Taking stock halfway into my year of no shopping

Tehillah Niselow.
Tehillah Niselow.

I am not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions so while scrolling through my timeline towards the end of December, I found many of the earnest promises humorous until  I saw an a New York Times article proclaiming “My Year of No Shopping”.

Intrigued, I clicked on the link and read about the author, Ann Patchett’s decision to live for an entire year mostly on items that could be bought from her grocery store.

There was something enticing about the idea and I saw an opportunity for a fresh start in this, having noticed for some time that my mountain of “stuff” was growing.

At this point, it is important to consider there are several privileges I have had that allow me to make a decision to stop shopping. Millions of South Africans cannot make that choice due to an economically and racially unjust system.

Back to my News Year’s resolution, I decided to take a nibble instead of a chunk and gave myself six months of not buying any new clothes, bags or shoes.

'I came to dislike malls'

Me, the retail therapy junkie who used shopping as a way of de-stressing over the weekend, visiting markets and malls, always hoping to find something new and interesting.

I did one final pre-no shop at the Zara sale in December and prepared to sternly discipline myself into sticking to my commitment.

Going through my cupboard, I realised how many items I had that were virtually the same - dresses perhaps with different pocket designs, bags that carried the same function, in a slightly different style.

During the first few weeks of my New Year’s resolution, I stopped going to the shops very often or when in a moment of weakness I’d buy something, I'll return it a day later. I soon came to dislike malls, I just saw a vast array of things I didn’t need and loud advertisements trying to entice me to buy more. I decided to extend my six months of no shopping to a year, with a few exceptions for necessity items.

The ‘Fast Fashion’ industry has been written about extensively, the idea that cheaply made clothes can be worn for a few weeks, break or wear out and then tossed out, for new items, in a different style.

Thrift shopping

I have a few pieces of clothing from charity shops that are more than twenty five years old and maintained in perfect condition. There’s something comforting about reusing someone else’s belongings, recognising that the world’s resources are finite and the earth is running out of space to store rubbish.

I still go to markets over the weekend, but instead of trying to spot the perfect pair of shoes which I used to be convinced would change my life, I wander around and settle for a cappuccino.

And all the money I saved, from not shopping, I put that in a balanced fund with inflation + 5% interest.

Perhaps with the interest I’ve earned, I’ll buy a new dress when my year of no shopping is over… or not.

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