Babette Porcelijn made a top 10 of the most polluting activities in her book The Hidden Impact. The number one thing is buying new stuff, it is the activity with the biggest negative impact. To reduce my negative impact and thrive towards an eco-positive lifestyle I try to buy no more new stuff. Even though buying nothing new for a year is something I haven’t achieved yet, I do try to minimize the new purchases as much as I can. Here’s everything I bought new in 2019.
Buying nothing new
Reducing my new purchases was easy, very easy. The thrift shop is my walhalla and I can find a lot of other things I need secondhand online. But buying nothing new, that’s a challenge. In this post you can see how I did last year, it was my first year trying and it was awful. This year I intended to spend waaaay less. I did not include secondhand stuff I bought here, since the impact is caused by the person who buys the item new. I also did not include consumables, like shampoo or make-up. Maybe I will include that next year, but I do not see that as stuff. I’ll explain what I bought, why I bought it and whether I regret it or not.
- A book, May 2019. In May it’s my mom’s birthday and so I bought her a book she really wanted. I normally try to gift experiences but I knew she really wanted this book so I bought it. Since I made the choice to buy it I include it in this list and do not regret my purchase. The book cost me 17 euros.
- A pencil, May 2019. In May I had to do an English test at the Free University to get in. That day I forgot my pencil and so I bought one, I do not regret this 0,50 euros purchase.
- USB-sticks, June 2019. These were mandatory for handing in my thesis and so I had no choice and I do not regret it. They cost me 20 euros.
- Make up brush, July 2019. This is something I could not find secondhand. I have really thought this purchase through and so do not regret it. I have used this make-up brush a lot already and it is a sustainable product. It cost me 8 euros.
- Spiralli, September 2019. I asked this item for my birthday since I could not find it secondhand anywhere. It’s something with which you can make vegetables into spaghetti (like courgette). I have not used it so far since I don’t cook myself but I’ll have to check when I live by myself whether I will really use it. It cost 16 euros.
- An ov-chipcard, November 2019. This card is something you need for using public transportation in The Netherlands. The old one broke unfortunately and so I had to buy one while I waited for the new one and a new one, which together cost me 20 euros.
- A new pair of tights, December 2019. In December 2018 I bought sustainable tights at Swedish Stockings. They were a little thick and so I wanted a lighter one for the holidays in 2019. I got them for ‘Sinterklaas’ (A Dutch celebration where you buy each other gifts) but they ripped around the toe area after wearing them once. I do regret this purchase since it broke so fast, from now on I’ll stick with thick tights. I believe they were 18 euros.
- Party Plugs, December 2019. On a weekend out in Harderwijk, I forgot my party ear plugs in my boyfriend’s wallet. When I went out in Amsterdam without him a few days later I had no ear plugs. Since I am really concerned about my hearing, I refuse to go out without them. So, I bought a new pair for 12,95 euros. I do not regret this purchase but I do regret forgetting my ear plugs at my boyfriend.
- Firework, December 2019. This year I am celebrating New Year’s Eve with friends in Groningen. I do not like firework since you literally blow up your money, create a lot of waste and nuisance, a lot of people get hurt and all the animals are scared. But, everyone in the group wanted to get a little bit of firework and so I bought some for us. I had to attend since you cannot say ‘I won’t pay and won’t watch’. I found this a hard one, because I don’t really know if I should consider this stuff or consumables. It was 4 euros for me personally.
- Solar panels, all year 2019. I invest in solar panels, you can read why in this post. I think it’s very important and do not regret any of these purchases, we need clean energy for the future. However, it is in my list of new things I bought. I am doubting whether I will still include this in the list next year, since I find it only a positive thing and it’s an investment and not a stuff purchase per se. However, this year I chose to include it. I invested a total of 200 euros in 2019.
- Birthday cards, all year 2019. I still choose to buy sustainable birthday cards sometimes and I never regret this. I do also try to reuse the ones that are gifted to me but that does not always work out. I spend about 20 euros this year on birthday and greeting cards.
Ways to improve
11 new things I bought in 2019, for a total of 336,45 euros. 1.364,55 euros less than last year, so that’s a huge improvement. If I don’t include the solar panels, I only bought for 136,45 euros. Next year I won’t include those since it is an investment and does not really count for my personal stuff. Besides, the solar panels are a very positive thing. Next year I will try to advocate for not buying firework, since that is not something I want. I will also not buy thin tights anymore since they broke so fast. Further, I will try to gift only experiences. That will get me down to a very low number if not 0. In 2020 my goal is to buy nothing new at all. Let’s see how it goes next year, but for now I am very happy with my progress.
Do you struggle with buying nothing new?