24 - 2008

Buy Nothing update

LegoIt’s nearly the end of April and I’m still hanging in there with my attempt at Buy Nothing month.

I missed the Sunday confession because I was out of town, but last week I bought … uh … plane tickets. But this is the previously planned graduation-celebration trip.

Other than that, I didn’t buy much. We visited the Mall of America, where I was tempted by Lego Harry Potter key chains, but we didn’t buy any out of respect to the challenge. On our whole weekend trip, all I bought was medicine and some water and coffee at the airport after we passed security.

And on Tuesday I ordered a gift for Mr. Cheap’s birthday: Handmade items for his summer hobby, that I could probably have made myself if I’d been able to find the time.

I also bought a few things for Little Cheap’s upcoming overnight field trip that I couldn’t find used on short notice.

That is a lesson from this experiment: It’s somewhat easy to buy things used if you have ample time to search them out. Having time also gives you the option of budgeting for an upcoming event. Something we lose in our society, either through spontaneity or through the idea that we are so busy that no one has time to plan for future events, is the ability to choose to buy used, make your own, make do, etc.

For instance, with my daughter’s field trip, her class takes the trip every year. I believe they even go to the same place, at the same time, which would have the same requirements. A bargain/used shopper could use the supply list early in the year — they could have handed it out as an FYI. Then I could have been looking all year to buy or make the things I had to purchase: rain pants, warm waterproof gloves, and wool socks.

Instead, we received the list a few weeks before the trip, which doesn’t allow for the thrift-store scouring, Freecycle posting, eBay-cruising work so necessary to the buy it used lifestyle — at least not combined with my overworked life at the moment. We lucked into some used hiking boots, but that was it.

I don’t blame the school; most people check the list and go buy what they need. By a similar token, I would not have purchased three bottles of water this weekend if I could bring my own on the plane. I suppose if I’d thought ahead better, maybe I could have brought an empty bottle to fill from a drinking fountain.

These are the rules (airport) and the way our world works (school & birthday gifts) and it’s challenging, indeed, to swim against the tide. I think the challenge is creating some awareness about unnecessary purchases, but mostly I’m just trying to shift my consciousness a little more.

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