Although I've decided to stretch out my shopping ban to a full year, I couldn't let 31 December—the end of my original challenge—slip by without giving myself a pat on the back. I did it! I lasted from 1 June to 31 December 2016 without buying any shoes, clothes or accessories! I'm pretty pleased with myself.
I wasn't sure I could do it when I first thought of the idea and even once I got going, but it didn't take me long to realise that I could do it. It's been easier than I could ever have imagined and I have no doubt I will easily make it to a full year of no shopping on 31 May. I'm already more than half way!
These are the things that have helped to make it easier:
- I unsubscribed from all mailing lists for online shops and unfollowed them all on social media as well.
- I posted about my shopping ban on Facebook, which made me more accountable.
- I asked my boyfriend if he wanted a wager on whether I could do the shopping ban and he laughed and said he "already had it won". Now he'll probably claim that was a deliberate ploy to motivate me after numerous failed attempts at lasting even a month without shopping.
- Not working or living near shops. Obviously moving house and changing jobs is not a sensible strategy to remove temptation, but it turned out that where I live and work made the ban easier: my office is at the 'business end' of the CBD where there aren't many stores selling consumer goods; there's only one clothes shop on my route to and from work (which isn't open when I'm passing); and my local shopping strip is almost entirely populated by food and services outlets.
- I enjoyed wearing more of the clothes I already owned—it was like shopping without spending money.
- The ban led me to investigate sustainable clothing and the (massive) downsides of fast fashion, which increased my commitment to not buying new clothes.
These are the lessons I've learned so far:
- I have more than enough (duh!).
- I am more content when I'm not in a constant yearning for new stuff.
- I'm not a hardcore minimalist, but I'm more minimalist than many people.
- Fast fashion is a disaster for the environment and for human rights. I don't want to be a part of it anymore. I want to be a more conscious consumer.
- There's more to ethical clothing than buying from sustainable brands.
But most of all...
I thought this ban on shopping was about money, but it turns out that it's mostly about living. Thinking less about my next new dress or pair of shoes, and eradicating time spent mindlessly browsing online shops, has freed me up to focus on more important things, like how I want to live my life. I've been doing a lot of thinking about this as the new year gets underway. It's not that I didn't think about this stuff before, it's just that now I have fewer distractions and more cash to spend on doing things.
Another five months of no shopping! More focus on intentional living (more to come on this). More saving and hopefully an overseas trip later in the year.
Once this challenge is over, I'm contemplating a year of buying nothing new, probably limited to shoes, clothes and accessories again, but who knows?