With Black Friday marking the start of a frantic month of Christmas shopping, we asked our readers to tell us about how they defied consumerism.
Responses ranged from groundbreaking changes such as forgoing the purchase of new clothes to more subtle adjustments such as making sandwiches rather than buying a plastic-wrapped meal. Everyone agreed, however, that turning our backs on a culture that consistently demands more from consumers comes with financial and environmental benefits, not to mention a blissful sense of satisfaction that money just can’t. to buy.
Furnish your home for free
Earlier this year I bought an old house with my partner. It was unfurnished and required a lot of work, including a new kitchen and a new bathroom. For many, it would have been tempting to go to Ikea and furnish the house in a day. Not for us – we weren’t comfortable filling our new home with things that will be buried in a few years. Besides, why buy new when the world is saturated with unusual second-hand furniture?
We decided to challenge consumerism by getting it for free from Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace. Time and time again we have been surprised by people’s generosity: we received a virtually new TV cabinet from our neighbors for free and an unnecessary solid wood kitchen. We took it apart and adapted it for our kitchen; we were complete newbies but we managed to tackle all the construction and plastering work ourselves and it feels good to know we saved so many items that otherwise would have ended up in a dumpster.
I think everyone should ask themselves if they really need this novelty, or if it’s an opportunity to be creative and give a beautiful object a second chance. Furnishing our home this way has been a victory for our self-esteem, our wallets and the planet. Nicola Parisi, 36, Manchester
Treat your newborn baby with second-hand treats
We had a baby in June and managed not to buy anything new: almost all of her clothes are at least second-hand. We’re determined not to end up with a house full of horrible plastic that is used once and forgotten, so we got all of his toys, often for free, from Facebook Marketplace. We also recently bought her a subscription to Whirli Toys. The toys are great and once she’s done with them they get sent back and replaced with something different.
People can be so generous, especially with baby things, and it’s really nice to be able to do the same. We have already donated her 0-3 month clothes and look forward to giving her her 3-6 month wardrobe soon.
Many people find it difficult to pay for everything their young child needs. You can give almost anything – someone, somewhere will want it. Sam Hopes, 33, Lancaster
Give unwanted material a warm home
I’m an animator so I use high-end computers and graphics cards for my work. I had to upgrade everything during the lockdown and I really wasn’t comfortable throwing perfectly usable components into a dumpster. My mom is 83 and really only needs the icon that activates the internet to be able to access email and Zoom (which she has used a lot over the past two years). She’s happy with the free stuff, and by the time the components eventually make it to the recycling landfill, they’ll have been in service for up to 15 years.
Passing down my old computers has taught me a lot about how consumerism is actually enveloped in perception. People are sold like a ghost when it comes to technology. Companies do a great job of making people want the latest shiny metal case when, for the most part, the components inside are pretty generic and probably not even made by the same brand you’re thinking of buying. Andy, 48, London
Learn to sew
I was a big shopper when I was young, spending my student loan on the coolest sales, but when the pandemic hit I thought it would be a great time to learn to sew. I was lucky that my mom and grandma always sewed, so there was a spare machine lying around. But you can get a perfectly good one for £ 50 on eBay. Changing / altering fabric and clothes don’t cost much if you’re frugal. YouTube is your best friend: there is a video for every skill and every problem you need to solve.
Not only is this a great way to safely pass the time during times of lockdown, but it has made shopping at charity stores so much easier, knowing that I can modify the clothes to be suitable for my size and my style. I was so frustrated to see things that I liked the appearance of but didn’t quite work. Now I can do things like turn an old pair of pants into a tote bag or turn a large men’s shirt into two new ones in my size.
I even fix things for my roommates and make gifts for the people they love and appreciate. It just means more to people when they can see that you spent time making something specific to them rather than just buying it. Ellie Bromwich, 26, London
Follow the “90 day rule”
In 2014, I challenged myself. Could I go the whole year without buying anything new or used? It was tough, but after 13 weeks I broke my forever shopping addiction and really enjoyed paying attention to my purchases. Saving 38% of my salary was also a good bonus!
Of course, I couldn’t buy anything forever, but now before I hit “Add to Cart” on Amazon, I pause and add the item to my “90 Day Wish List”. It can be scary to wait, but nine times out of 10 I end up saying to myself, “No, I don’t really want that after all.”
In addition to helping me get rid of my debt, the rule made me happier. I spent my Saturdays strolling through the department stores; now i focus on my passions like walking my dog on the beach or arts and crafts. These experiences are so much more satisfying than looking around to see my apartment full of shiny possessions. I thrive, I don’t just survive. Rachel Smith, 40, Kent
Don’t buy new clothes
I was feeling desperate about climate change when I came across an article encouraging readers to join the No New Clothes movement. I was already doing the essentials: I recycle, I walk or use public transport, I am a vegetarian, I use reusable vintage pants. I felt that I lacked individual actions that I could take. Tackling my consumerism seemed like the next logical step to me, and in June I gave up fast fashion.
I now think about clothes much more intentionally. Do I really need another new dress to wear to a wedding? What’s the point of buying something to wear once when no one really cares about it anyway?
I wasn’t crazy about my spending before, but probably a few times a year I would drive into town to buy a new pair of jeans and end up coming home with £ 150-200 of stuff that I would only wear sometimes. . The pandemic has made it easier to get out of the habit.
Signing up for No New Clothes is so accessible because most people already have loads of great clothes. I know it made me appreciate what I have a lot more.
Having said that, I don’t think it’s necessarily about never buying anything new again. It just makes you stop and think, “Is this something I’m going to wear once a week or once in a while?” ” Chloé Maughan, 27, Bristol
Give Santa a break
A few years ago, I decided not to give or receive Christmas or birthday presents, just a card. We encourage family members to spend on themselves the money they would have spent on us. This way, no one gets unwanted gifts – it’s much nicer to save their money for proper treats.
Instead, I always donate to charity – usually to an organization operating in developing countries like Chase Africa or the Brooke Animal Hospital. As far as I’m concerned we’ve hit the ‘climax’ so it would be nice if people found other ways to give gifts – by making stuff, maybe, or just taking a family member with you. expanded for lunch.
Sometimes people get mad at me – they think I’m mean – but the way I see it is I’m trying to break the cycle of insane consumerism. The shops are full of tattoos and it’s sad to know that everything is going to end up in the landfill. We can and must do better.
I add that there are no more small children in the family – buying stuff for adults feels like a mess. Christmas gifts in the office are even worse – no one knows what to buy and you end up giving yourself things that no one wants. Viv Fouracre, 60 years old, Taunton
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