Buy nothing January: results


I’d like to say that my challenge to buy nothing during the entire month of January went off without a hitch, but that would be a bit of a lie.

In truth: it was impossible to buy nothing. I did, however, succeed in buying less, cut my impulse spending down to next to nothing, and not make a single clothing purchase despite massive January sales – that’s got to count for something.

At the same time I know I cheated here and there. I went out for meals with friends, I purchased a couple items that could have waited until the end of then month, and I really didn’t spend much time reflecting or learning about consumerism. The challenge became overwhelmingly dull.

So I’m not really sure whether I should classify my month’s accomplishments as success or failure. A little of both? At least I’ve learned a lesson about monthly challenges – they need to be interesting! I can’t make myself do something that gets duller and duller as the weeks pass, especially during the darkest, coldest month of the year! I need to pick things that inspire me, that help me to look at things in a new way, or lead to measurable rewards. Like blogging every day for a month!

At any rate, I am looking forward to my February month-long challenge, which I’ll be starting tomorrow in order to get a full month in. I’ll be doing something artistic every day and documenting the results here on my blog. The challenge? I’m not particularly artistic, but it’s something that I’ve always wanted to get into.

Should be entertaining at any rate. And a great way to make some of my mementos into art and to try out a few DIY projects that I’ve been looking forward to!





Buy Nothing January is Boring

So I haven’t made any impulse buys all January. And you know what?

It’s been a pretty boring month.

Now what does that say about me? I need to shop to be entertained? Hardly – I think the January blahs were destined to happen whether I shopped or not… but it is cold out there and I want to buy crochet supplies, snuggle up on the couch, and start a bunch of projects!

January is a boring month.

I have no desire to research the impacts of consumerism and materialism (as I had planned to this month) – I just want to hibernate through the rest of January.


I envy my cat, but I wouldn't sleep quite so close to the heater

No wonder so many people fail at New Years Resolutions in January – it’s just a dull month full of cold, dark days and no holidays to look forward to. It’s like coming down from a sugar high.

At least there’s February.



Repurposing my Mementos into Art

I’m 2 weeks into Buy Nothing January and things seem to be going great.

This week I’m continuing to de-clutter my life by getting going through a lifetime of mementos and figuring out ways to repurpose them into art. I’m a bit of a traveller, so most of my mementos are in the form of museum pamphlets, sea shells, photographs, and MAPS.  I am definitely a map hoarder/enthusiast.

Next month I will be doing a 30 day challenge that focuses around doing art every day. My mementos will help fuel this outbreak of artistic endeavors. I can’t wait to transform them into beautiful things to remind me of my travels and also reduce my keepsake boxes down to something that’s a little less of a fire-hazard.

Here are some artistic map repurposing ideas that I found on pinterest. Check out my “craft ideas” board to see all of my favourites.

Map butterflies?! YES PLEASE!
Using a map as a photo map might be a great way to display photos from my travels.
Using a map as a photo map might be a great way to display photos from my travels.
These carefully cut silhouettes would make beautiful wall hangings.

I can’t wait to get my memento repurposing started!


Have You Watched The Story of Stuff Project?

When I first came up with my Buy Nothing January challenge I did a little research.

I wanted to better understand consumerism and the elusive concept of materialism. I found that materialism has become a cultural norm – we’re so used to buying new items and feeding the economy that it’s become a part of our culture. From a young age we’re taught to want more, to buy more, and to need more than any other generation ever has before. It’s counterintuitive. And it’s very frustrating.

We live on a planet with an finite number of resources. Our mass-production efforts release harmful toxins into our air and water – the effects of which are mostly still unknown to policy-makers and scientists alike. And for what? New things that are just going to break down and need replacement? What about the cost to our environment and human health?

One resource that I found very enlightening on my road to better understanding materialism and the culture of consumerism was The Story of Stuff Project. This series of animate lectures, the brain-child of Annie Leonard, explains the problems of the consumer cycle in a way that’s accessible to people of all age and educational backgrounds. Check out the original “Story of Stuff” video to learn more about the cycle of consumerism that we’re trapped in. It’s only 20 minutes and will leave you with lots to think about.


