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Buy Less, Choose Well

Media on Mars blog post thumbnail: Graphic of a dress on a hanger
Reading Time 5 minutes
Blog post author picture: Lauren Jury Armitage
Monday, 4th April 2016

If you’ve driven past our studio recently you would have spotted our latest billboard “Buy less, choose well”, which was created by our wonderful designer Lauren. The quote was chosen by Lauren after her and her family made a pledge not to buy anything new for the month of February. Read on to hear about Lauren’s experience during this time and the great lessons they learned along the way:

Buy Nothing New

February was a ‘buy-nothing-new’ month in our household. Now that it’s over I reflect that the principles are ones that I will continue to use – maybe forever – even if a little varied sometimes. It was a wonderful way to break the cycle and to be more resourceful.

It was a chance to try and make use of everything we already have. A chance to curtail unconsidered/impulse purchases, reduce our ‘stuff’ and begin decluttering. We made our own rules and these excluded the purchase of non-food retail items (clothing, toys, shoes, books, homewares, etc), meat (lamb, beef and chicken), bread. We could purchase (new) medicine, fresh fruit and veg, dairy (milk, cheese, yoghurt), flour, fish, nuts, pet associated costs, existing bills and services (utilities, donations, fees, hair cuts etc), fuel. There were limitations however. Only two coffees a week! Second hand items, bartering/exchanging are permitted. Anything purchased previously (e.g. PIAF tickets) could still be used.

The idea of buy-nothing-new February can be summed up with our latest billboard, a quote from Vivienne Westwood, “Buy less, choose well”. How true. You can download the billboard as a screen wallpaper – see the end of this post for the links 🙂

If you want to buy less, here are some handy tips:

  1. It’s extremely liberating going into a shop and not having to choose (eg, between brands of peanut butter based on where they were made or how much sugar/preservatives etc they might have in them). You just ignore it all and don’t buy it.
  2. The best way to avoid any purchase-regret is to delay your purchase as long as possible. Possibly until you no longer feel like you even need it. You probably don’t. Once you acknowledge and understand the feeling you get when purchasing something you can then discover other ways to get that same buzz (if it’s a need for control, organise your bookcase or declutter your wardrobe instead; if it’s a need to participate in a transaction, swap something or sell something online; if it’s to be inundated with choice, go to a good will shop and donate money for the opportunity to browse). Make a list instead.
  3. Reduce, reuse, recycle, rethink! Do I need it or want it? If I need it, will it fulfil it’s purpose appropriately? Do I already have something that will do the same job? Can I borrow instead of buying it? Is it the best quality I can afford and proportionality appropriate to the task? Is it durable? Is it reusable? Is it from a sustainable source? Has it been produced ethically? Will I possibly regret this purchase (in 5 mins, in 5 days, in 5 weeks, in 5 years)? Is it on my list?
  4. There are things you need to buy (like retic parts) or your garden will fry in a Perth February.
  5. I found when my daughter asked to buy something new, I could say ‘no’ more easily and explain why not. And this ALWAYS ended up ok. Consistency? Reasoning? Understanding? Realisation that the 50 million other soft dolls at home don’t really need another friend. All of these.
  6. My daughter used money from her own piggy bank to buy stuff (ice cream) because she knew I wouldn’t (usually). This was ok, this Buy-Nothing-New thing was my project, not hers. She also got to see cash in action – not just the card.

I broke the rules…

Our most common (by common I mean three times in February) purchase outside of our own rules was ice cream from an ice cream truck (at the beach, or at the Writers Festival). We bought a few beers if we were out. We bought bread a couple of times when we forgot to make it ourselves. We bought birthday gifts for friends and family. We didn’t buy any meat (and our freezer still isn’t empty) or processed food. We made our own fetta and dog treats. I filled the hand wash up with body wash (which we had three full bottle of).

What I’d work on…

Planning ahead and preparing/creating/making more gifts (of the super cool variety); continuing to make a list of items I feel like buying and putting off buying them as long as possible; continue decluttering (see Marie Kondo’s ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up’); invest more time and energy into developing our garden to produce more of our food; continue raving about how much better experiences are over material possessions (blah, blah – they truly are); using what we have more.

Here’s a good article from the BBC about taming your impulse buying.

Download our latest billboard “Buy less, choose well” as your desktop wallpaper in the correct size for your screen:

3000 x 1875

1920 x 1200

1024 x 768

20 Years

In the game for twenty years.

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