Tuesday, July 15, 2014

12 Reasons to Buy Nothing New. Style, Environmentalism, and Deep Introspection.

Although I'm a lifelong thrifter, for about four years now I've taken a Buy Nothing New vow. With a few exceptions (underwear, indie biz purchases, work necessities- judiciously) I avoid retail stores and buy everything I need or want from yard sales, thrift stores, and flea markets (or hunt down freebies). It sounds restricting and sometimes it is, but it's a challenge everyone should try.


Four years in, I've come up with the following 12 reasons I dare everyone to Buy Nothing New.

1. Exclusivity: I curate my home and wardrobe almost exclusively with 2nd hand finds. There's an exclusivity that comes with designing this way, no one's home or wardrobe is going to look quite like yours.

2. Savings: You will save hundreds each year waiting to obtain furniture, clothing, and other essentials at discounts, from thrift stores, or for free. (As hand-me-downs, from the curbside, etc.) I love building up my savings without sacrificing quality.

3. Better Experience: My favorite flea market vendors know me by name and they're always animated and interesting. The people I meet through indie and second-hand shopping experiences are delightful. I can't normally say this about the conventional retail shopping experience.

4. "Beat The System" / Anti-Consumerism:  We're constantly bombarded with buy/buy/buy proclamations at every corner of life in our Capitalism-ruled lives. (And I'm part of the system, I know I can't escape. Even though I'm as indie as humanly possible.) I love giving a big Eff You to the man and escaping the constant flashing advertisements by making due with what I have and finding what I need without buying anything new. It's not total escapism as I'm still buying, but at least it doesn't support slave labor.


5. Creativity: Limitations force creativity, it's a fact. Some of my absolute favorite movies or projects are quirky and unique because of budget or time limitations forcing directors and set designers to make the most out of the little they had. Using my resources wisely forces me to try what I wouldn't and keeps creative juices flowing. I don't "buy" solutions, I make them.

6. Introspection: Consumerism is deeply psychological and like I've covered many times before (read) we will often buy physical items to fill an emotional void. Avoiding the retail machine forces me to step back and examine why I want to buy something new. We shouldn't need a material item for that type of spiritual fulfillment.

7. Environment: I can easily see the Wall-E future really happening, a future where robots are invented to dig humans out from under miles-deep piles of capitalist culture trash. We're mindlessly producing and disposing, it has to stop. I love not contributing to the clutter and buying used. There's plenty to go around. As an experienced thrifted I'm confident there's already enough resources made for everyone on the planet to be well clothed and all homes well furnished.

I'm currently re-designing my apartment using mostly what I find second-hand, what I already own, what I make, family heirlooms and art.

8. Socialism: Some (most?) of what you can buy in big chain retail stores was made by slave labor. I can't support this in good conscience. (Watch The High Cost of Low Prices on Netflix if you haven't for a detailed look at this in action.)

9. Independence: Going without buying new things forces you to learn new skills and become less dependent on the government and higher powers to make a living. Speaking of independence, this allows us to support indie business owners! (We need the help!)

10. Family/Community: Why decorate with ubiquitous retail items when your family heirlooms have such an amazing story to tell? Shop your parent's and grandparent's house for wares. Furthermore, why buy an item you use once a year when you can borrow it from friends, family or neighbors? Do the same likewise for them. Buying nothing new strengthens your community bond.

11. New Skills: Gardening, sewing, hunting, there are so many sustainable skills to learn when you make an effort to avoid the retail beast.

12. More Value: You value your few retail items more when they're rare. And your second-hand items (especially if they're vintage, which are often of higher quality than conventional items made today) could have more literal value than what you could buy at the store. You could resell a vintage items you found for yourself for more down the line if desired and it will outlast your "new" clothing and furniture finds! Same goes for buying from indie craftsmen.

I'm no saint. I lust over and occasionally succumb to the retail monster. I understand the allure. BUT for the many reasons you see above continuing to keep as close to my Buy Nothing New vow as possible. It's incredibly enriching. I challenge you to Buy Nothing New. Your wallet and your soul will thank you.

BTW: Katy's The Non Consumer Advocate is an inspiring read for people who want to live this lifestyle. Any others to share? Let me know in the comments.
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.

34 comments:

  1. I couldn't agree more! Even though I do still shop retail, I have really really cut back in the past year or two. I also raise my kids to understand what I refer to as "wasteful spending" Because I want them to understand that I am not being cheap, we are just getting away from being wasteful. I think the message really hit home when I bought a new dress for a wedding and my son lectured me about spending money at the mall and how it stands for everything we stand against. etc etc. We went to Islands Adventure for his 5th grade field trip and he made fun of every kids walking around with bags of overpriced crap from the shops there. He said "you know you just over paid for a bunch of crap that you will play with for 5 minutes and then next year you will be donating to Goodwill". So I think my kids are really starting to get it. There are some things in which I only will buy new, such as soft goods furniture (allergies in this house), We are definitely not 100% there, but we are definitely trying to be better because buying second hand is so much better!

