Happy new year. 2017 was . . . so many things. Full of change, turmoil, natural disaster, political upheaval. One thing about the turning of the calendar’s page is that it brings a sense of newness. The idea that we have a clean slate of sorts. Which is probably why so many people make resolutions as we welcome this fresh start. We resolve that in some ways this new year will be different than the last.
Even though it may be true that many of us have trouble keeping our resolutions and sound research indicates perhaps not resolutions, but incremental lifestyle changes are more effective, still we persist in making them. At least I do. Some years I am more successful than others.
This year I am sharing my resolution at least in part because I hope it will help me keep it.
For years I have been working to curb my consumerism. This course has been fueled by several related factors. I want to have more resources to share with those in need. I don’t want to support unfair and exploitative labor practices which are prevalent in so many of the things which are available for our consumption, so I try to consume less. I want to be a good example to my daughters who are bombarded all the time with images of all the things they are told they need to look, feel and be better.
So all of this to say for 2018 I am trying a year without shopping. I’ve been encouraged by reading of other’s experiences with this. And also interested to learn the details about what rules different people put in place for themselves both to accomplish their goals of reducing consumption and moving toward a more simple life and to ensure they stick to their resolution.
The reasons I am committing to this resolution are essentially:
- To further remove myself from potentially unethical supply chains – as much as possible. It is not as though we cannot buy things that are sourced ethically but it does take a lot of effort and intention. By buying so much less (see exceptions below) I am taking myself out of the supply chain.
- To free up money to give to causes I believe in and help alleviate suffering in the world.
- To create a platform of discussion with my daughters (and others) about consumerism, marketing, generosity and sacrifice.
- To better understand my own consumerism and see where I am tempted – where it is hard to resist the call of things and therefore learn more about myself.
I am not including things like going out to eat or experiences like vacation in this “fast”. For me, although this would fit in with some of my goals, when I am spending money in this way it is often in the context of relationships and, at least for now, I feel like this is money well spent.
My rules are simple and far from original. I will not buy any THING in 2018 Except . . .
Food and medicine (obviously!)
Broken things that cannot be fixed and are essential – I can’t really imagine I will be invoking this one too much. My husband can fix pretty much anything!
Books – this is a pretty big exception as books are a big weakness so I will try not abuse this one, but I read as part of my job. I will also try and use the library whenever possible (I have already put a hold on Chernow’s new Grant biography at my local library)
Gifts – I struggled with whether to make this an exception. I love giving gifts. In the end I decided to follow the example of those who did not carve out a special gift exception. Meaning I could give books as a gift (as they are already an exception) and experiences (I could offer babysitting to my many friends with little ones or the giftee out to do something together).
International Vacation – I will be traveling out of the country in June along with my best friend to celebrate our 40th birthdays! I rarely travel outside of the East Coast of the US let alone leave the country. Like 3-4x in my life. So I feel like this is a rare moment in my life and I may want a momento so I am carving out an exception.
And so it begins. 2018, my year without shopping.