A few days ago I committed myself not to buy anything new in 2014 and to share the money saved with people who normally cannot afford new things (or just things). This initiative has been started by Sash, the writer of Inked in Colour, and I decided to make it part and parcel of my Caring 2014 project. I promised that I would give more details on how I intend to go about it. Sash has recently explained some of her rules so I am now in a good position to explain what this project will mean for my family.
I have spent the last few days thinking about this idea, pondering its possibilities and limitations and primarily who should be affected by this initiative. Should I involve my husband, should I consider things for my child as well, should I only focus on my purchasing habits? I decided now that I will not buy anything new for myself and my son and for the house, with one exception: my husband is half-way through fixing our kitchen at the moment and we have already ordered and purchased items for this purpose and thus I am excluding him and his DIY projects from my resolution. So when I say that I will not buy new things for the house I mean: decorations, blankets, pillows, candles, frames, calendars, flower pots, pictures, bits and pieces that I normally indulge in. Food, medicine, health and safety and hygiene items will not be affected by this challenge as it would be unreasonable to go without them.
So how will this project affect my purchasing habits? I am not going to buy any: books, cosmetics, clothes, CDs, shoes, jewellery, electronic equipment, stationery, films, notebooks… and my biggest pleasures in life.. cups of coffee in coffee shops and sweets… for once I want someone else to have the privilege of affording a cappuccino and a muffin every so often. I will also not buy any toys, gadgets, room accessories for my son and will try to use the clothes and shoes that he has already got (growth permitting). We’ll see if we have enough for this year.
I was asked if nothing new means that I can buy second-hand? My aim is not to buy anything. I do think that it’s wonderful to give a second life to a product. I see lots of good in buying used items, renovating them, restoring their original function and beauty or even improving their look. But I do have some doubts about buying second-hand goods and will share them with you in a separate post. In its original form this initiative allows for buying from second-hand shops. I intend to reuse, re-purpose, mend, sew and clean things that I have to make them last throughout this year and hopefully beyond it. I suspect that in doing so I will stop perceiving chores as unpleasant and burdensome routines but rather as much needed daily acts of care. So in many ways I see this project as transformative not only of my purchasing habits but also of my home and character.
How will I measure what I have saved? How will I know how much to donate? I am well aware of some of my purchasing habits and this awareness helps. For example, I would normally buy a cup of coffee and a sweet every time I meet a friend in town and when I travel away from home… so now every time when these happen, I will put the money that I would spend on those treats into the giving pot. For my other things, I will need to review my past purchases and planned purchases for this year to examine how much my indulgences are worth. I must trust that what I previously spent on luxuries would have been typical. I’ll decide in due course which charity, family or individuals I will donate to and will present rationale for my choice at some later stage.
So what can you expect from Postcards this year? Stories of success and potential failures, stories of people who care, debates on buying or not buying, reflections on different ways of caring for our families, relationships, health and the environment. Sometimes it will be an article with text, other times just pure photo(journalism). I am not setting any limitations on myself how often I will post. It won’t be daily, it might be weekly or biweekly… when the ideas mature.
All in all, I’ve got an impression that things will become much more manageable in 2014. I hope it will be like this for you too.
What are your thoughts about this initiative? Do you want to try?