3 months without buying stuff – how I did (consumerism detox, day 90!)

Well my three-month consumerism detox is over. I thought this would feel like a bigger moment. When I decided to do the challenge in January after starring at the huge crapload of stuff I had managed to accumulate after just a week at Woodford and ten days on a cruise, the idea of not buying anything else until April seemed impossible. Surprisingly, though, it really hasn’t been much of a drama. That’s not to say it hasn’t been challenging at times. It certainly has. There were times when I would find myself staring at an item that I wanted and would have a little debate with myself over whether or not I should buy it. Most of the times my rational side won out but there were a couple of times when my free spirit took over and I decided to bend the rules to suit me. For example, one day I managed to talk myself into calling perfume a ‘toiletry’ and bought some .. but I suppose one little bottle of perfume isn’t the end of the world .. although that may be the voice of my free spirit again 😉 I also had to buy some stuff for work which felt like cheating even though it was unavoidable. And a couple of days ago I had to buy a new phone after I dropped my old one in a river.

As I talked about in my last post, my life has now moved in a new direction where there is little need for excess stuff and so I expect to continue on with this new clutter-free, streamlined, cost-effective lifestyle. I’m working as a fly-in-fly-out fauna spotter these days which means that I am away from home most of the time. We work for month-long stints and are flown home for one week in between each stint. When we are away, we each have a little room to call home in which is akin to a mining camp. There are almost no women here and no place fancy to go so there is no need to dress up or worry about keeping up appearances. Slapping on some lip balm and running a comb through your hair in the evenings is enough to get most of the boys excited so there’s not really any need to go to any more effort than that. Little pleasures like lighting a candle or putting on some fresh nail polish seem very decadent. It’s amazing how your perspective changes when you get away from the world of strip malls and so forth.

I guess I should start thinking about what I want to buy now that I am able. I’m having trouble coming up with much, though. There really aren’t any clothes that I need or want. I seem to have everything I need. Most of the time I’m working and in my uniform so it’s only in the evenings that I can put normal stuff on and as I mentioned, there’s no need for anything impressive. And at my house in Brisbane I have more stuff so when I come home I can switch out for new things .. it’s like shopping in my own wardrobe.

I do want to buy a new laptop. The one I’ve have is so bulky which is a pain in the ass when you’re travelling a lot. I’d like to get a smaller one and a little pouch to put it in. I’d also like to buy some candles. I love to light candles in the evenings and really need/want to stock up. Instead of going to the cheapo stores, though, like I’d usually do to buy ten or twenty cheap ones, this time I think I’ll find a really beautiful soy candle and just burn that for a while. Soy candles burn slowly and evenly and smell so much better than paraffin candles ever seem to.

So what has been the big lesson for me in this challenge? I think probably it’s that it’s more enjoyable to have a few good items than a lot of cheap crap. It seems so obvious but when you live in a world where you are constantly bombarded with cheap stuff, it can be hard to resist it.

perspectives on minimalism from remote locations in Australia (90 day consumerism detox – day 41!)

Hello everyone!!

I haven’t had a chance to keep up with this blog for a while – way too much going on! I’m doing about 80 hours a week of fauna spotting at the moment in a remote site in Central Queensland. It’s been pretty epic and there hasn’t been much time for anything else. I wanted to update you all, though, on my progress with the 90 day consumerism detox. Today is day 41 so just about half way there!

I honestly can’t believe I’m only halfway there, seems like ten years since I’ve bought anything! With my new job, it’s actually proving very easy not to buy crap because I get sent out for 4 weeks at a time to remote locations where there really aren’t any opportunities to buy stuff, anyway. The only ‘stuff’ anyone seems to buy around here is beer and cigarettes. At the end of each 4 week stint they send us home for a week but a lot of people out here (at least the ones who aren’t married) don’t even have a ‘home’ to go to. They just stay with friends or zip of to Thailand or Fiji for the week. Some of them have stuff in storage but a lot of them don’t seem to own much of anything. It’s pretty amazing and a great practical lesson on minimalism.

I’ve spoke before about the strange phenomenon that occurs when you take a break from buying crap. It seems that the less you buy, the less you want for things and that’s definately what’s been happening for me lately. For example, yesterday I went to a mall. It was crazy. Save for a few field guides and odds and ends I needed for work, I haven’t bought anything for myself in six weeks and up until yesterday, I hadn’t even seen a shop in weeks, let alone an actual mall. We were only there because there were two of us that desparately needed a new phone plan. Telstra seems to be the only phone network out here that serves the area we’re at and yesterday me and another girl got seriously lost for like three hours and were totally incommunicado from the rest of the world because neither of us had Telstra. Anyway, so me and this other girl were waiting in line at the Telstra store yesterday trying to solve our communication issue and realised that we actually had access to stuff! We found ourselves just standing there, wracking our brains about what we might want to buy but neither of us could actually come up with anything. Well, Lauren did buy some granola but that was it.

Usually, after a month of isolation you’d think you’d be desperate for stuff but we weren’t. It’s amazing what a break from consumerism does for you. It really puts life into perspective.

Oh crapola, I failed my 90 day consumerism detox .. but .. it’s cause I got a cool job!

Oh dear. Can you believe it? I FAILED!! I already failed my detox and it hasn’t even been a month!! Geez.

