Why the "Buy Nothing for a Year" Challenge Isn't Worth the Hype
A new challenge has been buzzing in the conscious consumer community, and I can’t say I’m totally on board with it. You’ve probably heard about it. It’s the “buy nothing for a year” challenge (in regard to clothing, specifically.) In theory, it sounds great. Touted with the ability to create #zerowaste, this challenge has some serious claims. And to be fair, even better benefits—if successfully accomplished.
Here are the benefits: it’s guaranteed that you won’t make spur-of-the-moment choices that you may later regret, you’re reducing exorbitant amounts of waste from tags and packaging and shipment, you’re choosing contentment with what you have, and you’re saving money to boot. Sounds great! However, a large majority of conscious consumer “icons”, if you will, have revealed that they did their major 2019 shopping *during 2018*.
The buzzkill about this challenge is this: it’s not a challenge for sustainability at all. Making a list of your upcoming needs is great. I even wrote about it in a blog about sustainable resolutions last month. But making all those purchases at once to avoid any purchases for a full calendar year? I don’t see the sustainable sensibility in all that.
We explored a few of the benefits, but here are three major reasons this challenge is not the most sustainable option.
This challenge requires resources that many of us do not have. Unless you’ve been training for this challenge for more than six months, to plan ahead for a full year’s needs would require a large budget . . . large enough to afford purchasing items that often need replacing after a year of regular wear, like undergarments or your most worn pair of shoes.
This challenge surrounds the idea of purchasing anything at all for basic need’s sake with negativity. News flash: there’s nothing wrong with purchasing something out of need. Technically, there’s nothing wrong with buying something out of want, either—as long as we are not consumed by our wants, of course.
To hurry up and purchase everything on your list lowers your ability to buy these items second-hand. The longer you wait to buy an item online, the more likely you are to find a look-alike at a thrift shop or the exact item on sites like Poshmark or Noihsaf. Sustainably speaking, buying second-hand is always best for the environment. When you buy new, the waste piles up quick. So this challenge can’t really claim #zerowaste, can it?
Realistically, most of us have an internal list in our heads filled with items we need. Why? Because after a season or two of full-wear, the soles of our shoes wear thin and the heels become wobbly, our favorite jeans get holes in places that no one wants holes, and our most-worn tops are marked forever by one major “oops!” Even after seeing the benefits of this challenge, I’m led to believe that making a list of your needs and slowly attaining them is a much more sustainable option than buying everything you need at once and realistically more attainable than avoiding purchases for an extended period of time. Next up on the blog, my wardrobe shopping list for 2019 and the brands I’m looking to purchase them from.
Are you taking the challenge? Why or why not? What are some other up or down sides you see to this challenge? I wanna hear your thoughts! Comment below, babes.