terra, not terror

sharing ideas about a simpler way to live

buy nothing new February 3, 2008

terra @ 4:03 pm

I’m going to start buying nothing new. The key word is ‘new.’ I still have to buy things, but I will try to reduce spending and reuse items, instead of buying new stuff.

The more I learn about what consumerism does to the planet and our fellow man, the harder it is for me to buy cheap new stuff. While the cost to me may be low, the toll on the planet and the people who make the stuff is huge. I look forward to the adventure of finding great new-to-me stuff, only when I need it. This is a personal thing that not everyone can do, but I look forward to the experience.

If you’re buying nothing new, I hope you’ll comment here about how it goes for you. What are your challenges and victories? Great finds, suggestions, new local shops. We can do this project together. Comments are in chronological order, so the newest thoughts will be at the bottom.

Good luck!

(I was inspired by The Compact.)


7 Responses to “buy nothing new”

  1. terra Says:

    Here are my exceptions: food, underwear, and shoes. Those items, along with yarn and candles, I will try to buy locally. I will also buy pet food and hopefully kitty litter locally. Those are our routine purchases. We really don’t buy a lot of stuff, so I don’t know yet what the big challenges will be. Additionally, I’m going on vacation in a few months, and I will buy souvenirs there. But I won’t be going to a big box store, so I think it’s ok. Also, I’m thinking about buying a scooter. This will reduce my impact on the planet because scooters get over 100 mpg. I will still consider buying one used.

  2. terra Says:

    Here’s a good one… I lost my water bottle. I’ve been using a plastic reusable bottle, but I read that #7 isn’t great, because plastic chemicals leech into the water. The best kind is metal. So, about a month ago, I bought a metal one from a local grocer. I lost it! Now I’ll have to get another one. I just can’t bring myself to get a used water bottle. I’m back to the plastic one in the meantime.

    The other thing that’s tough is an “emergency” situation where you need to get something pronto, but there are only chain stores nearby. I had to buy de-icing salt this weekend, and the only stores I could locate quickly were Target and Giant Eagle. (It was semi-urgent because we were moving stuff and everything was ice) Since I have a hard time telling the difference between Target and WalMart lately, I chose Giant Eagle. I only paid $2.11. But the lesson was that it’s hard to buy necessary items quickly at a local store. I’ll work harder on that.

  3. terra Says:

    While I was sick, I had to go to the grocery store for my prescription. I usually shop a Krieger (a small market), so it was truly shocking to see all the junk at the grocery store. It was like culture shock! I haven’t spend that much time in a regular grocery store in years, so it was really strange to see the Spongebob Thermometers, all the flavored throat drops (which have food coloring and High Fructose Corn Syrup), not to mention all the pre-cut, packaged fruits & vegetables. Like it really takes that long to cut some fruit and veggies. No wonder our economy is struggling. People pay outrageous prices to have someone else peel their garlic or dice their onions, then package it in petroleum-based containers that will just be thrown in the landfill. Anyway…

    I was tempted to get some new shoes the other day. I should just avoid the chain stores! So, I looked at them, and I didn’t get them. Reason set in… my shoes are fine. I just don’t like them very much. That’s not a great reason to buy new shoes.

    I did get my new reusable bottle, since I lost one. And, we saw the musical, Wicked, and a bought a necklace at the show. It reminds me of Elphaba in the book, and it was hand-made in the USA, so I feel ok about it.

    So far, nothing else new. My trip is coming up next month, and I will probably need to get a few things for that. Not much though, and I’ll try to find creative ways to reuse objects we currently have, or to find stuff at the Goodwill or Village Discount Outlet. We have so many great resources to find reusable items.

  4. Suezenny Says:

    I love the buy nothing new concept, and though I fail at it more than I would like to admit, I still try to be conscience of what I purchase. Great comment about the shoes. I have a ton of clothes, yet I feel that my garb collection is rather bland and outdated, yet I can’t muster up the desire to replenish it. I’ve recently spent a little over an entire year into my 30’s, and I just don’t really give a damn about the style of my clothes. All I care about now is if I’m presentable for work and mildly presentable for after work. I’d rather work on my reading collection than my wardrobe. I know…big words, but mostly it just comes from the fact that I’m pretty damn lazy.

