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adbusters_everything-is-fine-keep-shopping

I think of my recent move from Vancouver to a smaller but — in my eyes — better condo in Port Moody as an upgrade. Space conscious people would not agree. The me of six years ago, determined to have a Vancouver address and extra bedroom, would not agree. But the move has been invigorating for a few reasons, including the dramatic purge required in the downsizing.

It was difficult intellectually, emotionally, physically. I had to consider my criteria for chucking, donating, or keeping. I had to part with sentimental items — after taking a picture — and then sometimes snatch them back from the donation pile when I realized I couldn’t give them up. And I had to cart carload after carload to recycling or Value Village.

The purge was also hugely liberating. Getting rid of stuff I hadn’t used or seen in years felt good. The physical weight of all this stuff turned into a feeling of lightness when it was gone. I am the sum of my experiences, not of my belongings.

So when my friend Lisa sent me a link to a woman who resolved to buy nothing after the death of her father and resulting disposal of his estate, we started talking about doing a no buy challenge of our own. Our motivations and situations are slightly different, so our personal rules for the challenge are slightly different. Here’s mine:

As of September 1, for 100 days I resolve not to accumulate more stuff or contribute to the accumulation of stuff in the world. If I absolutely need or want something I will buy it second hand.

Before you worry I’ll come over to borrow a cup of sugar … and flour … and eggs … and maybe steak and milk and fruit … daily … there are exceptions. Food, toiletries, other consumables, gifts and experiences are on my exception list.

I’m never going to be a true minimalist. No one who owns a Sodastream and an entire cupboard of tea can claim to be making that attempt. But the older I get the more dismayed I am at rampant materialism, and the more I value experience over things.

Given that perspective, and given that I don’t like shopping anyway, my initial naive thought was that this 100 days would be easy for me. But a day in, I think I’m going to be surprised by how much of a challenge this challenge is. I’m used to buying what I want, and quickly, painlessly. Now I vow to consider those wants very carefully and take the time to sift through second hand sites and stores if I intend to buy.

Or wait for 100 days. But I’m hoping the challenge will open my eyes to the possibility of living a lighter life without feeling a heavy sacrifice. Bring it on.