As one part of the Year of Enough, I'm choosing to focus on mindful consumption. I am not throwing away all my stuff and becoming a minimalist - I like my stuff too much for that. I love stuff. So much. But I want to enjoy and appreciate the stuff that I have, rather than adding to my growing pile of possessions. It's a soothing, numbing thing for me, to shop. I love finding deals. I am the queen of bargains. I am an expert thrifter. Despite these mad shopping skills, the amount of stuff I buy? Well, it ultimately makes me feel bad, to be spending money that could be saved for something else, to think of the environmental impact that my, and everyone else's stuff has, to think of the people who have much, much less than I do. Aren't there more useful things I can do with my time than shop? Don't I aspire to more than to simply have stuff? Clothes are my joy, a way to self express. Books are my lifeline. I enjoy having a pretty home. But surely, I'm at the "enough" point now, with what I have? I've gone past "stuff that makes me happy," almost past "stuff that makes me feel kind of OK." Surely, I do not need to more stuff to my stuff to feel complete. And yet, it feels like a never-ending cycle. Buy stuff, feel good, then start to feel bad, buy more stuff, feel good, then start to feel bad, buy more stuff...I don't know when it stops. It's time to take away that crutch, which isn't serving me anyway, and do the emotional work that I need to do to self-soothe, and really be aware of what my consumption means, for me, and for the world I live in. To that end, it's time to introduce the rules of the Shopping Ban:
- Clothing Purchases: no clothes, accessories or shoes will be bought. The exceptions are athletic wear, tights and underwear which need (need being the operative word) to be replaced because they are worn out, have holes, or are too gross from overuse. Costume/performancewear needs will also be considered on a case-by-case basis. I have also lost quite a bit of weight over the past year and am down 2 clothing sizes. If I lose more sizes, I may need to buy more clothes, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. There will have to be rules set in that situation as well: consignment of perfectly good too-big items, for example, before I can purchase new,.
- Housewares and Books: no housewares, books or other decorator-y tchotckes. The exceptions are pieces of essential household equipment that have broken, cannot be repaired, and for which I have no suitable replacement. Example: my red teapot breaks - I still have 4 others in other colours - no need to replace the broken teapot. No books (I love the library anyway), and no magazines, with the exception of my all-time fave, Vanity Fair, because this isn't about self-denial, it's about mindfulness: when I asked myself what one magazine I would choose over all others, Vanity Fair won by a mile. I chose to subscribe for a year, which is approximately 1/2 the cost of buying each issue on the newsstand.
- Makeup and Toiletries: no makeup or toiletries except to replace finished items for which there is no suitable replacement. For instance, oops, I'm out of my favourite Kat Von D lipstick, Cathedral. But I do have a full tube of MAC Twig, which, well, they're close enough in colour. No need to re-up on Kat Von D until Twig is done. Same with my eleventy-seven different shades of red lipstick. WHO NEEDS ELEVENTY-SEVEN DIFFERENT SHADES OF RED, I ask you? Here are some of the reds I currently possess: NARS Cruella, MAC Red Rock, Besame Red, Besame Noir Red, Besame Red Velvet, Benefit Matthew Williamson Limited Edition Red Gloss, Kat Von D Vampira - those are the ones I can name OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD. Just for fun, here's some more. Purples? Got 'em. MAC Rebel, MAC Men Love Mystery. Pinks? Don't be silly: MAC Twig, MAC Girl About Town, Clinique All Heart, Smashbox Posy Pink...Whew. sorry about that lipstick tangent. I just really like makeup.
- Coffee: No solo designer coffee runs. Coffee with friends as part of a social outing, totally OK. But no more "I'll just pop by Starbucks on my way to work." I have a Nespresso, a Keurig, a Bialetti AND a French Press. And a really really cute Kate Spade travel mug. There is no earthly reason why I shouldn't manage to make coffee myself on my way out the door in the morning.
Acceptable Purchases: In addition to the exceptions listed above, there are some purchases which will be acceptable during the year.
- Nails: I get my nails done once a month. I like the way my fingers look with nails, which I can't grow myself (I like biting them too much), so acrylics it is.
- Hair: I will get my hair cut and coloured at regular intervals, but no crazy experimental colours which I have done to be uber trendy in the past - just enough to cover the greys which are infuriatingly showing up with more regularity
In case you were wondering, I am totally terrified that I am going to fail at this. That within a week I'll be surfing the online sales or planning a new spring wardrobe. That I'll make a sneaky trip to the mall to pick up just one thing. I am trying to prepare myself for this by avoiding temptation - I used the service unroll.me to unsubscribe from all the retailers' newsletters that hit my inbox every morning. I am contemplating unsubscribing from all the cool plus-size fashion bloggers I follow on Instagram and Twitter, but I am hoping I can use these folks for inspiration rather than seeing each post as a directive to Go Forth and Shop. We'll see how that goes.
I also have created an inventory of my stuff, to remind myself just how many options I actually have, from a clothing perspective, and reinforce the message that I do not need more. I used Google Spreadsheets, and created a tab for each category of clothing: Shoes, Tops, Bottoms, Dresses, Skirts - and within each tab items are broken down even more by sub-category: Pencil Skirts, Full Skirts, Long Dresses, Sweatshirts, etc. I also created a Pinterest Board of all the clothes I have from my favorite fashion site, Eloquii, where I buy 90% of my clothes. This is a nice visual reminder of everything that's in my closet, so if I'm stuck for inspiration I can just take a quick look at my board for an idea. I've also inventoried textiles and furniture on my Google Spreadsheet, and will be tackling makeup, books and housewares next. My insurers will love me!
So, those are the rules of the ban. And the ban is...for all of 2017. Bring on the inevitable tears, tantrums and frustrations. I'm excited and scared to see what happens next.