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!

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

My 90 day pledge to not buy any more crap (consumer detox – day 1)

Since getting back from the Hayhouse South Pacific Cruise (which was AMAZING!) I’ve spent most of my time doing two things.

1. Bragging incessantly about my new amazing tan
2. Thinking about how much CRAP I’ve accumulated!

I didn’t actually buy that much stuff on the cruise – mostly books – but the week before the cruise I was working at a big folk festival and somehow managed to purchase not one, not two, but SIX new dresses and within a couple of days realised that I didn’t even like two of them. Doh! And in the month before that I had bought so many new summer clothes and other random crap despite the fact that I was unemployed and didn’t know how long I would have to make my savings last for. It was idiotic. Luckily I’ve already been able to find a few little profitable things which I think will allow me to not even bother with a ‘real’ job anyway (yay!) but still, I don’t know what came over me.

And seriously, my bedroom looks like the aftermath of Hiroshima at the moment because of this sudden new influx (did you see the pic for this post?). Gah!!

Anyway, it’s time for a detox. A consumer detox. Some of you would know that twice in the past year I went a month without buying anything. Well, almost. The first time I was mostly successful but on the eve of the final day of the challenge I cracked and bought a few things. And the second time I was totally successful but it wasn’t something worth patting my back about too much because I was in the middle of getting ready to move and so getting rid of crap came easy to me at that time.

Right now resisting the urge to buy stuff is more of a challenge because I’ve recently moved to a new state. It would be so easy to begin that natural accumulation of things – to allow that proverbial moss to start to grow on the rock that has stopped rolling (aka me). Ahh, but as I’ve talked about a million times, an excess of stuff does more harm than good. It clutters up your home and (for me at least) your headspace. It also costs you financially (more than you realise) and worst of all, it is so damaging to the planet. Dave Bruno, who started the infamous 100 Thing Challenge movement calls this phenomenon “American-style consumerism”. It’s yucky and despite the fact that I am a part of it, I hate it.

So .. I’m going to try to walk my talk for a while. I’m going on a 3 month consumer detox, ending April 11th 2013. What does that mean? Well, it’s pretty simple. Following the same rules I placed on myself during my former one month challenges, I won’t be buying anything for myself for the duration of the challenge. I can still buy presents for other people if I want although these challenges have inspired me to start buying people gift cards for experiences rather than adding to their personal crap-loads. The only other things I can buy are the essentials like food, petrol, shampoo, deodorant, etc.

Right now the only thing I really want is some deep ‘celestial’ blue wool to knit a pouch for my new Angel Tarot cards that I bought last week on the cruise. I don’t really want to wait until April to buy it so my friend is going to see if she might be able to get me some free wool for me from her work .. that might be cheating, slightly, but oh well 🙂 Don’t worry – I won’t make a habit of jumping through loop holes. I might also be opening a market stall here in Brisbane soon to do henna body art so if that happens I’ll have to be creative about how to set up and decorate my stall. But I’ll worry about that when/if the time comes.

Wish me luck, peeps and if anyone wants to join me, please do! And let me know!

My month of not buying crap – end of month review

Well I have completed my month without buying crap!! It was mostly successful. I did channel my shopping energy into doing all of my Christmas shopping but that doesn’t count against my challenge because the deal was to not buy anything for myself. The challenge also excluded food, misc. consumables like shampoo and cleaning products, and the purchase of experiences. Confession time, though. The three items I was planning to buy at the end of the challenge I actually bought on the last day of the month (yesterday). Doh!! I threw my back out last week and haven’t been able to drive because of the Codeine pain pills I’m been on. My friend offered to take me out yesterday, though, and we ended up going over to Target. I guess that means I failed but oh well, I’m still really proud of what I achieved. I’m planning to do another month without buying crap in August so I’ll have a chance to redeem myself.

I also saw on the news that there is an official “buy nothing new month” movement happening in Australia where you’re encouraged to buy nothing new for the entire month of October. I’ll most definitely be participating so for 2012 I’ll be doing three buy nothing new challenges. The movement has been getting a lot of slack in the media because of the way it essentially encourages people to boycott retailers for a month. I think this is ridiculous, though, because honestly, most Australians aren’t going to be taking part in the challenge and so the retailers are going to be just fine. It brings up a few important issues, though, that are worth talking about.

