A rookie mistake.

BP and I made a rookie mistake last week. I call this a rookie mistake because it’s the kind of decision we would have made thoughtlessly in our pre-BNN life. And here we are, 19 months later, making the same sorts of mistakes. Unlearning life-long habits is hard.

My laptop isn’t functioning all that well and really needs to be kept in one steady place. In addition to this my back doesn’t thank me for using my laptop as it’s intended (on my lap). We decided to get a small desk for our living area so that I could remain a part of the gang while using my computer.

BP recalled, with sentimentality, how much he’d loved his childhood desk The Fearse Family: A Rookie Mistake– an 80s style map top desk (chunky and brown). He asked around and found that it was located at his sister’s house. She kindly offered to have it fixed and delivered it herself.

We have had it less than a week and it has served its function as a table for my laptop quite well, but it has also quickly become a new surface to add clutter to. We knew this was going to happen. Everything we have learned about removing clutter from our home tells us that we need less surfaces and less storage, not more. Everyone who has lived in a house knows that it is going to take less than a month for those drawers to be loaded up with stuff.

Although we had already discussed the need for a dining table in the front room, sentimentality clouded our vision and we brought in this desk that is all wrong. During the winter months we only heat the front half of our house. The back half has few blinds and curtains and most of the heat would be lost. The only time we use that end of the house is for eating dinner. We could easily have solved this issue and the desk issue with a small, compact dining table in place of the big, chunky desk.  If we had a dining table here it would still be a surface, but at least it would be one that we had to clear every night to eat.

I’m disappointed in our thought processes which basically showed no growth from our impulsive decision making prior to our first buy nothing year.

Of course now we have a fierce Fearsian stand-off. BP is sentimental and wants to hold on to the desk and I am a cold-hearted clutter clearer and want to move it on (or at least out of the house) to make room for something more practical to our purposes.

When you make significant changes to the way you lead your life, you owe it to yourself not to relax on those ideals. We have worked too hard to claw our way forward to now allow ourselves to slip backwards into old habits that don’t suit our purposes.

This week, to help us remember how far we have come, BP and I used ingenuity to repair a squashed, shattered and near destroyed washing basket. When I bought this basket, several years ago, I bought the cheapest one I could find. Everything about it was nasty. It didn’t take long for it to start deteriorating. Recently someone sat on it, or stepped on it, or was pushing someone else around in it as though it was a car and it collapsed into itself. Since we’re working on reducing our waste, and there was no way this was recyclable plastic, we knew that we had no choice but to find a way to repair it, or reuse it. I made the decision to buy the shittiest, cheapest basket I could find and I’m now responsibleWashing basket
for where that ends up. So, how do you repair a shattered plastic washing basket? Start by connecting all the broken bits back together with a few handy pipe cleaners, then insert a hardy backdrop (in this case some cardboard that came as the packaging for one of Little Fearse’s birthday gifts) and go to town with gaffa tape. Ta da! I reckon it will last us another decade, don’t you?

The daily decisions we make about our consumption and about the things we bring into our home need constant examination. This way of life is not yet ingrained in us, which is not helped by the fact that it is far from the norm in society. I see that there is a shift and change happening around us and I hope that things will change in this lifetime. All I can control are the choices that I make and hope that I can mostly make good ones.

Mama xo

Believe in what you buy.

Buy something new. I don’t mind. It’s not my choice, it doesn’t impact on my decisions. That’s the great thing about our BNN project – we buy nothing new. It’s pretty cut and dry, it doesn’t have too many grey areas, we can live by that. It doesn’t mean we feel judgemental towards anyone else for their consuming decision making. What it does mean is that we get to show others that buying nothing new is possible, and it also might give people an opportunity to think about their consumption habits in a conscious way. I think, mostly, the buy / sell process is automatic for most people now. We never really thought about it before our first year began. We had started to buy fair trade coffee and avoid products with palm oil. We were becoming more aware of where our food came from. We knew a little about the unethical production of Nikes. We avoided Nestle. If it was a well-publicised boycott, we knew about it. Otherwise, we were a bit mindless when it came to our spending. We also didn’t realise that there were alternatives to consuming.

The thing about becoming a conscious consumer is that it doesn’t mean you have to stop consuming.  For us it means buying second hand or not at all. For others it may mean buying fair trade, or from stores that provide something back to communities who need it (think Oxfam shops). For some people it may mean buying locally, or supporting small business. For some people it is about buying Australian (or American or Mexican or wherever you happen to be based) made. For some it is about avoiding purchases that may inadvertently support labour camps or that encourage criminally low wages and the exploitation of children. Some may splurge on high quality household goods, knowing they will (probably) never have to replace them. Some will buy branded clothing that can then be passed on at a fraction of the price to people like us who buy nothing new.

