The ‘buy nothing’ shopping diet

Buy Nothing Shopping Challenge

I’ve been thinking a lot about my consumption lately, and more so, just how many new things I seem to have bought in the last six months alone. While I’m no minimalist by any means (and I doubt I ever will be!), I’m firmly of the thought that we should only own what we love, and that this should fit within our means; both financially, and from the perspective that we can only consume so much. So when I read an article last weekend about the buy nothing diet, it really struck a chord.

One of the key things that I’ve been doing for years, to try and meter my spending and keep my shopping habits on track, is to keep a spending journal. Every time I make a new purchase for my wardrobe, I jot it down in a notebook, and tally up the total number of new additions each month, as well as just how much I spent. There’s no denying that I’m an emotional shopper – since I lost my mum in 2015, I’ve found that February has been a pretty spendy month for me – and it’s come through more this year than ever before. Considering that we’d like to jump on the property ladder at some point, all these new additions haven’t been quite so conducive to ramping up those savings….

So when I stumbled across an article chronicling Micha Goebig’s year of buying absolutely zero luxuries, I felt a little inspired. I started to think about how I could incorporate ‘buy nothing’ into my life, whether it be in smaller increments, or on a smaller scale. And I also started to think a bit more about how I could get back to that core manifesto on which I’ve been basing my entire wardrobe on; quality over quantity.

SO… JUST WHAT IS THE BUY NOTHING DIET?

It probably goes without saying, but the crux of it is that you refrain from buying any luxuries. The necessities such as food, basic household supplies, and toiletries are still on the table, but any item that fits more within the ‘want’ category – think clothing, shoes, beauty products, candles, flowers and the link – are completely off limits. It’s a movement that comes from the idea that shopping takes up too much cultural, mental and social space in our lives, and given the the ‘diet’ is supposed to span over the course of the year, works to break those shopping habits which so easily become ingrained in our everyday lives. Living in a world where consumerism is conspicuous, rather than conscious, it’s a way to regain that power, and reject the call to consume.

So, I figure now’s a good time as any to point out the white elephant in the room; as someone with a blog and a YouTube channel which occasionally relies on new wardrobe additions for the creation of content, where does someone like me, go from here?

WHAT OTHER OPTIONS ARE THERE?

If buying nothing is a shade too strong for you, but you’re all for conscious consumption, consider trying out a capsule wardrobe or getting on board with the five piece French wardrobe challenge, which force you to challenge the way that you look at your closet, and how you approach shopping for new wardrobe additions.

Another option is the #30wears campaign. This encourages people to extend the lifespan of their clothing by asking yourself, ‘will I wear this at least 30 times?’ before heading to the check out. As someone who used to manually track how often they wore each addition to their closet, I’m completely all for this – there’s nothing like a new wardrobe staple that you truly get your money’s worth from.

My final suggestion, would be to purchase only pre-loved. Personally, I’m a huge fan of consignment stores (The Real Real has to be my favourite, alternatively I occasionally browse Vestiaire Collective and eBay) as they allow me to get the look I’m after at a lower price point, make higher quality pieces more accessible, and reduce my own impact.

As of right now, I’m on a little bit of a self-imposed shopping ban – there’s not set time frame, but after investing a huge amount into my winter wardrobe, I’m at a point where I don’t really need anything, and taking a peek into my closet is evidence enough that I have plenty to wear. That’s not to say that there won’t be the odd new addition here and there (or that I won’t look to take up the 5PFW Challenge again soon), but I’m hoping to start a little bit of a softer take on the buy nothing diet, even if it lasts for just one month.

image via pinterest

15 Comments

  1. Georgie July 8, 2017 / 8:47 pm

    Hi Jamie!! I have been stalking the RealReal for so long and think it’s time to bite the bullet! Do you tend to do a big order to justify the shipping fees to Australia? Thank you πŸ™‚

    • jamie-lee July 9, 2017 / 4:31 pm

      Hey Georgie! Very exciting – just a warning, it’s so easy to get hooked (I’m pretty sure at least half my spending this year has been on The Real Real!). I typically tend to order at least two items to justify the shipping cost. It’s $40 USD (a flat fee) so it doesn’t matter how much or how little you buy. They always have a 20% off promo so as long as you spend $200 USD on purchases, then you can essentially consider it to be free shipping. Just be careful if you buy something that is already discounted as you can’t return it (I’ve had success sending things back for store credit though). HTH! x

      • Georgie July 9, 2017 / 5:35 pm

        Amazing, thank you!! X

  2. HW July 9, 2017 / 12:01 am

    Hi Jamie!

