Last week marked two entire months for our family of not buying anything. The challenge still feels exciting and intentional. I notice how much the decision to not buy new things has reduced my decision fatigue, time spent shopping both in stores and online, and helped us feel grateful for the many wonderful things we already own. It has become more normal to only step into one store per week, for my groceries. And this week I realized how odd it feels to leave a store empty-handed.
I never had considered before how weird it feels to leave a store without buying anything. Maybe because it didn’t happen very often. More commonly, when I couldn’t find exactly what I went in looking for, I would simply find a few other things that I could use.
We all relate and laugh about how we went into a store (most often Target, right?) for one thing and came out with a cart-full. It is funny how many piles of things we can totally not need that we end up buying and taking home with us.
Those things become part of our stuff. Sometimes used and loved, and sometimes put into cupboards, drawers, or closets to collect dust and take up space. I definitely have impulse buys that fall into those categories.
Last week, I needed some label sticker paper to create packaging labels for a pop-up shop with Live Free Creative Co. I got to the first store that I was pretty sure would have some, walked straight back to the office aisle without stopping to browse the other sections. (The last two months of not buying have started to teach me to stop browsing. It saves time and I don’t mind not knowing what I’m missing.)
When the store didn’t have any sticker label paper available, I walked straight to the front and started out the door. I felt super weird leaving the store empty handed! I spotted some bananas and realized we were out of bananas. I almost turned around to buy some, and stopped myself. I didn’t need to buy something just because I was in a store!
It is silly to think that we should buy things we don’t need or weren’t planning on just because we are out shopping. However, I think we do so more often than not. Those passive purchases create sort of a backdoor flow of stuff into our lives, almost without being noticed or acknowledged. We unintentionally add to our collections and decorations, and boost our craft rooms and closets. In my case, most of those things that I didn’t really need or even know about before I got to the store, end up heading out with the donations a week or a month down the road.
I think we buy things for a lot of reasons. Not only because we need stuff, but also because we need entertainment, need to feel in control, need a hobby, and need inspiration. Through this challenge, I’ve been exploring some of those idea. I am excited to share more thoughts as time goes on. For this week, my take away lesson was that it is okay to leave the store empty-handed.
We will most likely never miss things that we weren’t looking for in the first place. Being clear about what it is we want, and then sticking to it can help keep the excess from our lives, physically and emotionally. Go ahead and leave the store empty-handed and happy. Because as Tom Robbins said, “Any half-awake materialist well knows – that which you hold holds you.”
For more updates on our More Than Enough Stuff challenge, click here.