    Additionally, I find shopping to be an absolute bore. when done in a big box store….depressing. I find that if i don’t absolutely need something, then I’d rather stay at home than look for replacing old items be it clothes, jewelry, furniture, etc. Infact I usually have an hour window of patience for shopping. After the hours up, I just don’t care if I need anything anymore….i must quit. I think it’s a genetically pre-disposed rebellious refusal to my consumer oriented upbringing. Some say shopping’s more fun if you have lots of cash….bull. I recently started donating more of my cash as of late, and it feels way better than shopping. Really liked that eco-straw filtration thing-a-ma-gig….Fantastic!

    I’ll tell you where I do spend the majority of my cash….gasoline (unfortunately), good food, good beer/wine. I’d love to stop the gasoline. I really hope light rail becomes a reality some day.

  5. terra Says:

    I know how you feel! It’s so strange to go to the mall and see people spending their money (on credit) on useless stuff, while drinking their sugar-drinks. (I was at the mall for a haircut today.)

    It’s so refreshing to save money and not have a bunch of junk. Most things people buy only last about 6 months. (See the Story of Stuff) We save money that we can use on things we really value, like traveling to spend time with family and friends, and to see the world. I’d rather travel than have “new” outfits. Like you, Suezenny, we also spend our money on good food.

    Speaking of getting new stuff. I got a great “new to me” jacket from the Goodwill a few weeks ago. It’s an Audrey Hepburn type jacket, and it was only $6! We can find anything we need (or want) at reuse shops.

  6. terra Says:

    I like writing this blog, learning new and wonderful ways to live a simpler life. However, in doing so, I also learn about some of the bad things people do to make the products we enjoy. I try to reduce my consumption of those things as much as possible. Plastic is the worst, but that’s not the focus of this comment.

    I recently learned about how Girl Scouts started a petition to stop the use of palm oil in Girl Scout cookies. Rainforest habitats are being destroyed to plant palm plantations for harvesting palm oil for our snacks. Habitat destruction is probably the leading cause of extinction of precious animals, such as orangutans. Point is…
    One of my favorite snacks is Twizzlers. I’m a real sugarholic, and Twizzlers are low-fat and vegan. There is absolutely no health benefit, so I shouldn’t eat them anyway – what’s the point? But, I checked the ingredients of Twizzlers and there it was. Palm oil. No more Twizzlers for me!

    I guess there’s a balance to this project. I learn proactive things that I enjoy doing. I also learn things I need to stop doing. That part is harder. Good thing my husband bought me some organic oranges to get me through my first week of Twizzler deprivation. I think that was my last (mainstream) candy I would allow myself. Fruit and homemade vegan cookies are perfect replacements.

  7. terra Says:


    I didn’t post this on the main page, but I think it’s important to think about…

    People keep talking about the rising cost of corn because of increased demand due to ethanol production. Don’t believe it! That’s just an excuse. Corn products are in everything from Pepsi to yogurt to medicine. High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup. Ever heard of these things? They’re made of corn and they are everywhere!

    Are they forgetting these things? Corn syrup and HFCS was invented in the 1980’s (see: spike in diabetes) to replace sugar. You have to try really hard to find food at the grocery store that isn’t made with a corn product.

    So, quit telling me it’s all because of ethanol. Sure, that contributes to the problem. But so does feeding cows and pigs corn, which makes them unhealthy, so they pump them full of antibiotics and other hormones, and the cows and pigs emit more methane than is probably normal for them. It’s probably becoming more difficult to plant corn because they don’t rotate the crops, and the soil is losing nutrients, making the corn harder to grow.

    The other reason the cost of food is skyrocketing is because of the cost of diesel, combined with the way our food is made. First, they have to truck the pesticides to the farm, using diesel, to spray on the food. Then, they harvest the food with the diesel trucks and farm equipment. Then, they feed it to the cows, causing them digestive problems, so they give them antibiotics (also trucked to the farm because such huge quantities are needed). Then, the food is trucked to the distribution center. Then, it’s trucked to your local grocery store (which is probably a chain store). That’s a lot of fuel. Most of it is diesel, which is over $4.00 a gallon. That might cause the price of food to go up. If we had local farms, like we used to, our local farmer would make and package the food at his farm, and then drive it to your local grocery store. There are a lot fewer food-miles involved in local food.

Leave a Reply