    Your post really resonated with me. I’m considering a shopping ban or something resembling it. It is difficult when there are such good sales on quality pieces though. Sometimes it is difficult for me to say something is not an “investment piece” and really a want, just a more expensive want. The line gets a little blurry.

    I’ve also noticed a trend in my shopping habit. It seems I tend to focus on a certain aspect (like clothes or shoes or skincare/make-up) and go a little wild in that area. But when I do, I’m really not interested at all in the other categories. Somehow I need to channel that to all the categories. I’m thinking I should get back into reading (books from the library) or pick up a hobby – oh wait – I’m realizing that is also a spending category I’m guilty of spending a bit too much. Perhaps I’ll resume a past hobby!

    • jamie-lee July 9, 2017 / 4:28 pm

      Completely agree with you – sale time is always the hardest to try and reel things back in. I actually made a sale purchase or two and I ended up sending the one thing I thought I really wanted back. It was a pair of black aquazurra sandals which looking back, I’d only thought they were a good investment because I was keen to get something from Aquazurra, and these seemed like a modern update (these are them if you were wondering which: http://bit.ly/2sCRUQS)

      One thing I’ve been doing recently is dialling back how much YouTube I watch, and how many blogs I read – that’s ALWAYS my biggest temptation! It’s helped to find a few other things that I really like doing, and noticeably, it’s had a huge impact on how much I buy. Who’d have thought? Haha! x

  3. Morgan July 9, 2017 / 5:09 pm

    the 30 wears thing is a really smart idea. I flip-flop between wanting to only buy expensive “investment” pieces and then wanting instant gratification of cheap new Glassons stuff, but trying to dial that back. Once I realised I only wear black and grey and embraced that, it’s improved the success rate of the clothing I buy!

  4. Kelly July 9, 2017 / 6:24 pm

    Such an inspiring post! I feel like it’s just scary, the idea of not buying anything when I feel down… but at the same time I just don’t like thinking that way. Consumerism is such a nasty habit, but so hard to break with all the luxuries available at us. You share some really great tips and they have inspired me to start again with capsule wardrobing! But maybe this time with less restrictions and only my favorite items.

    Really love your blog and your YouTube channel btw!

    Love,
    K.

  5. Paula July 10, 2017 / 6:05 am

    Thanks for this post! I needed to read something like this. I also read a piece on not buying anything for a year and I think I need to try something less extreme but similar. My problem is I find it hard to know what will become a well worn piece or what will end up not really working in my wardrobe :'(

  6. Mica July 17, 2017 / 8:09 am

    Good luck with your no-buy challenge! After setting myself a few no-buy months I committed to spending nothing on fashion for 6 months, so I could hit the 30 wears goals on more of my current wardrobe. It was eye opening to see how few things I’d hit 30 wears on, even on things I thought I wore frequently!

    I’m now on month 7 of my no-buy, with no=buy-July. I’m not sure if I’ll start shopping again in August or not, but I do know I’m still enjoying and have a lot of wear to get from things in my wardrobe. I did a wardrobe inventory and calculated that if I wore everything 30 times I’d have 11 years of outfits, WOW!

    Hope you are having a wonderful weekend πŸ™‚

    Away From The Blue Blog

  7. Natalie July 17, 2017 / 7:39 pm

    Great post! A spending journal is such a good idea!

  8. Han July 27, 2017 / 5:18 am

    This struck a chord for me too. I’ve started to think that buying less would probably mean I would also have to stop reading fashion magazines and style blogs(!) and browsing web shops & catalogs for inspiration. They are anyway the main source of “wants” for me. Not necessary that I want some exact item, but more like feeding the need to have or try something new and feeling that my wardrobe/life lacks something. They’re also keeping me too focused on aesthetics of things and on things in general, I think. But how to stop doing something you enjoy?

    • jamie-lee July 28, 2017 / 8:21 pm

      I still find myself wanting things but instead I try to spin it (in my own head) in a way that has me thinking about whether it would add value, complement what I have already, and actually have a function. Sometimes there’s an emotional aspect – for example, I was recently able to buy a coat I’ve been looking for, for five years (an old one from KW) which I found second hand on eBay. But I can say that I still browse blogs, watch YouTube hauls, and I still have looked at new arrivals sections but I’ve found myself less compelled to actually go through the process of buying anything. I have a feeling it’s partly down to mindset!

  9. Fatima August 19, 2017 / 6:30 am

    Great post ! spending journal is such a great idea. I might have to try this the buy nothing shopping diet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *