Monday, September 22, 2008

Update on the No-Buying Pledge: Month Nine

This post is dedicated to the first (non-family member) fan and supporter of Better World Betty, my dear friend Eva out in Colorado. She is a continual inspiration to me. We had our phone date today and she wants an update on the no-buying pledge. So, here goes.

I left you on June 6 - a post describing my minor infractions (around six in number), the last one being couple of beach goodies. Aye, there's the rub. I have two kids with gear needs! So far we've managed to utilize last season's baseball pants, my mom's free body-for-life bag (for his baseball equipment), and gently used toys and books for bday gifts (ah the birthday parties).

Here are August and September's divergences:

#7: I didn't buy everything on the back-to-school list (four dozen pencils!! no way), but did need some new items that we considered essential: two new outfits, new tennis shoes, new art supplies (we shopped the best Michael's alternative: Studio Art and Craft House), and a couple of required folders.

#8: Orange baseball socks and a protective cup for being catcher (dad's didn't exactly work). Plastic does have its place. :-)

#9: This month my prison pen-pal requested new clothes she could wear for a job interview (huge step) and they will allow me to send her some! I went to one of the local discount shops and bought her two versatile outfits and a sweater for the winter. Difficult not to go hog wild here, knowing the rough road she continues travel. I trust these clothes and the love and compassion accompanying them will serve her well.

So Eva wants to join me in this pledge. She asked if I've started a no-new-buying club. (cool idea) She also offered to design a sticker I can put on my car after the year is up. I told her to start designing it (she's an amazing artist). "This is so huge!" She is so sweet. "You need some way to proudly display you accomplished this at the end of the year."

So what are the guidelines? They started out hard and fast: Nothing new for a whole year. Just the essentials - food and shelter needs. The only minor tweak I discovered once our dishwasher stopped working was that it was important to allow for tweaks in the green direction. This fall we will be purchasing a new energy-efficient, water saver clothes washer. Surely an eco-smart thing to do in lieu of our old one that keeps tearing our clothes and likely uses too much (cold only) water.

It's so interesting because at first I would be at a shopping place and see something in a window and go ooohh, I "need" that. (kind of like what used to happen when I got all those catalogs in the mail) And then I would think "aahh - the no buying pledge strikes!"

But now I don't even notice. It's quite liberating. It only comes up when someone says, "Oh just go to Target and buy another one," which is quite common notion in our culture. Just go buy another one.

And when I feel the retail therapy urge, I might head into one of my favorite consignment shops and buy a new top. Everyone likes to have something new every once in a while. Balance and perspective is so important from a personal sustainability standpoint.

The other tool I have utilized since the pledge has been giving the gift of services - instead of giving my pregnant friend new baby gear she doesn't need (this is her third), I'm giving her a triple deluxe interior/exterior car wash (commercial car washes use 50% less water than home washes).

I do have one purchase I am really struggling with: a new ipod. My beloved husband ran over my ipod accidentally when we were unloading the car from a vacation and I inadvertently left a tote in the driveway ("I thought you got it" - "I thought you did!") It's worked since June, but died two weeks ago. I ask Betty, how am I supposed to cook and do dishes without music? That's essential, right? I wonder how much recycled content they are putting in Ipods these days anyway. (That's another rule: recycled and gently used items are fair game). Hmmmm. What's a Betty to do?

Eva asked about Christmas. That should be interesting. Stay tuned...


p.s. One thing I would do if I were starting new with the pledge is to track the money saved. All those times I thought - ooh I want this. And walked away. I used to be a sucker for the colorful little notepads in the grocery store or cutesy stickers. (I found an eco-jot 100% post consumer recycled cutesy notepad at Studio Art a few weeks ago and I'm using that)

1 comment:

Jennifer (Jen on the Edge) said...

I've thought about taking the no buying pledge, but can't right now. We're building a new house, which means a lot of purchases -- lumber, windows, a roof, appliances, etc.

Beyond that, however, I'm trying to keep things simple. No Jen, you don't need throw pillows from Target. No Jen, you don't need another pair of Danskos. That sort of thing.