The point I’m making, is that buying nothing new is one way. It’s our way, and we like it. We will probably do it forever.

Either way, I think it’s important that we think about what we’re buying, whether we need it and where is has come from. Don’t just be a cog in the wheel of someone else’s design. Make your own wheel, or become a part of something you believe in. Contribute your hard earned dollars to something that matters.

Well, that’s my 2 cents. It’s about all I have spare…

Mama xoxo

News from the phone bedazzling stall.

For those wondering, I have not been captured by militant consumers and chained to a phone bedazzling stall inside a cavernous shopping centre, nor has Mama Fearse hobbled me just enough for me to be able to change nappies and ignite the barbeque yet not type. I have been, in all honesty, lazy and unconcerned with writing as of late. Hopefully this post will change the tide of words to the more succinct and entertaining.

Our first buy nothing new year has had an enormous effect on me. I no longer desire sneakers, at all. I said starting 2014 I was going to purchase a new pair to replace the couple of tired pairs that I have been wearing since the late 90s. As the clock struck ’14 though, I realised these old pairs had served me so well thus far and besides being a little worn out on the insides they still serve their purpose. I really like the idea of having a pair of new kicks to strut about the court in, but I don’t need them.

Also late last year I broke the screen on my laptop. I looked into having it repaired and found it would be cheaper to replace the computer outright. I had the money to replace it, but never did. 2014 rolled around and as I type this from said broken laptop attached via HDMI to our TV, I have decided to purchase a used monitor** and connect the laptop to it essentially turning this laptop into a desktop. It showed me that really thinking through and examining all options and avenues will often lead to a more sensible emotional and financial decision. I have got used to using my laptop in this unorthodox manner and truthfully having it at school with me was more of a distraction than a convenience so I think this will work out best for me and having the computer stuck in one place will also mean I won’t be spending as much time in front of it and more time will be spent chasing Lil Fearse around the house.

So there are my newest revelations readers, I will be sure to check in with you all more often from now on.

BPF

** Post writing but prior posting I managed to acquire an old monitor from Freecycle that, with the addition of an HDMI adaptor, should do the trick.

A break from Buying Nothing New

Since January 1st The Fearse Family has been on a break from Buying Nothing New. It was very liberating to not be bound by the rules of our BNN year. We knew we’d need a breather if we intended to go on with Buying Nothing New in 2014. There were things we’d been holding off purchasing and it was very important to give ourselves the opportunity to purchase these things before we begin again.

In the past 9 days we have purchased the following new things:

  • gloss paint to finish our wardrobe doors.
  • a gigantic pile of nothing.

What do we need? Well, I’m out of tinted moisturiser, and when I can find a brand I am happy with ethically I will purchase this. I’m not a big make up wearer, but there are times this year I have missed it (it ran out half way through the year). We have no other plans to buy anything new.

So – what are our parameters for 2014? We will continue with the same exceptions and rules, though we will also add anything needed for repairs. We usually came up against problems when needing to fix things around the house and repair broken things with different types of glues. This exception will help us to maintain what we have and seems logical to our main aim – to look after and use up what we have.

For the time being I will continue with the book embargo and I will not buy any clothing at all. I received a handmade skirt from a friend for Christmas and a voucher for a dress hand made using vintage material from my brother and his fiance. These are two incredibly beautiful items of clothing and so much more special for my not buying any new clothes throughout most of 2013. These two decisions (books and clothes) will be reviewed throughout the year.

In the event that we are unable to find something that satisfies our needs second hand we will buy from either local businesses or small businesses. This will allow us to support those that we believe are offering a good and ethical service.

We are also on a quest to reduce our trash, so this will involve some new purchases, such as reusable sanitary products. This is something we will blog about in more detail later this month.

We’re excited! Who is going to join us? Please leave a link below if you discover any other blogs for those that are buying nothing new in 2014. We’d love to offer our support. We are looking forward to following the journey of Inked in Colour, who has recently made the pledge.

Much 2014 love,

Mama Fearse

The end is nigh.

You couldn’t even call this the home stretch – we’re sliding into the home plate. We have TWO BNN days left. Just two!

Deep breaths. Gulps.

Many people have asked us about our plans for next year. BP and I have had dozens of conversations about this very topic. We have some firm ideas about what we want to do, but some of the details are hazy. We’re not ready to officially announce anything yet, but what is certain is that I will be continuing the blog into the new year.

We are looking at continuing to Buy Nothing New in 2014 with some tweaks. We may need a breather for a few weeks, though with our previously negotiated gift card clause we may just be able to get the things we are currently seeking with the gift cards we received for Christmas.

