At around 30%, our stuff makes up the largest portion a most European’s individual carbon footprints. Most people over-consume and our take make dispose economy is using precious resources and creating more waste than is sustainable.
Surrounding ourselves with things probably isn’t great great for our well-being either. A thirty year long UCLA study found that the average US home contained 300,000 items! To order, tidy, dust, maintain and sort through all that stuff takes time and energy. Researchers found that as people interacted with these countless items, their cortisol (stress hormone) levels spiked, especially women’s!
On a practical level, the ‘Buyerarchy of Need’, designed by Sarah Lazarovic’s is a helpful tool for kicking the shopping habit. Whenever you need something, start at the bottom of the pyramid and work your way up, only resorting to buying when the lower levels don’t fulfill that need. Another of our favourite tools for helping reduce the desire and need to buy are the ideas of Rachel Botsman who encourages us to consider utility over ownership. So, is it the drill that you want (that’s used of 16 minutes over a lifetime) or is it the hole? Is it the car that you want, or is it the ride?
On an emotional level, take a moment to consider why you buy so much when space and money may be limited and you know you don’t really need things. Do you buy to console yourself when sad or bored, or use new stuff as a reward or celebration? If you’re an emotional spender then it’s unlikely to satisfy, as the high of owning a thing rarely lasts more than a few hours.
Tips and some optional rules for your buy nothing new month:
- Use cash only, make toiletries and urgent replacement items your only exceptions, go the the Circular Directory to find dozens of local reuse and charity outlets.
- Tidy up and declutter so you know what you already have and can lay your hands on it.
- Gift ideas for the month include giving experiences, pledges to do nice things for the recipient, donations to charity, making a scrap book/video compilation, an auction house buy, paying for classes and repairing or renovating a much loved keepsake.
- Check out your local Freecycle group, hire shops and Repair Cafes.