Crunchy Chicken can always be counted upon to lay out a great challenge.
I just signed up for Buy Nothing Month. This is the kind of challenge I've been thinking of doing since I heard about Buy Nothing Day and then read the fabulous book by Judith Levine, Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping. A day seemed too short--but a year seemed to long. But here in the Buy Nothing month, as the clever Miss Crunchy says, we have sort of a "sub-Compact".
I've been spending a lot of time lately thinking about the amount of advertising that surrounds us. On my recent flight to a conference and book signing, I put my shoes through security in a plastic tub with an advertisement in the bottom. After we took off, I lowered my tray table to find yet another advertisement. Neither of these places are particularly heinous places for advertisements--not like ads on a school bus or something-- but it certainly does add to my feeling that I am constantly under siege by the corporate world.
This challenge is just a little way of fighting back, of resisting.
* * *
On the other hand:
I spent a little time Sunday at a yarn party in my neighborhood. There were about a dozen local completely independent vendors there, selling hand-spun yarn, hand-dyed fiber, hand-sewn knitting bags, and self-designed patterns. I don't want to stop buying things that support the makers. The yarn party is the fiber world's equivalent of the farmers market. THIS is the way I want commerce to be.
But sometimes, we need a little kick to get us to reset our priorities and help us see things from a different view. So I've signed up for this month--a month, I might add, which is conveniently situated smack dab between the yarn party and Maryland Sheep and Wool.
* * *
Buying nothing means:
* No new clothes
* No new gadgets
* No new furniture or housewares
* No salon services
* No makeup
* No tools
* No whatever the hell else people buy
There are exemptions for edibles, supplies for vegetable gardens, household necessities (like toilet paper for visitors), necessary fuel, and anything else we need for our survival. And if participants must absolutely acquire something else, we must try to borrow, barter, or buy it used. Preplanned (or emergency) home repair is also exempt, as is anything already ordered.
April is the month of the both my son's birthday and my own. I've already ordered special presents (ones that are sort of relevant, in their own ways), so I think this first barrier will be easy enough to get past.
April is also the month of Passover--and therefore my in-laws will be visiting for a week. The visit might be a harder challenge than the birthdays, since shopping is something my in-laws enjoy and therefore we do more when they are visiting than we do otherwise.
Of course, you can always set any caveats in advance that make one of Crunchy Chicken's challenges more appropriate for you. In this case, mine is that at the yarn party, I told one of my favorite fiber pushers that I wanted to order a particular color and would contact her soon. So that, I think, is my exception.
And Crunchy Chicken does give an option for the weak among us: "If you end up buying something new that is non-essential, I'll be hosting a weekly Sunday Confessional for you to justify your purchase. So, just think about having to confess to the world what you couldn't hold off on buying."
* * *
Of course, I am not signing up my partner or son for this adventure. Perhaps they'll join me--but perhaps not. Son has his cat-sitting money burning a hole in his pocket--but even if he spends it, it is likely to be at the charity-supporting thrift store.
But I'm here to recruit all you readers to join me in whatever way feels right to you. Let me know what you think!