1. Everything we buy is made from natural resources and has to be disposed of somewhere

We need to remember that the crap we buy and the packaging all that crap comes in doesn’t just magically manifest in the universe and then magically disappear after we’re finished with it. It all comes from natural resources in one way or another. And it all has to go somewhere in the end. It’s worth reminding ourselves that when we put something in the trash can, it doesn’t just disappear into the ether. Scientists estimate that plastic takes between 500 and 1000 years to break down. Plastic has only been around for about 50 years which means that every piece of plastic that has ever been thrown away is still just sitting there, in the land fill or the ocean or wherever the hell it landed. Every diaper, every plastic McDonalds straw, every piece of plastic packaging that ever came into your life or your parents life is still around. It’s pretty disgusting when you actually sit back and think about it.

2. We need to learn that we can’t spend our way out of our problems

How much debt is the United States in? Well, as of 5AM PST on the July 1, 2012, it’s $56,925,015,397,300. We’re broke. In fact we’re so far beyond broke that if we were just broke we’d be really freaking excited. And yet the government still has the nerve to try to tell us what we should be doing with our money?! Like they know what they’re talking about or something?! It’s just stupid. And a lot of us have bought into the bullshit idea that spending your way into debt is a matter of patriotism. DUMB! In life if you want to experience financial peace, you have to stop buying stupid crap you don’t need. Congress would do well to work this out and put an end to their debt crisis. Honestly people, debt never helps anything.

In terms of my challenge, though, and everyone else involved the bigger campaign, we’re just trying to do our part to help the planet a little. I don’t beleive that by setting out on a challenge like this that we’re harming the economy because nothing about this challenge says you can’t spend money on going out to eat, going to movies, or doing other things that cost money but that don’t encourage excessive consumerism. And even if this challenge was taken on by so many people that the retailers did feel it, the future of our forests and oceans is always going to be more important to me than they are. I’m sorry but I just can’t apologise for that.

Photo credit

My month without buying crap – 11 days in

Well I’m 11 days into my experiment of not buying myself anything this month. So far it is going well. There are only two items that I know for sure I would have purchased had I not been on this challenge.

1. A desk fountain ($50)
2. A new toiletries bag ($20)

So I suppose in 11 days I’ve saved myself $70. Not bad! As I mentioned in my last post, though, this isn’t about saving money as much as non-consumerism.

I’ve found myself really disgusted lately by our consumerist society and as much as possible, I don’t want to be a part of it anymore. People always use the excuse “you can’t take it with you” for why they spend money excessively. But the way I see it, if you can’t take it with you, why buy it in the first place?

Rather than buying more crap I don’t need, I’d rather spend my money on good food, meaningful experiences, movies with friends, donations to causes I care about, and most importantly – to save for emergencies, eliminate debt, and eventually pay for a home.

This isn’t to say that there is anything wrong with buying things. I am already thinking about what I might buy in July or August. I wouldn’t mind a new pair of jeans and a new winter coat. When I do buy these things, though, I will shop purposefully for them and buy quality items that will last a long time – not crap made by underpaid factory workers in some sweat job overseas. And I also won’t get sucked into the impulse purchase trap while I’m out looking for them.

I think our modern society has become incredibly selfish when it comes to money. In so many parts of the world a family is considered rich if they have a place to live, heat, and a reliable source of food. They don’t need two cars, a gigantic flat screen TV, boxy modern furniture, the iPhone4, a fridge full of soda, or a magic bullet. And they certainly don’t feel “entitled” to any of these things.

Here is a passage from the Tao Te Ching that has been a source of inspiration to me for this challenge:

Imagine a small country with few people.
They have weapons but do not employ them;
They enjoy the labor of their hands
and do not waste time inventing laborsaving machines.
They are content with healthy food,
Pleased with useful clothing,
Satisfied in snug homes,
And protective of their way of life.

Wish me luck for the next 19 days! If all goes well I’m thinking of doing it again!

Photo credit