so-useful in the kitchen… A quickening of the heart, a warm buzz spreading through my head; there’s even a spring in my step. Oh yes, I have a problem. Often, I will justify a purchase because it’s second hand, so I’m not adding to the landfill caused by fast-fashion, or supporting giant corporations that use sweat shops. But regardless of how and where you get it, there comes a time when you simply have too much stuff.
The Sustainababy Eco Challenge was just what I needed. When you reluctantly admit that shopping is a hobby, and buy something most days, stopping for a month isn’t just a challenge: it’s a monumental undertaking; a shift in perspective and a complete behavioural change.
In the past my method of belt-tightening was simply to avoid the shops, but now that you can buy anything at any time online, I had to get tough. I unsubscribed from emails promising me bargains of a lifetime and backed out of our co-op group. I’m not going to lie: more than once I filled the “cart”, then shut my eyes and closed the window!
We’ve borrowed and traded things that we have needed (like a humidifier) and scored a few free things that I probably would have bought in August (such as foam tiles for the play area). When organising the laundry, I utilised what storage was at hand. It’s mismatched and looks a little odd, but it’s functional.
It isn’t just the “new” things I have avoided buying. I’ve been strict with myself about keeping on top of the nappy washing, allowing myself only one day this month where I used disposable nappies. Eating out has been reduced, with only two take-away meals and one birthday celebration. I now do big cook-ups on the weekend so the produce doesn’t have a chance to breed a new colony of micro-organisms in our fridge like it used to.
It hasn’t been a perfect month, though. I replaced my old slippers, and for Little O: pre-walkers (new), a big stuffed horse and a toy piano (both second hand). I spent some time going through my wardrobe, rediscovering old loves and altering others to satisfy my desire for new clothes. I did buy some birthday presents for people, but tried to give second hand items and experiences, such as a massage.
When shopping is your habit, your stress reliever, your secret love, cutting back to the basics is as challenging as it gets. The Sustainababy Eco Challenge forced me to take stock, reprioritise and think outside the square. I’m looking forward to keeping it going. The plan is to tidy up the study and get crafting on some presents for friends and family, and continue to reinvent my old clothes.
The funny thing is, now I get a little thrill when I don’t buy something.
Congratulations Ali! You have won an ecoChici Heirloom Reusable Gift Wrap for your efforts! Want to eco challenge yourself each month for your chance to win awesome eco prizes? Join the Sustainababy Monthly Eco Challenge Facebook group here.
Thank you to ecoChici for sponsoring the July Sustainababy Eco Challenge. If you own an eco brand and would like to sponsor future Sustainababy Eco Challenges and introduce your product to our large following of eco parents, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.