Meredith’s “No Buy Year”

Around this time in 2015 I shared that I was going to attempt a zero waste home. I was met with a lot of support and I’m so grateful for the online and real life community of friends and family helping me along. It might be glaringly obvious if you know me, but I like taking on challenges with strict parameters for specific time limits. I do well when I take things really (too?) seriously and aim for the highest mountain. Even if I fall flat on my face – and I will, I’m sure – I’ll still hopefully have a great view.

I’m not really sure what my goals are for this except to see what happens. The point is, I don’t know what the point is. I just know I want to try. I think I’m supposed to come up with a witty and crystal clear Pinterest-able blog nugget but I’m not in a position to do that right now. What I can do is share my rules as I see them so far, as well as what I’m going to do if I do find I need something.

Rule 1: Buy nothing.


Just kidding. Okay, let’s start again:

Here are my rules: Buy nothing.

Darn, did it again. I’m not going to buy stuff. The end. I’m not going to use bartering or borrowing as a crutch, etither. I’ve used ‘secondhand’ and ‘eco friendly’ as a reason to buy things I sort-of need for far too long. I need less wiggle room. Basically I’m only still going to buy food. We spend a lot of time and money on food, and I don’t see that changing any time soon. We shall see, though.  Okay, so, I’m also still going to buy needed things if they come up, especially if it’s for my children. I’m going to buy soap. I’m going to buy moisturizer, and lip balm. But only when all the moisturizers and lip balms in all the lands are 100% used up. For a self-proclaimed zero waste minimalist, I still have a ton of half-used skincare bits and bobs. Some of it has been gifted to me but some of it was purchased and sits half used. It all is going to be used up before I track down anything else.

If something comes up that I need, I’m going to be mindful and take as long as possible to make sure we absolutely need this thing before moving on to my Hierarchy of Acquiring Things:

  1. Borrow
  2. Buy secondhand
  3. Buy outright (but you know, aim for the best/eco-friendly/share-able version we can reasonably afford)

If and when I do buy something that’s not food, I’ll share it. Declare it at customs, which of course I mean social media. Technically my husband and children aren’t part of this “no buy year” but it will happen anyway. I typically buy the clothes and such for our girls so I’ll share those purchases, too.

We bought a couple things at the end of 2017 that will arrive in 2018. All necessary things that we bought mindfully. A new car seat for oldest because hers (a hand-me-down from a trusted family member) was expired. New glasses for me because while my prescription hadn’t changed, my astigmatism has and it’s been causing me issues. No need to justify my need to see clearly, right? Also a new (to us) pair of snow boots for my daughter because the hand-me-down ones we have in her size aren’t comfortable or easy for her to put on herself, so she was shoving her feet into too-small boots from last year. Alas, we bit the bullet and got a new pair of the style she prefers. The best boots are the ones you can get your toddler to wear, after all. So there you have it, my first tell-all disclosure about new stuff we brought into our house. 

The truth is that the hunt or shopping as sport is something I like. I’m not ashamed of it. I like browsing a thrift store or secondhand shop or craigslist or Kidizen or… the list goes on. I have a list in my head of the needs and wants and nice-to-haves. And in down time (not that I have a lot of that), I’d find myself thinking about or actively searching for those items.

But halfway through 2017 I sat in my bedroom feeling lost. I was itching for … something. My husband was in the middle of switching over to his summer capsule wardrobe and I was feeling sorry for myself that my clothes were chosen due to their breastfeeding access and whether they fit over my postpartum body. The last few years have brought me two pregnancies and two delightful babies. They’ve brought me challenges at home and big changes at work. They’ve brought changes to my living situation, changes to my relationship with my husband, changes to my relationship with…everything. Having a baby 4 days before January 20, 2017 was an emotional roller coaster, to put it lightly. My mama bear has really come out of hibernation this year.

Back to that moment last summer. I snapped out of it and realized that it didn’t matter if I had the “perfect” wardrobe. I didn’t want to fast forward time. What I was longing for was something I’ve been reading about for years – that minimalism and paring down will at some point be “done” and “perfect.” The truth is that I needed to just live with what I had instead of searching (albeit secondhand, but still, searching) for the ideal swap or ideal number of clothes or other items to perfectly fit my life.

The changes the past few years have been huge and touched nearly every inch of my life, but it’s also happened slowly enough that I’ve had time to witness. I’ve been a grateful witness. So that’s more or less where this is coming from. First, an experiment for experiment’s sake. Maybe I’ll irreversibly change how I see the world and myself as a consumer. Maybe (definitely) I’ll save money. And ultimately I’m hopeful to free up or shuffle around my mental and physical space in a way that brings me more peace. Or at least more insight.

I look forward to coming back here and on Instagram to share what I’m learning and experiencing.

Thanks for your support and for following along!


13 thoughts on “Meredith’s “No Buy Year”

  1. Oh this will be fun to follow along with! I’m applying the ”no buy” rule to clothes (my last purchase was a second-hand pair of jeans, a Christmas gift from my mother-in-law). And for all the rest, I’m trying to go the second-hand route whenever possible, and as eco-friendly as I can get. Plus, saying no to plastic limits my purchases drastically. (Though, when our toilet seat broke, I bought a new one, even though the cardboard box had a plastic handle. I’m not that crazy!) Have fun and keep us updated!

  2. This is wonderful. I’m hoping to do something very similar. I think for the most part I really have everything I need (and way more) to live the life I love to live.

  3. Hey just stumbled on your site whilst researching natural eco/human friendlycosmetics, also trying to aim for no buying (it’s tough), but I want a clutter free life 🙂 I have just binned a load of nasty makeup, that felt good 🙂 Will be following this with interest:-)

    1. Thanks for reading and the comment, Sam! Yes it’s so tough but I personally find “drastic” changes to sometimes be the best way to get to where I want to be! Good luck and definitely keep me posted 🙂

  4. Hmm, so not doing so well on the no buying – positively failing on the clothes front (not as much as previous years) but, have def improved on toiletries and makeup (as I am obsessed with chemicals). So now I am giving myself a rule if I buy something I have to donate two things to charity. 1 in 2 out , I’ll let you know how that goes!

    1. Yes that sounds like a good compromise! Really a “bit less” year might be just as effective as a “buy nothing” year… it just depends on your goals and circumstances etc.

  5. Wow!! I found you while looking for something completely different ( that’s the Internet lol) , but I must say I admire your honesty, courage (for I do believe it takes courage to make this big a change! ❤️), and commitment! I’ve never thought about this or about going 100% no plastic, but I’ll have to keep it in mind. If I am hurting animals I think I would like to do my part to stop that even if it is baby steps! I liked how you mentioned taking on the mountain, but I might work better with the baby steps but still definite idea. But the Lord is merciful and good to me in helping me accomplish tasks! And, I like the idea of less clutter! So, you go girl!! You can do it and Jesus believes in you too! Rom 8:34

    I also liked your comment about your clothes, I realized that I shouldn’t place my happiness in things or having ” perfect” things. Which is what the Bible says to do “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.
    1 Timothy 6:17‭-‬19 ESV

    In other words, I like the idea of not focusing on things but focusing on making memories with people and rejoicing in God’s goodness. 🙂

    Have a great day!!!

    Jesus loves you and finds no fault in you! Rom 8:33-34

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.