Do you have any resources about consumerism that you would like to share?  I’m interested in learning more!



Take Everything Out of Your Closet And Start Anew

Today I am facing my first Buy Nothing January obstacle: cleaning out my closet.


Before: this is the tidiest closet that I've ever seen


After: Still pretty orderly :)

One of my goals this month is to learn to buy less. Strangely enough, working in retail has taught me a lot about the quality of clothing. I can tell from the fabric quality whether it will be durable, and it’s relative chances of surviving in my wardrobe for more than a couple seasons. I have bought a lot of clothing since I started working retail. Most of it has been carefully selected for style, durability, and (of course) how much I love it. Because if I don’t love it when I am leaving the store, I certainly won’t learn to love it.

With the exception of a few summer, formal, and housework items, I like to work my way through my entire wardrobe. Consistently. I don’t hold onto extras just in case, because I know that if I won’t wear it today, there’s not a chance of me getting into it a month from now. So clothing that no longer fits, or that I no longer wear, gets donated.

My cleaning strategy is simple…

1. Take everything out and lay it in a pile.
2. Sort through the pile creating a stack of each garment type. Example: shirts, pants, blazers, dresses, etc.. This permits you to better visualize the contents of your closet by garment type.
3. Go through each stack and get rid of clothes that no longer work, either through donation (if in good condition) or as rags (if in disrepair). I use the following to quantify whether an item deserves to re-enter my wardrobe or not:

  • Does it fit? If no, the item is sent to be donated. This could vary for someone who fluctuates a bit more in weight – but I’m not planning to change any time soon.
  • Is it out of season? If yes, I’ll put these items into storage, with the intention of going through them before they re-enter the closet.
  • Do I wear it? If not, and I’ll either give it a grace period (say the end of the month) to see if I can work it back in. If not, it’s donation time.
  • Can I wear it to work in? Some clothes that are a little more worn than I would like, or a little too large, etc.. are great work clothes. But here lies a bit of a hoarding dilemma – it would be easy to say that all of my old clothes could be kept for working in. I try to be realistic – I have 3-4 pairs of older pants that are perfect for field biology, a few long sleeved shirts, and a couple bulky sweaters that I would never wear on a daily basis. That’s all that I need

4. De-lint, steam, replace missing buttons as needed and put my new wardrobe back together.

As I went through my wardrobe I took stock of what I had and what would be suitable additions to top-up my “adult wardrobe”. I will be using this list in the coming months not as a shopping list, but as a list of permitted items, should I come across them. This technique has actually helped me make better choices since I started working retail.

Anyway, I am super happy to have a neat closet to start the new year off with.

Wishing you the best in the new year!


Monthly Challenge: Buy Nothing January


Happy New Year readers!

I had a great Sunday off after a long month of blogging continuously. Today I am ready to start talking about my January goal of buying nothing. All month!

The “buy nothing month” has actually been a pretty popular topic among bloggers, particularly environmentalists, who are either trying to save money or become more aware of the purchases that they make. I am looking to do both – as a recent graduate with a very limited income it’s important for me to live within my means and keeping away from debt. I am also very interested in taking a good look at what I do buy in order to avoid collecting any unnecessary items.

This next month will be all about looking at what I do have, what I buy a lot of (clothes), where my money goes, and how I can change my shopping habits for the better. All the while I will not be buying anything new, apart from the necessities of food and toiletries, in order to save money and better appreciate my belongings.

I started my New Year off by cleaning out my entire room. I’m planning to blog about how I sorted though my wardrobe tomorrow. I still need to deal with my accumulated school notes and various keepsakes over the next month… I’m thinking about art projects that will preserve bits and pieces in a way that keeps them presentable and out of the way. Pinterest here I come!

I think that the hardest part about this month-long challenge will be keeping away from buying clothes. I work in a retail store and find myself bombarded with beautiful clothes on a day-to-day basis. I am hoping to tackle my desire to fill my already crowded closet with more things by appreciating the things I already have. And maybe making a list of the last few pieces that I need to “complete” my adult wardrobe. We’ll see ;)

I wish you the best of luck with your January goals!