I’ve been mulling over this post since early fall but lately I’ve felt more confident than ever that it’s something I need to do. I thought I’d share now in the event anyone is insane enough to join me but I’m diving in headfirst regardless.
I’ve decided to stop shopping for an entire year, starting January 1.
So far I’ve only told a few people and their reactions have been 94% sheer disbelief… a whole lot of “HAHAHAAHAHA” “sure Meg” “Meg love you but there is no way you can do that” and “you will fail” (thanks C ;). Unfortunately most people don’t realize the best way to get me to do something is to tell I can’t :) There have also been a select few that immediately encouraged me and told me they thought it was a great idea. To those people I say THANK YOU. You have no idea what a relief it was to have even a glimmer of support!
My reasons and thoughts about doing this are so all over the place that I think the best way to manage is a Q+A style format. I’ll answer the questions I’ve gotten so far but please feel free to leave any others in the comments and I will add to this post. Here we go:
I’m tired. And I feel a little bit like a phony. Everything I’ve written about buying quality over quantity is true. And I adamantly follow my “one in, one out” rule and can purge like no one I’ve ever met. But it’s almost to a fault. I’ve figured out that I purge in order to replace. My quest for the perfect everything is quite literally endless and it’s worn me out, financially and mentally. I’ve done a LOT of thinking about this and the best solution aside from licking my wounds that I could think of what to go through all four seasons following my typical purge behavior but without the ability to replace things. What do I actually love? What do I actually need? I’m so obsessed with finding the best version of everything that I’m not sure I know anymore.
I also have less headspace than ever before. When I did some deep soul searching and thought about what actually makes me “busy” I realized a lot if it is my own choices. My weekends are stressful because I have so many things to do, but most of them are optional. I don’t remember the last time my list of errands wasn’t 75% packages to be mailed back, things to return to J.Crew, bills to mail… it never stops. So, I think of this as additive (time regained to focus on things I care about like Nell + C) vs. substractive (no longer being able to shop). I simply need a break.
I’ve come to terms with the fact that my attitude on consumerism in good in theory but not in practice. I spend too much money frivolously and a lot of it is influenced by this very space on the internet. We’ve all contributed to creating a new world of over-consumption and a few weeks ago a light bulb went off for me that telling people to buy things isn’t the only way to have a voice here. True, I won’t make much money, but that’s never been why I’m here in the first place. The benefit of blogging for me is connecting with others and I think I’ll be a lot healthier if I connect with you all over something other than shopping.
Lastly, in preparing for this challenge I’ve done a bunch of research and found that 100% of the books I’ve read give the impression that you have to be a crunchy, outdoor-oriented individual with little interest in fashion or appearance in order to live and consume responsibly. This really bothered me. I care a lot about what I wear and I think that’s ok. I don’t think a desire to be polished, professional, and invest in quality pieces negates your eligibility to commit to sustainability. Of course this is just my hypothesis as I’ve never done this before, but in general I felt like all of the books I read were great but weren’t speaking to me, as a professional working mom that values aesthetics.
What are the rules?
I am not shopping for myself in 2019. I am not making that commitment on behalf of my household. Actually, while C loves to shop, he’s much more responsible than I am and is much less inclined to make impulse purchases. I’d imagine that once we remove shopping from our weekend “activity” list it will have some impact on his choices as well, but that won’t be intentional. That said, we do still have a household to maintain, so here are my rules (influenced in part by Cait Flanders’ The Year of Less):
No purchasing clothing, shoes or accessories
Essentials like socks + underwear are allowed but only via replacing ones I have with similar versions (i.e. Gap Body, no upgrades!)
One purge every season. In the past I’ve rushed to purge when I feel cramped by my belongings and while I clean out a lot, I haven’t been as thoughtful as I should be and end up re-buying versions of things I used to own.
Similarly, I am allowed to replace an item ONLY if it’s made it through an entire season (and requisite purge) and I will need it for a future season in 2019 (i.e. a pair of nude flats that I wear year-round). C will be the judge if something is actually worn out.
Capture use of all cosmetics (including shampoo etc.). One of Cait’s key points in her book is that we think we need to stockpile way more than we do - she found she only used a few bottles of shampoo in an entire year, not ten, for example.
I can replace fully used up cosmetics + toiletries but only with an exact replacement. This is where I can put the good behaviors I’ve learned into practice, as I currently love my makeup routine and have no reason to “try” a million new things.
Use up ALL skincare before buying or replacing. I have a cabinet full of stuff I felt I desperately needed when I bought it. Therefore I need to use it all up - I have a hunch this will get me through at least the early summer. After that my replacement rule is in effect.
Nell is growing like a weed - I can buy her her requisite staples at H&M and BabyGap and can order a Mac & Mia box for her once a season. She’s a baby and doesn’t need much more than that.
Because I’m worried that I will compensate for my loss of shopping for clothing but over-shopping in other areas like home, I’m cutting myself off there as well. The only two things we know we need next year are curtain rods for the living room and another IKEA chair. Aside from that, home is off-limits and the same seasonal purge process will apply. I’m pretty minimal with clutter as it is but I’ve been really inspired by my Danish colleague’s approach to home lately and am excited to further simplify.
Will you blog about it?
I think so? Again I am viewing this as additive vs. subtractive, so if I find that I have more free time and Nell is sleeping and I feel compelled to share on a regular basis I will. If I find that I have more time and blogging/social feels like a chore and/or a temptation, I will share that too, but mostly I will post regularly on instagram.
Will you accept blogger gifts, paid partnerships, or sponsorships?
Yes, but only if they are aligned with my mission in 2019. I.e., if I am looking to replace a worn out button down and a brand offers to send one, I will try it. But typical sponsored posts of things I don’t need or buy won’t make the cut. To be fair, I’m pretty small fish in this world so I’m not overwhelmed with relevant requests, and I say no to most of them already anyway.
I would also be open to working with brands that value sustainable, investment pieces, and quality lifetime investments (like YearlyCo) that help me better commit to my experiment.
What does your support network look like?
Hmmm right now? 1.5 coworkers that think I can do it, and this space. Hoping to gain momentum as I go haha.
Can we join you?
Sure! That’s why I am posting now. I’ve been doing “inventory light” and evaluating any obvious holes in my wardrobe in order to set myself up for success. If you’re really wanting to join me, shoot me an email as I might consider a Facebook group etc. if there is enough interest. (UPDATE: the Facebook Group is off an running! Click here to join us!)
I can’t think of anything else major. Again, if I feel like it, there may be financial and wellness posts along the way. I am doing Whole30 along with my colleagues and Mycah in January, and I think it will be easier to focus on things like that without the distraction of shopping etc.
Looking forward to taking on 2019 with a renewed, simplified perspective on what matters.