I am very nervous about the year ending. I don’t for one minute believe that we will go on a crazy spending spree, but I am concerned that some consumeristic tendencies will creep back in if we allow ourselves to buy new things. It is hard to know how much of our will power has been spurred on by the fact that you (our readers) hold us accountable, that our rules prevent us from buying new things. Without these rules, what will become of us?

I’ve read Lord of the Flies. I’ve even seen both films.

lord of the flies

All I’m saying is, I don’t want to have to crush BP to death with a giant rock…over an unnecessary purchase. Or, you know, for any reason.

Mama xo

December takes the “non” out of non-consumer.

It’s a funny time of year, leading up to Christmas, for those of us who celebrate it. Everyone is talking about ‘getting their shopping done’ and there is general discussion of what gifts people have bought for whom. Advertising is at its very worst (or most insistent or whatever adjective you prefer). This,coupled with that warm fuzzy feeling Christmas can bring (I’ve had plenty of years when it didn’t, but now that Little Fearse is around the warm fuzzy feeling is back) it can really bring out the consumer in a non-consumer.

I have had my heart set on buying Little Fearse some African animals for Christmas for imaginative play. She is starting to get very interested in pretend play with her dolls, cars and soft toys. She likes dressing up and pretending to be different animals.I wasn’t expecting this kind of play from her for a little while longer, but the teacher in me desperately wants to foster this. She has been really enjoying our zoo trips and seems particularly fascinated by animals like the ostrich, meerkats, lions and giraffes.

I don’t want to buy her junky toys. Like most toddlers, she plays hard with her toys. They get tossed, crushed, chomped, folded, tugged. I want to buy her toys that can withstand that kind of play. I also don’t want to get her cartoony looking animals, I’d love them to be realistic. I think that animals like these are super cute, but I’d rather the animals Little Fearse plays with look like the animals she sees at the zoo.

I’ve found a brand I love – realistic looking, durable animals. There are various used lots available on Gumtree and eBay, most in great condition (testament again to how long lasting these animals are). The problem is, these toys are also collectable. They regularly retire a run of animals, making them highly sought after. I have found myself getting into outrageous bidding wars, ones where I have bid all my Paypal reserves plus some and still been outbid. Bulk lots of these gorgeous figurines go for hundreds of dollars. This is well outside my Little Fearse Christmas budget. This does not feel like a simple Christmas.

One of the worst consumer traps is the increasing strength of desire the harder it is to obtain something. Designers don’t put $3000 price tags on their clothes because they are worth that much money. They put $3000 price tags on their clothes so they are unobtainable, and therefore desirable. The same goes for buying second hand goods. Earlier this year I got into a frenzy over trying to buy a Little Squirt nappy hose to attach to my toilet. I was so obsessed I bid on 5 or 6 auctions on eBay and was outbid every time. They went for close to the  price of a new one. I ended up buying a very second hand (it was oooold) one on Gumtree. I paid way too much for it and when it arrived discovered it was so perished and leaky that it was no use to me. The desire to have a Little Squirt nappy hose instantly faded.

I have managed to find some smaller lots, two meerkats and two lions for Little Fearse. It isn’t exactly the zoo I imagined. I hope that my efforts haven’t been fruitless, but boy am I glad I lost those $100 auctions.

We are almost at the end of our BNN year now, and it seems to me that those ugly consumer habits may still be just below the surface, waiting for the perfect opportunity to take over my rational thoughts. It is going to take a lot longer than a year to undo 30 odd years of buying habits.

I hope you have  had a more rational start to the holiday season.

Mama xo

Buy Nothing New Month

We have snoozed a little on this, which is almost unforgivable. October is Buy Nothing New Month and although it is already the 5th day of the month, you can still pledge here. The website offers tips, tricks and encouragement to those who choose to play along. Of course you can pledge to buy nothing new any time at all – you don’t need others to set a time or date. The best thing about doing it in October is that you can share in the support offered by others who are doing it then, too. Or we’ll give you support any time!

Those of you who have been reading along with The Fearse’s for awhile will understand that buying nothing new doesn’t mean buying nothing at all. It means adding the thrill of the chase, the hunt for treasure to your purchases. You can buy almost ANYTHING second hand. In the process you might have time to think about your own consuming habits and what they mean for your life and your home and your environment. Or you might just find some kickass second hand goods to add one-of-a-kind personality to your home or wardrobe. Or maybe you’ll find yourself with a little extra cash at the end of the month so you can go out to dinner with your friends, or pay off a debt, or put away some savings. Either way, I can’t see how you’d regret it. Give it a go. I dare you.

Please, if you do decide to pledge, keep us up-to-date on your progress either in comments here or on Facebook.

Mama xox