Hello friends! It’s now just under 4 weeks until we depart to France for our minimalist wedding, and for the most part I’ve been doing well at making the time to live slowly. While I’ve had a few stressed-out moments over the past few weeks, for the most part I think I have kept my cool and, fortunately, panic has now been replaced by excitement. The reality is, I’m going to a country I’ve never been to before to marry my favourite person in the whole world. Hell yeah!
I’m also excited that this will be my first time travelling minimally in the true sense of the word. While I would say I have always been a pretty light traveller, I’ve never consciously gone on a trip with the absolute minimum. In preparation for our holiday, we have invested in two small secondhand suitcases (the kind most people would pack for a weekend trip!) and I have already started some experimental packing to see if they will be big enough. All the clothes I’ll be packing take up about half of one of the suitcases, so combined with Mr SLE’s clothes, one toiletries bag between us, a few cables, some vitamins and just a few other bits and pieces, I’m confident we’ll have ample space. Hurrah!
Anyway, today I’m checking in again about the progress of my Nothing New Project. While I have been a little quiet about this lately due to everything that is going on with wedding preparations, the project continues and I am still enjoying it. The other day I started thinking about everything I have learnt so far, and so many things occurred to me that I thought it could be worth sharing them here on the blog. Here is what buying nothing new has taught me so far…
Buying nothing new makes us more sensitive to joy. I first came across the concept of becoming more sensitive to joy through KonMari, and buying nothing new has really made me feel more in tune with this idea. When we stop impulse purchasing and decide to consume only what we really need, it’s easier to enjoy the things we already have and tune into what it is we really love about those things. Our enjoyment of colours, textures, smells and our perception of our own feelings can be heightened when we aren’t constantly obsessing over what we’re missing out on.
Buying nothing new dissolves decision fatigue. This is something that has plagued me enormously until now. When you really need something and there are only a few secondhand options available to you, there’s not even an opportunity to feel indecisive! There are still other aspects of my life where decision fatigue presents itself (don’t even get me started on how long it takes me to choose and ice cream flavour…) but I’m trying to take what I’m learning on this front from the project and apply it in other areas. The underlying principle is the same: I can be happy with what I already have.
Buying nothing new highlights the importance of interactions over transactions. I have become more aware than ever before of the sterile nature of buying stuff since boycotting the shops. While ‘retail therapy’ is a favourite pastime of many first-worlders, taking a break from it reveals how boring it is. On the other hand, supporting the secondhand market encourages face-to-face interaction between buyer and seller; there’s a feel-good human element to it that buying something brand-new can’t compete with.
Buying nothing new frees up the time and energy to appreciate and work on our relationships. Before now, I never really realised how much time buying stuff takes up. I have now been consciously trying to divert the time and energy I might have previously spent on shopping to working on improving my relationships with others. Having strong, healthy relationships with family and friends brings long-lasting joy that the fleeting enjoyment of an impulse buy could never compare with.
Buying nothing new brings out our creativity. When buying something new is not an option, more often than not going without the item is the most practical option. Since starting the project, I’ve learnt about the power of superglue, the multipurpose nature of string, the importance of some strategically-placed duct tape, and how easy it actually is to darn socks (me with a needle and thread in hand? I barely recognise myself anymore!).
Buying nothing new takes the focus away from the external and highlights the internal and the individual. When we pay less attention to acquiring new things, outward appearances becomes less important as well. Experimenting with buying nothing new has helped me to pay less attention to how others come across, and also to be less perceptive of others’ judgements (I’m referring to that ‘once-over’ we’re all familiar with…). Fashion-wise, buying nothing new is a great way of finding quirky and creative pre-loved pieces that express our individual style, instead of opting for the mass-produced items that everyone is wearing.
Buying nothing new goes hand-in-hand with zero waste. Of course, this goes without saying, but I hadn’t really realised to what degree buying nothing new would help me in my ZW endeavours. By buying only pre-loved items or simply going without (along with buying more and more food items unpackaged), we have recently managed to get rid of our ‘normal’ size bin and install a tiny countertop bin in our kitchen (which is the one we used to have in the bathroom, but we don’t need one in there anymore!).
Buying nothing new raises awareness about the harm our throwaway society is doing. Whether they think it’s a great idea or a form of self-torture, people are intrigued by the idea of buying nothing new. While it can be frustrating when some don’t understand the ‘point’ of the whole thing, or sarcastically apologise for the brand-new item they are toting, it’s encouraging that most people engage with the idea and want to know more. My most recent triumph was that I convinced a gentleman colleague of mine that buying drinking glasses secondhand isn’t disgusting!!