I’ve always thought I was a bit rubbish at sticking to New Year’s Resolutions, until someone pointed out to me that I managed to keep a HUGE resolution when we spent our year Buying Nothing New. Just because I didn’t make it at New Year, I kind of forgot about it.
I did a quick spot of Googling, and stumbled across an article that claimed that most people will have given up their New Year’s Resolutions by the 10th January! So I thought that maybe this was an opportune time to share with you how I managed to sustain a year long challenge.
Know your ‘why’
I think this is one of the most important things.
I knew very strongly the reasons ‘why’ we were Buying Nothing New. I became very aware of the impact of our throwaway society, and the fact that we are all consuming as if we live on a planet of infinite resources. Buying Nothing New was my way of tackling these huge issues as just one seemingly insignificant person.
Whenever I was tempted to buy something new, I thought about the resources that had gone into that item, where it had come from, who had made it, and then decided whether I wanted it enough to not be concerned about all of those things.
Set yourself some boundaries!
We set ourselves the challenge of Buy Nothing New, but within that we had some ‘rules’. We thought about what things would be deal breakers for us, and adapted the rules to suit us and our circumstances. We said we could buy food (obvs); toiletries and medicines (although I did end up making my own deodorant); and underwear (although both hubby and I went the whole year without buying any, we just ‘made do’ with what we already had). We also decided that it was important to use that we knew that the kid’s shoes fitted properly, so we agreed we could buy them new shoes. And after our practice month, we also wrote in the provision for buying new parts to fix anything that had broken if we couldn’t source secondhand parts.
It’s one of the things I really love about Buying Nothing New challenges-it can be totally adapted to each individual/family and their circumstances.
Make it achievable and be flexible
Whilst you want something to be a challenge, it also needs to be achievable to avoid falling at the first hurdle.
For My Make Do and Mend Year, we did a practice month first, so that I could get some idea of the types of things we might need to be buying. The car windscreen got a huge chip in it, and it flagged up me the fact that we would need to have some provision for using new parts to fix things that had broken-I am not sure we could have sourced secondhand windscreen very easily!
And that’s where the flexibility comes in too-if you start off full of enthusiasm, and then your circumstances change, or you encounter a problem you hadn’t forseen, it doesn’t mean you have to ditch the whole thing. If making a small change to your ‘rules’ means that you can carry on, then do it!
Don’t make it all about deprivation
I was really adamant from the start that our Make Do and Mend Year was not going to be about austerity and deprivation. It was not going to be a ‘bleak’ year without joy and lovely things.
Think of the positives, keep focussed on the things you ARE achieving, rather than the things you are missing out on.
And think of alternative ways to get the same effect as the thing you are missing out on.
I am not a huge shopper, or buyer of clothes, but I did really enjoy exploring the local charity shops, and mooching around the local car boot on a Sunday morning. And I could buy whatever I wanted, I just had to find it secondhand. I wasn’t saying I couldn’t have it, I was just saying I had to find it a different way!
When we were ‘doing’ our year, I found it much easier to just avoid the shops where I knew I would be tempted. We didn’t venture into nearby Bath or Salisbury very often, and if we did I just marched straight past Fat Face and White Stuff, eyes fixed firmly to the front! If I had to go inWHSmiths to use the Post Office, I didn’t go down the magazine aisle. I didn’t window shop, I didn’t browse online. And I found it far easier.
Tell people what you are doing. Tell your family and friends, announce it on Facebook, staple a post it to your forehead.
Or create a blog like I did. It’s a fabulous way to make yourself accountable, to track your progress, and to build up your own little team of cheerleaders who will support you, and pick you up when you fall (even if it’s only your mum and your Nan who read it). And who knows where it could lead..!
If you have declared your intentions to the world, it is much more difficult to give up on them, without feeling slightly shamefaced.
Take Baby Steps, and take one day at a time
When I talked about Sustainable Resolutions last week, I talked about the fact that for me, zero waste seems unachievable. So whilst it’s good to have goal, and to aim high, for me to say I’m going Zero Waste from 1st Jan would be setting myself up for failure. I might be able to say, I will be zero waste by the end of 2016 (or 2017..!) and then decide how I was going to break that down into small steps that I could achieve one by one on my journey towards that goal. That I might be able to do.
If you slip up, pick yourself up and carry on
We had a ‘fail’ during our Make Do and Mend Year, and I guess I could have thrown in the towel at that point. I tend to be very ‘all or nothing’ in my thinking, and in the past, I have given up on things at the first slip.
It’s an accomplishment in itself if you can get over the blip and keep going, not be put off and use it as an excuse to give up.
How are you doing with your resolutions?
If you’re attempting No New Clothes (whether it’s no clothes new to you, or no clothes at all), the No New Clothes for a Year Facebook group is a fabulous place if you want some support and encouragement!
Or if you’re going for a Buy Nothing New Year, do let me know what posts and resources you would find useful, and I’ll do my very best to help out 🙂