It is now the 8th day of my ‘year without spending’ and I’m still having a lot of fun. Granted so far I’ve been able to dodge shops & shopping in general (it is, believe it or not easy to spend a week without going into town), but I feel that not shopping is actually far more fulfilling than going out and spending a fortune on new stuff.
One of my big worries for this year was running out of shoes. Seeing as though I’m a 25 year old guy, and I tend not to wear the type of shoes that can be easily repaied (I wear skate shoes as they are tough as old boots, but still look modern and young), so keeping my feet in shoes for the year was going to be a real headache. Repairing old shoes is out of the question, and sourcing cast offs from family and friends would be almost impossible as nobody I know is a size 10.
To quash this fear I decided to search the house for old pairs of trainers and similar footwear, and I’m ebarrased to say the problem is solved. I found no fewer than 6 extra pairs of trainers I’ve been hanging onto in various states of distress, from scuffed uppers to slightly worn soles. I reckon from the 6 pairs alone I could easily get a years worth of wear.
Amongst the footwear found was a brand new pair of Chuck Taylor Converse boots, an almost new pair of Walking boots, a few pairs of Osiris and DC’s and a really old pair of Osiris (too badly battered to wear or pass on so they have been trashed).
Now finding all these shoes has come as quite a relief, I really want to keep this year a spending free year, and shoes are kind of a necessity so I was dreading trying to source new footwear. Whilst I’m glad that I was able to source so many pairs of alternative footwear by simply scouring the cupboards, I also feel quite embarrassed.
Now before everyone jumps on the hate wagon for my excess, I need to point out that this cache of shoes has been building up for many years. I, like most consumers, buy shoes when they are on sale, or when my old ones show the first signs of aging (or are too tatty to be socially acceptable!). This is the cornerstone of consumerism, by making it socially unacceptable to have worn out clothes, and older mobile phones, and slower computers, the corporations are able to pedal the same crap to us over and over again. The shoes are a prime example.
Take the Chuck Taylor boots. I bought these in New York years ago. They where very cheap and I’d wanted a pair in a size 10 for a long time. This was before they where a major fashion statement in the UK. I’d tried to get a pair in Manchester, London, Liverpool & Leeds without success. I got back to the UK and realised that I couldn’t wear them with my baggy jeans as the denim dragged on the ground, and since then they have been cast aside in a dark corner of the wardrobe. What a pathetic excuse!
So I now have a pile of shoes for 2009. I’ve cleaned up most of them to the extent they could be worn out to parties or nights out, and I bet I can get at least 2009 out of my current selection, if not right through to the end of 2010.
The lesson learned from this little escapade is that we all have a lot of stuff which is replaced, often without any reason. We all have a habit of clinging onto stuff that has been replaced because the original item was too good to throw away. How about we use the original item until it is no longer functional before ringing in a replacement? Or if we must replace an existing item which is still perfectly fine, we find a new owner for the old item instead of hoarding it away!
This project has taught me a hell of a lot so far, and I hope to learn more as I go on. I have received a lot of positive feedback from readers of this blog about my project, but have also come in for a lot of criticism. People saying things like ‘How can you do a project like this when you sell a product yourself?’.
Incase you didn’t know, My wife Vicki & I have a small craft business selling hand made badges. We make a modest living from doing this, which in no way matches what we earned when living and working in Manchester. Granted we sell a product, which in itself relies on Consuming, however, we sell a small hand made product in very small quantities which keeps a roof over our heads and food on our plates. We have NO hobbies which require money (with the exception of our internet connection) and we live a very simple life. Our business is very low key with only ourselves to support, and as such is no different than say basket weaving or knitting. We carefully produce our own products by hand and sell them on the internet. We have a very low impact, don’t commute to work, and are not employed by one of the many huge corporations which are taking over the planet.
Another criticism faced so far is why am I doing this whole year without spending thing. Is it because I want to take the moral high ground? Is it that I want to preach to those nasty consumers about the error of their ways? – The fact of the matter is, when I started this project the only thing that motivated me was saving money and stopping the frivolous spending. I didn’t mean to influence anybody nor did I mean to make consumerism out to be the bad guy. Our economy is based on Consumerism, and if we where all to stop spending it would be catastrophic for the economy. This experiment is a personal thing and is a way of testing myself to see if I can go without spending for a year.
The fact that so many people have emailed me to say I have inspired them to look at what they spend and cut back is brilliant. If I can inspire even one person to try this, and feel the personal benefits of such an experiment that would be excellent. Also if people want to read the blog without carrying out the experiment or implementing anything I say that is also great, remember this is an experiment I am carrying out and one in which you are all welcome to join in or choose not to be a part of.
Right I think that is enough of a rant for today. I just had to get it of my chest as for every 10 nice emails and comments I get, I always get one sarcastic, malicious or pessimistic email.
If you are joining in, in a small way or in full, please feel free to leave comments on these entries.