Posted by: alethacs | October 19, 2008

Buy Absolutely Nothing Retail Year

As the year winds down and we begin to put our garden to sleep and prepare the soil for next years’ plantings, our thoughts have turned inward as to how we may prepare our family for another year of growing and learning peacefully.

We are troubled so much by the economic woes of our friends and nation, especially the predatory lending practices that prey on the poor and the focus of so many on obtaining and consuming rather than creating and sharing. We all want things and want to improve our lives and it is so easy to get caught up in wanting to buy this improvement and wanting the latest, best thing for our children and ourselves. I know I have. After some reflection, and after watching the film Maxed Out (which we checked out for free from the library and which is also available for free from the group Americans for Fairness in Lending:, we have set ourselves a challenge beginning next year. Starting January 1, 2009, we will begin living our Buy Absolutely Nothing Retail Year. What does this mean? It means we will make a good faith effort to buy no new items for our family of four for the entire year.

Are we crazy? Most definitely. We are exuberantly, ferociously, extravagantly crazy and wish our children and our own souls to flourish in a place where Less really is MORE and life isn’t about shopping and spending but sharing and nurturing. How can we possibly go a year without buying anything retail? Two primary ways: 1)reusing what we have and buying used only what we absolutely need and 2)making or creating what we think we need. Of course, there will have to be some exceptions. Our vehicles are gasoline powered, so we will need to buy fuel. But we will make a commitment to do things closer to home and limit trips. We will need food, and what we cannot grow, we will need to buy. But we can make a commitment to only buying building block items–like flour, eggs, and cheese and make the rest. We do have a little one in diapers, but we use cloth. Our children will need clothes as they grow, but we can buy resale or even swap items on sites like ReUseIt (formerly Freecycle). The idea is to consume less in all facets of our lives and to say goodbye to consumerism, greed, and covetousness. We are going “off grid” as our own little protest against the constant need for change, for busy-ness, for new. We will be still.

Will it matter? Maybe not to everyone else, but hopefully we will be teaching our children the importance of value–not of things but of ourselves and our relationships. As an added benefit, we will be saying goodbye to the use of credit cards and fortunately, while credit card debt has never been an issue for us, we feel unwilling to continue to support an industry that brutally takes without giving back. Check back monthly for updates on how we’re doing as we continue to brainstorm in preparation for our Buy Absolutely Nothing Retail Year. And join us!


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