Adventure 9: Buy Nothing

Last Friday, as you ALL know, was Black Friday — the high holy day of commercialism — followed closely by its up-and-coming little sisters, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year . . . to buy stuff. Or at least that’s what we’re told.

I, for one, don’t buy it.

Maybe it’s because I grew up without a lot of fancy presents. When I was young, my mom was so determined to keep us from being consumed by the rampant consumerism all around us that she opted out of a lot of heavy holiday spending. As a young person, I received (and enjoyed, and remembered) all of the following wrapped in pretty paper under the Christmas tree:

  • Stockings
  • Thrift store clothes
  • Herbal Essences shampoo and conditioner (we usually only got Alberto VO5, so it was a major treat)

Although at the time I did occasionally wonder if I was being gypped, I now honor my mother mightily for trying so hard to create Merry Christmases for us that weren’t defined or measured by what was under the tree. Thanks, Mom.

The advocacy group Adbusters organizes an annual Buy Nothing Day every year on Black Friday to protest the general shopping madness. I usually observe this anti-festive event unofficially and without even trying. I guess I just prefer to sit home and eat leftover pumpkin pie than to venture out into the melee of crowded parking lots and crazy people.

This year, however, I’m taking Buy Nothing Day one step further. Last evening, after I filled up my car with gas one last time and brought in the groceries I’d picked up on my lunch break, our family officially began Adventure 9: Buy Nothing for a Week. (Full disclosure: we’re only planning to go for six days, until next Sunday, but I think that will be long enough for us to get the full flavor of the adventure.)

Ma Ingalls (of Little House fame) didn’t go shopping every day. In the early books of the series, in fact, she made it to the store once or twice a year, if she was lucky.

Yet it’s not at all unusual for me to run out (or send Ken out) for a few things once or twice a day. How did I get here?

I have plenty of cupboards for storing a week’s worth of supplies, and I know that shopping less regularly would save me a whole lot of unnecessary impulse buying. (How often do I go to fetch a gallon of milk or a package of diapers and come back with my trunk full of grocery bags?) I also know that I’m generally more wasteful of the things I buy than I might otherwise be if I wasn’t so sure I could easily replace them with a five minute drive and a quick swipe of the debit card.

This week’s adventure, then, is designed to interrupt my deep-seated consumer habit, and already, less than a day in, it is proving interesting in a couple of ways.

  • Milk. We go through at least three gallons of milk every week, but we only have room in the fridge for two. Let the rationing begin! (So, too, let the scolding of small children who do not drink every last drop of their precious milk commence!)
  • Leftovers. I noticed that we were much quicker about getting them packed up and into the fridge last night than we usually are, and I observed, too, that I was very careful to put away the sandwich supplies immediately after making lunches today. Both leftovers and lunchmeat suddenly seem more precious to us, and we find ourselves much more eager to prevent them spoiling before we are able to consume them.

It’s weird how one small change (deciding not to buy anything for a few days) can send ripples through our entire philosophy of kitchen management. I’m very curious to see what other differences it will make in our lives.

I’m also curious to see what we’ll run out of first (after milk). Anyone want to place bets?

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4 thoughts on “Adventure 9: Buy Nothing

    • Hmmm . . . I think repeating select portions of the comments above, particularly the “Queen of Leftovers” and the “yes, she sure is!” bits seems appropriate right now. In any event, thanks for the tip. Love you, Mother!

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