October Is “Buy Nothing New” Month

Thumbnail borrowed from BuyNothingNew.com

First launched in Australia in 2011, the October “Buy Nothing New” challenge has been slowly spreading globally ever since. This pledge to shop used, borrow and swap for 31 straight days has resounded with people in all walks of life who want to take a good look at their spending habits and the environmental impact of their own consumerism.

Image borrowed from  Weekend Notes

Image borrowed from Weekend Notes

Now, before you envision yourself dumpster diving for lunch when your pantry goes bare around October 12 and high-tailing it to the gas station on the corner because you’re rationing the TP, hear me out. Things like food, hygiene products, and medications aren’t part of the pledge. What IS part of the pledge, are the sorts of things that most of us buy without giving it much of a second thought: clothing, accessories, electronics, gadgets, housewares, etc.

There are many reasons to Buy Nothing New this October. Most of us don’t ask ourselves “do I really need this?” before making a purchase. Nor do we consider whether we could get an item cheaper (and usually of higher quality, ironically) if we bought it second-hand. We probably never pause and wonder if we even need to purchase it in the first place, when it probably could be borrowed from a friend or neighbour. This is the point of Buy Nothing New month; to start really considering the necessity of the things that we buy. It’s beneficial to our own bank accounts, and also to our environment.

Image borrowed from  I Am NOT An Urban Hippie

Image borrowed from I Am NOT An Urban Hippie

Can you do it? Can you take a month-long break from online shopping and trips to the mall? Can you limit your Saturday morning Stavanger Drive routine to grocery items only? Of course, you can. Consider it an opportunity to explore the multitude of thrift shops in the St. John’s area. Everyone is familiar with Value Village and the Salvation Army, but have you been to the Epilepsy Association’s Previously Loved Clothes and Things? How about the SPCA thrift stores on Topsail Road and Elizabeth Avenue, or Take Two on Ropewalk Lane? Choices for Youth have recently opened a used clothing store called Neighbourhood on Torbay Road, with great deals on brand name clothing. By spending your hard-earned coin in these stores you’re not only keeping good clothes out of Robin Hood Bay, but you’re also helping out a charity as well. It’s absolutely win-win.

Another great place to find second-hand item is the online classifieds. Kijiji, Nlclassifieds and the NL Buy & Sell have thousands of used items, literally everything from a needle to an anchor. The Facebook Marketplace is worth a look as well, not only for the deals but for the hilarious and often completely inappropriate comments on some of the posts. I’ve made it a habit of always checking these ads first before I buy basically anything other than underwear (even the most hardcore of bargain hunters has to draw the line somewhere) and it’s saved me hundreds, perhaps even thousands of dollars.  

Maybe you have some sort of reno project planned for October and anticipate purchasing some tools. Before that trip to Canadian Tire, drop into the Tool Library on Empire Avenue. A small membership fee gives you access to over one thousand tools and also a multitude of kitchen appliances, even a full homebrew kit!

Speaking of libraries, Buy Nothing New month is a great time to dust off your library card. Newfoundland Public Libraries not only lend books but eBooks, DVD’s, CD’s, even board games. You might even find that an afternoon of Trivia Pursuit or Cranium with your friends is more fun than time spent at the mall or big-box store.

“But so-and-so’s birthday/anniversary/wedding/christening is in October and I have to buy a gift!” How about a basket of local produce, baked goods, and jam from the Farmer’s Market? Or a piece of jewelry found at an antique shop? Or a bottle of homemade wine? Or an upcycled piece of old furniture? Use your imagination!

So ditch the excuses, take up the challenge and encourage your friends and family to jump on the bandwagon too. If you need some inspiration, search #buynothingnew on Instagram, it’s sure to make you feel a bit foolish and maybe also a little guilty for spending so much money on new stuff.