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    1. I've bought a couple of retail things, it's hard to resist and sometimes you do just need something now. Especially with kids. I love the way you put it, "we're not being cheap, just getting away from being wasteful" ! Well said. I love teaching this lesson to kids, my nieces and nephews love thrifting with my mom and I. They can get ample toys and clothes for less, win/win.

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    2. It gets to a point that I could never purchase an $800 purse when there are families that cant even buy food or medicine. I would feel embarrassed to walk around with an expensive purse when people cant eat. It doesn't matter that I can afford it, it doesn't matter what people can or cannot afford. When someone is comfortable in their own skin, they don't need to prove anything to anyone. Those high end companies are just ripping people off and laughing their way to the bank! "haha, I sell purses for $1000 and people buy them!" I'm not falling into that.

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    3. Yep, I hate labels and don't buy into that shit what so ever. I may support artist I like, but not a big brand with inflated prices. (Without inflated quality- no one's going to convince me there. Sure, slightly better but not for that price tag.) People do it to flaunt a status, why? It boggles my mind.

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  2. I must admit that I didn't really start thrifting secondhand stuff until I discovered the joys of earning an income selling online. However, since beginning this journey, my entire family has discovered that there really isn't much of anything we want, that if we're willing to wait a bit, we won't be able to find secondhand for a fraction of the new price. We're that way about caring for what we already have as well. For example, we drive our vehicles until they absolutely die. If something breaks on them, we don't run out and trade them in. My husband fixes them. My husband is not a mechanic, but through reading manuals and watching youtube videos, he's learned to fix almost anything that can and will go wrong. I know we've saved tens of thousands of dollars on car payments and car repairs with his willingness and ability to learn and do these things.

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    1. I'm the opposite, I've been thrifting and dumpster diving my whole life and didn't discover reselling until I started blogging. But reselling made me thrift more and like you described, it gave me patience and helped me realize that if you wait, you really can get it for less. I want to learn to repair cars and everything else I possibly can and stretch our investments to the furthest. This is what our grandparents and the parents before them did, it's sad we have to make an effort to get back to that.

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  3. Not sure whether you can get this documentary in the States but its a fascinating insight into consumerism. http://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2014/jul/14/the-made-who-made-us-spend-review

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    1. Oh thanks for sharing this, gonna watch this asap! :)

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  4. I love your attitude regarding this! Definitely saving this post. Once my mother and her siblings were grown, my grandmother cut retail out of her life altogether, and she is the most fashionable lady you'll ever see at your yard sale! Her house is practically a museum because she has turned it into an art...she was even featured in our local paper because of it! She taught me to be a master second hand shopper, and it's probably padded my bank account more than any other lesson I've ever learned.

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    1. Thanks for sharing the story Kelly, your grandma sounds like my hero! My grandparents are the same way, they still have their same clothes and a lot of their furniture from the 1960s. I'm excited to visit them in Puerto Rico and check it out again this month :) They're from poverty and the attitude evolved out of necessity.

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  5. The bit about making do as a jump start to creativity is a really good point. Oftentimes, if we don't just have the money to buy what we think we want/need at the moment it forces us to come up with creative solutions that are far more intriguing than what a person finds in the mass produced world.

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    1. Yep! Creativity HAS to have limitations to work (more on that in a future posts) so limited budget is an amazing way to do it. Save money and produce better work, it's a win/win.

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  6. Great read! My wife and I have adopted this lifestyle much more deeply than in the past now that we have decided that she will be a stay-at-home mom. We have always been more interested in second hand (and I collect vintage toys) but we now fully realize the sheer amount of waste that comes with a baby. Not speaking only about diapers (we go cloth) but the "stuff" people fill your house with for the baby. In truth a baby likes three main things, any sort of rope thick string, bouncy balls, and blocks. All the other blinking, singing, moving, stuff is just a brief distraction.

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    1. Love your perspective as a new family. I've always thought the same thing with babies, they don't need much, and the rest fills thrift stores and landfills when they outgrow it all in a few months to a couple of years.

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  7. You really inspire me, lady. :) Thank you.

