Nothing New Year

A personal experiment to purchase only used or pre-owned items for a full year.
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“Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” — Mom

“Every dollar you spend, or don’t spend, is a vote you cast for the world you want” — L.N. Smith

               It has been about four years since I gave away 90% of my belongings. Finding out about minimalism at 21 was an almost out-of-body giddy moment, convinced that this has to be one of the recipes to happiness. In 2019, still addicted to that same lightness, I started looking for ways to push it further. Having already simplified my life to only the objects that add value, I now had to figure out the best way of bringing those recurring items into my life.

I wanted to see if it was even possible to personally stop supporting consumerism for a year. I wanted to try buying nothing new for a full year; not so much to analyze what objects I was bringing into my life, but rather who I was supporting monetarily with my daily existence. I wanted to know if I could even step out of a system that makes it a fight to find a company that is manufactured ethically & sustainably sourced & vegan & not green washing — only to then find out they were secretly bought out by Procter & Gamble.

The working theory was that if I only acquire objects that people have already purchased but no longer want for whatever reason (the shampoo didn’t work on their hair type, they bought the wrong size, they are decluttering, etc) then I am getting around giving any money to these corporations at the same time that I am saving an item from being wasted. The motivation was never about saving money, but due to this experiment I ended up saving around 3100$ CAD.

  • Rent/Bills
  • Food
  • Gas
  • Events
  • Prescriptions (Meds/Contacts)
  • Apps (Headspace)
  • Doctor Appointments

  • Toilet Paper (Get a bidet)
  • Spa things (Massage/Nails)
  • Phone case that fits
  • Shampooing at haircut

  • White Fragility book by Robin DiAngelo (Couldn’t find it used, but the subject was too important)
  • An original painting (Supporting my friend’s new business)

So what now? It turns out that this has been such a deeply gratifying and joyfilled experiment that I’m continuing my Nothing New Year into 2021, but with the addition of allowing purchases from local and small businesses. My first purchase on January 1st 2021 will be a 12 pack of Canadian-sewn organic cotton underwear from a small Toronto business (because who would have guessed that underwear was next to impossible to find used/pre-owned.)

Note: This project took place during 2020, aka COVID times. Since March, all items were procured at a distance and in following with the most updated health recommendations.

by Rachael Seatvet