December of 2019 I set out to complete a challenge that would test my strength as a consumer in a capitalist society — a no buy year.
In the beginning, I was determined and thought of going without buying non-essential items a piece of cake… a walk in a park perhaps. It wasn’t until the Fall and Winter months rolled around that my efforts started to go down hill.
It wasn’t that I completely threw in the towel and went on a shopping spree; it was more like small acts that eventually led me down a road of completely forgetting I was even doing a challenge.
A thrifted shirt here, a new book there, the no buy year was tucked away from the forefront of my mind, but instead of beating myself up about not completing the challenge, I took the opportunity to look back and praise my efforts.
One thing that was learned during this challenge was that it’s possible to go without consuming non-essentials, but deprivation of the things that bring you joy (especially in the midst of a global crisis) is hell.
This isn’t to say I didn’t find joy in non-material ventures such as spending time with family, rather, the act of intentionally welcoming in new items helped add to that pre-existing joy.
I am a huge book reader. I can’t go more than two days without reading a book because I’ll feel like something is missing and due to the pandemic, going to libraries is a no-go so I had a choice: break my no buy year and purchase new books or go insane. Luckily I chose the former.
All that to say, instead of looking at my failure as.. well, a failure, I’m looking at it as a learning experience — a very valuable one at that.
I went a full 8 months which is something to acknowledge. I learned what things I consider essential and non-essential and how important some non-essentials are to me.
I encourage anyone looking for a challenge in 2021 to try a “No Buy Year”. It will stretch you and challenge you to evaluate the things in your life and help you gain another level of awareness that probably wasn’t there before.