Sunday, April 6, 2008

Buy Nothing Challenge - Sunday Confessions

As Crunchy would say, "Forgive me, people, for I have spent." It has been 6 days since I signed on for the Buy Nothing Challenge and it's been interesting so far to track what's been most difficult. For about six months, I have been trying to curb our expenditures for a host of reasons so I thought this exercise wouldn't be very different. But it is! It's curious how you can delude yourself. I mean, I thought I was being pretty restrained. But faced with an absolute (Buy Nothing!), I'm getting to see the pattern of my consumption.

I kept track of both things I wanted to buy and didn't and things I went ahead and bought. Some stuff I bought because I decided it was worthy and some stuff I was just careless or weak.

Stuff I wanted to buy and didn't (thanks, Crunchy)!

  • A new pair of earbuds for my Shuffle because I really, really love to listen to music while I exercise -- I feel like I get a double endorphin whammy. This one was silly because I knew I had the missing pieces at home (think small child stuffing chewy portion of earbud into his mouth and shrieking in outrage when said item was removed from his mouth - I hid the chokable object a little too well and couldn't find it in the 15-second scramble to get my gym stuff together). Anyways, a mere 6 days ago I would have walked right into the hardware store that's next to the gym and tried to snag another pair. I forced my sulking self not to and you know what? Not only did the earbuds stay in place (for the most part) just through the sheer force of earwax, but 3 days later, I found the missing piece! And, as a friend pointed out, you know we probably have at least one extra pair stashed in our house somewhere. Maybe the non-consumption will also spur organization.
  • More sunflower seeds because I gave a bunch away to little friends of ours. Ditto for peat pots to start the sunflowers in. No worries; we have more seeds left than I thought, and we can make newspaper pots to start our seeds.
  • Another copy of the (used) book Calder's Circus by Maira Kalman (recommended by Lori from Camp Creek -- thanks so much for the rec!). I gave away ours (before even letting my husband see it! I think he'll last the month, though). You have to check it out, I love the great photos of Calder himself and his curious wire creations and the text itself is pretty magical, worthy even of Susan' Preston's wit). But this can totally wait and is so optional. Except of course my mother is already tracking one down for me which smacks of cheating! Really, I told her I could wait!
Mea Culpa:
  • Believe it or not, my sins have predominantly and oddly revolved around coffee. Yet I am a sporadic decaf drinker! Kind of a surprise weakness this past week. I hate the effect caffeine has on me but in my defense I was sleep deprives and had endured, in the past two weeks: 3 trips to the DMV, 2 hour-plus chats with Verizon customer service, 4 trips to the pediatrician and 1 to the Social Security Administration (at which I was given an assigned number, a two hour wait, and a quizzical "I don't think you can get that done here" even though I'd spent many an hour on the phone discussing my desires...) Sent me scurrying around the corner to an Illy coffeeshop. Sigh. As I took the first (admittedly delicious) sip I remembered! Aaaigh! And that was on Day ONE. A mere ten minutes after I'd been daydreaming about how on earth I'm going to pull off my soon-to-be five year old's birthday with no expenditures.
  • 2nd coffee expenditure: just this morning, I bought another coffee (long night last night) and a travel thermos/tumbler. I didn't want to use a disposable cup and we don't have a travel mug that's not made of suspect plastic. This one was really cool, made of metal (plastic top, but not inside the stainless steel like lots I've seen. And it has a cool drinkable cap. Still, it was a $20 acquisition. And could I really just skip the caffeine already since I don't like how it affects me?
  • I bought eight nuts and bolts from the hardware store to assemble my composter. I'm not too worried about that one. ;)
  • I had to pay the plumber to fix a pipe that inexplicably developed a pea-sized hole under the kid's sink. Obvious need.
  • The other sins are of the eating-out variety. A friend came in town from Vermont and we went out to a fancy dinner with him (not sorry!) and we went out for bagel sandwiches this morning. Also, I got a pre-made quiche one night for dinner at Whole Foods that was not only egregiously expensive but also egregiously plastic-encased. Almost a clamshell dinner.

Victory of the Week? Getting hand-me-down shin guards for the five year old's first soccer game. I totally didn't think I would pull this off since I didn't realize until the day before that I needed them. But my neighbors rock! A friend with whom I trade kidstuff even scolded me for looking around on the local listserv without checking in with her first!

So, all in all, good lessons:
  • I clearly spend more than I admit to myself on a routine basis.
  • My first impulse is to buy something (ie earbuds) even if I know I have that thing already if my convenience is affected. Time to develop patience and forbearance.
  • Food, drink, and gifting are areas I can examine to see if I can accomplish what I want (nourishing, healthy food; tiny caffeine boosts; and communicating love to friends and family) with less consumption/waste.


katydidnot said...

the coffee thing would be quite a challenge for me. i'm not brave enough yet.

Tech Savvy Mama said...

I completely failed...Purchased new stereo system as husband's b'day present and a new broom since the kiddos have hijacked the old onel. But I'm plucking instead of waxing my eyebrows and did get a free double jogger courtesy of local Freecycle. I know. TMI! Hope others are far more successful than me!

Mrs. G. said...

I happen to have an extra pair of earbuds in my nightstand if you want them. I'm serious. Just let me know. They came with my ipod, but I'm a headphones kind of girl-yes small ipod, large kids' have all ready pointed out the not coolness of it all.

Gray Matters said...

I had a pretty good week - I think I have to chalk it up to having a newborn and not leaving the house. We did eat out once - also a result of having a newborn!

Alfie said...

See how you are -- I (innocently enough) read your posting on 'buy nothing week' and less than 5 minutes later, I find myself on Amazon, buying a copy of the Calder book for a big fan (and one to be) in our home.

At least it was used...

Hugs and kisses to the kids -- big and small!

MamaBird said...

katydidnot: you don't *need* to give up coffee! that's my own freakdom. you might just need to brew your own - or bring your own cup!

techsavvymama: you rock! birthdays and domestic chore detritus do not count, in my book. you get high marks in my book for avoiding the spa AND for frequenting my beloved freecycle.

mrs. G! you are once again the kindest Fairy BlogMother I could possibly hope for. thanks but I am all set, I found my lost bud.

Gray Matters: you are a heroic new mother! i hope you are nesting well with your sweet new baby. there's an argument to be made that eating out (as long as you avoid unnecessary packaging - bring the tupperware) is actually more eco friendly (economy of scale).

Alfie! I love that book. I cannot say I am sorry you are getting it. And this is pretty much the CRUX of my weakness. Oh, dear, I just know I am going to sin again.... xo to all at the hot springs...

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Since I'm totally not in the place to try this right now I will live vicariously through you!

Lori said...

ok, one more time - yay!!, glad you loved the book! :^D)