Seven things I love about buying nothing

| October 19, 2015

This October is Buy Nothing New Month, a one month challenge to buy nothing new (with the exception of essentials like food, hygiene and medicines). Rachel Smith took the challenge to the next level. Here she explains why.


I didn’t buy anything new or 2nd hand during 2014 and I saved a staggering 38% of my take-home salary without dramatically changing my life. Here are the seven things I love about quitting shopping and buying.

1. You use up everything that you already have

I used up what I already had. Psychotherapist Stelios Kiosses, who works with extreme hoarders, says there’s a little bit of hoarder in all of us. I used to travel a lot, but even I questioned my sanity when I counted eighty-four bars of hotel soap in my bathroom cupboard. So I used them up, rather than buying shower gel. I used them up, instead of saving them for ‘later’.

2. You make better use of your existing assets

I definitely made better use of my existing assets. I’m no Imelda Marcos, but like most western women, if I’m honest, I only wore 50 per cent of the clothes that I owned. So I got out the entire contents of my wardrobe at the start of my buy-nothing year—looked, pondered, sorted, rearranged and put it all back—and then I wore them all that year. And the things I really didn’t like? Well, I sold them and had clothes-swapping parties with my friends.

3. You swap and share

I like sharing. I had been wanting to read a book called Who stole my mojo? for ages when it turned up on the share shelf at my block of flats. I read it, I gave it back and then I started swapping and sharing the books I owned with neighbours, friends and colleagues. Like Rachel Botsman says, ‘We don’t need to own a drill, we just want a hole in the wall’.

4. You have more time

I had more time—and cash—to spend on awesome days out at the beach. I learnt that lots of people spend a lot of time managing their stuff: and they were desperate to share their pain. My friend Julie told me how she’d spent her entire weekend moving the stuff she didn’t use from one side of her garage to the other.

5. You value what you have

I learnt to really value what I have. When I was growing up, I only got new things on birthdays and at Christmas. I got second-hand clothes from older cousins. I got my first job two weeks after my thirteenth birthday, and I worked hard and saved even harder. I made lists of what I wanted, and when I had enough money saved—and only then—that item became mine. Now credit cards, debit cards and instant credit mean anyone and everyone can have everything right now. The saving, the wanting and the waiting have gone—we get what we want when we want it, whether we want and need it or not.

6. You really want what you’re waiting for

We don’t need much ‘stuff’ to be happy. I learnt that if I waited one whole year for something I would really want it.

7. You can inspire others

What I learnt most was that it only takes one person to get out there and be brave and try something new to inspire many others.

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Rachel Smith

Rachel Smith is the author of 2 books (Decongestion and Underspent), speaker and Principal Transport Planner at AECOM in Brisbane. She has spoken at more than 200 conferences, has 2 TEDx talks and her work has appeared in international media including the BBC, ABC, DW-TV, SBS, Disney Channel and The Economist. She was part of the BMW Guggenheim Lab, developed the first crowd solving bicycle map and won the CIHT BP Road Safety Award and AITPM Janet Brash Memorial Scholarship.

0 Comments

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  2. pemmasani

    November 10, 2015 at 5:19 am

    Sounds Ok

    Sounds ok, but what about the quality of the life we lead. Using someone else's clothes is not a good idea when we really can afford it. If everyone thinks like this I am sure rescession will be right on; people will become jobless.