For those of you who have been following my blog for a while, you know that at the start of the year I vowed to go on a 90 day ‘consumerism detox’ where I would not buy anything new for myself (save toiletries, food, and the other basics) for 90 days. I have done this for two month-long periods in the past and have always found it a worthwhile exercise – bordering on spiritual, actually. There’s something very liberating about temporarily stepping away from our society’s emphasis on more and realising that you already have all that you need.

Anyway, as romantic of a notion as this was, I unfortunately already failed! Luckily, though, the only reason I failed is that I just got a fantastic new job and had to buy a few things before I could start – some pants, some boots, a couple new field guides, and a few other job-oriented, survival-type things. I suppose you could argue that this stuff fits into the ‘basics’ category of things that I can buy since I didn’t really have a choice. The job I accepted was as a wildlife rescuer where I’ll get flown all over Australia to rescue animals from development sites. It’s been amazing so far. Stay tuned to my Facebook page for pictures of my daily wildlife adventures.

As I was buying the field guides, I was really really tempted to buy Matt Rolof’s book, ‘Against Tall Odds’, (I heart Matt Rolof so much!!) but by a sheer miracle, I was able to resist. So I suppose that’s progess. In the past I would have justified buying it by telling myself that I was already failing the challenge so I might as well go all the way .. kind of like when I have fallen prey to the sweet allure of a lunchtime cheeseburger and then decided to have a steak for dinner to just make the whole day a write-off.

Oh dear, but not to worry – after picking up the few things I needed for work I managed to crawl back on the wagon. I’m back on the detox and am looking forward to forging ahead with my simplified, clutter-free life! Wish me luck! The good thing is that I’ll be out bush almost all of the time with this new job so there won’t be much opportunity for consumerism, anyway!

Is it possible to be a vegetarian and still eat the occasional cheeseburger?

I love cheeseburgers. Like. I LOVE cheeseburgers. I could easily give up chicken, pork, fish, shellfish, and virtually all other meat forms so long as once a month or so I could burry my face into the delicious, juicy, mouth-waterwatering goddess blessing that is a good cheeseburger.

But I feel guilty.

On and off from the age of 17 I have attempted to kick meat out of my life. I would do really well with it for a while but then have some kind of minor life crisis – a breakup, a job loss, backing into a guard rail, etc. – and then I’d fall off the wagon. In these times of high anxiety nothing could calm me like a Big Mac or a Dicks Double Delux could (those of you who are from Seattle know what I’m talking about).

But I really do want to be a vegetarian. Honestly, I want to be a vegan. I respect the lifestyle choice so much and I am aware that if everyone on Earth was a vegan, we would be able to easily feed all the world’s people. And that’s amazing! I am also aware of the effect of livestock on carbon emissions and of what goes on in factory farms – and of what goes on even to animals lucky enough to live on organic, free range farms when they are trucked to the slaughterhouse.

I feel like the most ginormous hypocrite in the world for the fact that I still occasionally eat meat. It’s no longer a regular thing but it still does happen. The other day, for example, I ate a venison pie. It was on a four-wheel driving course and I was the only woman there. The boys were all eating pies and so I ate a pie .. and it was delicious .. but I hate to think of what was involved in getting it to the table.

Some of my other weaknesses are oysters, sardines, and buffalo (I guess I just love weird stuff).

About two years ago I started to (yet again) begin transitioning meat out of my life. I stopped eating it at home but still allowed myself to eat it, if I wanted it, when I went out. For a long time I was happy with that. I was aware that it wasn’t ideal but at least I had lessened my consumption .. and that was (and continues to be) what I recommend for other people. I don’t tell people that they have to become perfect non-chemical, non-GMO, Vegans – it’s just great to substitute meatless, more humane, and more natural choices whenever possible.

And yet I expect more than that of myself. I don’t know if I just have higher expectations for myself than I do for the rest of the world or what, but I am finding myself with a lot of guilt for ever eating meat at all – and yet I really struggle with giving it up. Gahhh!!

What are everyone’s thoughts??

Photo credit – with thanks.

De-frumping my wardrobe (90 day consumer detox – day 10!)

“as if a sunset is more beautiful when I’m watching it while wearing the ‘right’ brand of clothing” – Dave Bruno in ‘The 100 Thing Challenge’

Today is day 10 of my 90 day consumer detox! Two of my friends have decided to do the detox with me, yay! I’ll get them to chime in from time to time on how they are going with it.

I’ve had a few close calls already in attempting this fast of ‘American-style’ consumerism – not because I was intentionally trying to fail the detox but because I forgot I was even on it! I nearly bought the Katie Perry movie, “Part Of Me”, the other day (embarrassing!!) and then a few days later I nearly bought a heart shaped cake pan to make a friend’s bday cake. Whoopsie! But luckily I remembered just in the knick of time.

So how am I going with it? Well, apart from forgetting I’m doing it – fine! The strangest phenomenon has again taken place which happened when I attempted the month-long versions of the detox in the past. Instead of willing for the day when I can again be a slave to the enticing red glow of Target, I am actually finding myself more interested in getting rid of stuff. My housemate and I spent a few hours the other day going through our closets and looking for stuff to donate. We decided to get rid of anything that makes us feel frumpy which as it turned out, was a TON of stuff! (see photo below). There’s something very liberating about looking at a closet that is entirely full of stuff that you love and which suits you. And best of all, we donated everything to a special thrift shop where all of the proceeds are donated to RSPCA-QLD.

I’m feeling lighter already!

Look how much stuff we donated to the RSPCA thrift shop!

Photo credit – with thanks