I had some questions posted on my blog from my friends about the details of the challenge. I’m going to attempt to answer them, although I’m not sure I’ve thought of everything, you know, like the batteries. (day 2)
The plan is to not buy anything new, other than groceries and toiletries. No new stuff for the house, no new clothes, no new electronics, no new toys, no new anything. The only places we would shop would be resale shops and thrift stores. We can buy used stuff, but only if needed. No shopping at retail stores. The kids and I decided Half Price Books would be okay, but only used books.
I do not want to be materialistic and I tend to justify buying stuff. I’m not in debt, and I have the money to buy things, but I clearly don’t need more stuff. I have seen a different world than the one where I live. I have ventured out of the affluent bubble I live in and I can’t ignore what I’ve seen and experienced. I’m uncomfortable with being comfortable. I don’t want to support major superstores and mega marts. I want to buy only what I need, when I need it and used. I’m going to do this for an entire year. I guess maybe I want to prove to myself that I really just don’t need so much stuff. Food, water and shelter. I also want to be able to have more to share. More financial resources and more time.
So what happens when my kids need new clothes or shoes? I plan to go shopping at the thrift store. This is not a big change for me, as I buy 90% of my clothing and the boys clothing at thrift stores. Most of my shoes have come from the thrift store, but finding shoes that are in good condition in the boys sizes isn’t going to be an easy task.
School supplies will be another challenge. I should be able to get some of them used or reuse some from last year. I clearly didn’t think through all of this! I did think through the important part, that part being the importance of this. This is more of the radical, cold-turkey approach instead of just making some simple changes. The teachers won’t be digging this explanation when it comes time to bring the brand new, pristine supplies to school.
Gifts won’t be a problem, as I can buy used books, make an art piece or donate money in someone’s name to their favorite cause.
I’m sure there are many other things I haven’t thought through. Every day will be a reality check.
What qualifies as retail?
I don’t travel much, but I do have one flight this summer. I drive to Mexico pretty often for short-term missions. I never really thought about the travel thing being a part of this. I don’t travel much so I don’t think much of cutting back on it. I always shop for the best deals on everything. I guess there’s no such thing as a used plane ticket! It wouldn’t get you very far if you found one. Airlines I suppose, don’t count as retail.
The fast food thing has been on my mind a lot lately. My kids and I went to Mooyah for my birthday last weekend. I was so completely irritated with the large amount of paper waste in bags, cups and wrappings that it takes to eat there. It’s not even like I had it to go. It’s ALL made ‘to go’, doesn’t matter where you sit. Again, ease and comfort and any cost. And don’t get me started on the ridiculous portion sizes! I think I’m going to add fast food places to my list of things not to do. Restaurants without all the paper waste I will still patronize.
As for groceries, we have to eat, and yes, food is retail. (Yes Amy, potato chips included… LOL) My challenge excludes groceries and toiletries. I do hope to make better choices with these purchases though, meaning containers that are better for the environment, more fresh produce and fair trade foods. Before I buy my quarterly coffee supply, I’m going to do some research to make sure Lavazza is a fair trade coffee.
So what now?
I have a feeling I will encounter many things each day that will challenge me to be more creative in how I approach my wants and needs. Please keep the questions coming! We can all learn to do this together.