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  8. Great post Van. I wish I had the appreciation for used stuff back when I was in my 20's. I could have saved thousands, but that was the 80's and it was all about spending and the "me" generation. Friends were getting engaged and getting big diamond rings, having 30K weddings, buying new condos and putting their babies in designer clothes. Used was not "in" like it is now. Today with times being so tough, it's more acceptable.

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    1. I can't imagine it *shudder* :P I don't communicate with them much but I'm sure there are people these days still grossed out by 2nd hand shopping, my roomie is a little bit that way. Thanks for sharing your eighties experience, I was 1-4 in the eighties. From what I recall I LOVED my thrifted Transformers/Ninja Turtles VHS tapes and Nintendo/games.

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  9. I buy almost nothing new except underwear. We always try and shop used first, partly to save the planet but honestly, mostly to save money - love this post!

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    1. Saving money's a good reason, too :D Yeah I buy new socks/undies from time to time, have had the same ones last a good while. I do take hand-me-down bras from my mom! Ha! I'll buy new ones when I'm at my ideal size perhaps? I see no point buying new ones when my weight's still yo-yoing.

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  10. Portland rocks with all of this. The trend here is to pit what you're giving away on the corner instead of bringing it to Goodwill. We just found a brand new bed (seriously still wrapped!) on our sidewalk. I pretty much got everything for our kitchen from those boxes and I find so much clothes it's insane. Anywhoooo I have always been like this,. Funny thing is, since we gave up our car and only use motorcycles people assume we are poor. Sure is six figures is poor, then we are poor. OR we live by our own rules. It's to bad if you give up what society "expects" you to have you are labeled one way or another, hmmmm sounds like a good blog post doesn't it.

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    1. Sorry about the misspells iPads suck

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    2. I was raised thrifting and always have but have parred back retail purchases to almost nothing since I've started this blog. Wish I may anywhere near six figures, more like...haha, barely nothing. :D But even if I did I wouldn't change my lifestyle in the slightest. It's liberating and even fun to live this way.

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    3. No problem on any typos, holy crap I can't type worth a damn on my stupid smart phone.

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  11. I am with u on all of it!!! Realistically it's just nor sustainable. Combined with all the other moral and psychological points...
    I am still a consumer, tho. I love the human hustle and bustle of a good buy/sell/trade market! Just on the local, indie biz, environmental tip :)

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    1. Yes the human interaction can't be beat. Everyone's always so cheerful! Versus retail where there's a lot of the opposite, haha.

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  12. Love this topic, one of the reasons I always read what you post. I was brought up by parents who lived through the Depression AND were children of poor imigrants so I totally get being thrifty. So much of what is sold today is cheaply made and ugly. I replaced knobs around my house with finds from an archetectural salvage store and I smile everytime I use them, they are tiny works of art. Kitchen ware was made to last and I specifically look for old pans, knives, etc. Most newer items cannot compare with the quality of what I've found and I get my pieces for a song! Plus, I really like the idea of reusing something that someone else cared for and used.
    I shudder when I see how some people spend money while others go hungry and without. I am a big fan of Mad Men and I realize how much we are manipulated. One of the positive things to come out of these challenging times is that perhaps more people will reject our crazy consumer society.
    Your little robot shopper is adorable...I of course want one!

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    1. I'm from a long line of poverty and being resourceful, too. And yep, like you said with Mad Men, it's all about creating the illusion of "Want". We don't really need any of that shit.

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  13. P.S. Your post was inspiration for mine! I linked back to you, 'course!

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    1. Thanks for the link love, love the post!

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  14. I'm just plain cheap AND we have VERY little financial wiggle room in my home - so I really don't care if it's new or used just as long as it's cheap. Seriously, home décor, clothing, bath and beauty products - nothing cost over $5 per item in this home! A used $2 shirt at a thrift store and a $2 shirt on a clearance rack a retail store - it's all the same to me!!

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    1. I have bought clearance retail items, it's annoying when thrift store prices rise so that you can actually buy brand new things for less. Goodwill dresses are $7.00 down here! I try to avoid retail in general since it's a system that hurts slave laborers in other countries but sometimes I can't resist the allure of a $2 shirt like anyone else.

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  15. While thrifting is very interesting (I only wish we had thrift stores here!) and I agree with your points, I've always wondered if it really is an alternative to the consumeristic mindset. I mean that buying seconhand is still buying, so still a way to fill an emotional void with material things. What do you think?

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    1. It's a way to avoid supporting slave labor but I agree, it's still a way to fill emotional voids with material possessions, I agree. That's another reason why I like to step back from it for a long while and really make sure I'm only thrifting for things I need the same way I would with a rare retail purchase.

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I love reading your comments. Thank you for adding to the discussion! I always reply to any and all questions.

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