It was early December when we decided to try the Buy Nothing challenge, so that gave us a few weeks for last minute cheating, I mean buying, before the challenge began on Jan. 1st.
Here’s the list of what I thought I needed to buy:
- Clothes: I bought socks and underwear, as well as a couple pair of pants for work.
- Shoes: I didn’t have any shoes that didn’t have holes in them, so I bought a pair of hiking books ($10 used) and a pair of tennis shoes ($55 new).
- Paper: As a writer, I couldn’t imagine being without paper, and my understanding is that making good writing paper is really hard. I bought lined paper for writing, a ream of paper for the printer, and small notepads because we both love making lists.
- Cordless Vacuum Cleaner: Ours recently died. Our only carpeted room is our kitchen (not our choice), so I use one of those small, battery operated sweepers that are sold to people for quick clean-ups. I’m much more likely to take it out than one of those loud, corded monstrosities. I could, of course, just use a broom, which is what I did for a while, but it is much more time consuming. I think I only swept once, when it got really, really bad. To continue with the broom, I would need to modify my standards of cleanliness, which is not necessarily a bad thing. The invention of the vacuum didn’t save time for housewives. It just increased our standards so that now we think the floor should be spotless all the time, and we actually sweep more. I compromise by using a faster, easier vacuum and lowering my standards a bit about the corners of the room.
- Headlamp: I bought one of those battery operated lights that you wear on a strap around your head. I think they are made for bike riders? I have been experimenting with using one instead of turning on lights in the house, as a way to save electricity. I had bought a cheap $4 one, and found that it worked really well to light my morning chores, but it was so cheap that if you bumped it, it turned off. I found a better one at a sporting goods store for $35 (they had them ranging from $25 to over $100). Of course, I should have bought one for Bear, because it’s not helpful if I’m using a head lamp and he turns on the ceiling light.
- Book Light: I also buy these to try and save electricity. We read a lot at the dinner table, so I bought a kind that sits up by itself and lights both the book and the meal. It also creates a good ambiance when reading in front of the wood stove. I talked Bear into getting one too.
- Solar Camp Shower: This is a black plastic bag that holds 5 gallons of water, which is heated by hanging it the sunshine. Last summer I bought one from a garage sale to see if I could save resources by using one in our house. It fell apart on the first try- I’m hoping it was just old. This Winter, I want to try to heat the water by hanging the bag up near the woodstove.
- Tea Strainers: I bought some tea nets/ tea strainers from Mountain Rose Herbs. The ones I bought from them years ago had finally fallen apart and I had been meaning to get some more for a long time. They are a cotton bag hanging from a wire ring that hangs nicely inside a mason jar without falling in and are great for straining herbal infusions. I probably could have made them myself if I took the time.
- Lamp Shades: The ones we had were barely hanging on the lamps and had big tears in them. I bought three used for $1.70 each that work and look great.
- Maple Syrup Making Supplies: I tried to buy some syrup making supplies. Last year we tapped our walnut trees for syrup. We used some plastic buckets to catch the sap, which worked except that they attracted bugs (who drowned in the sweet syrup), and we couldn’t leave them outside during the rain (so missed that day’s worth of sap). So I tried to buy some sap buckets with lids that are specifically made for collecting maple syrup. I find a website that sold used ones (the new ones were too expensive), but the website couldn’t seem to complete my order after repeated tries, so I gave up. My next plan is to see if we can make our own lids.
- Rechargeable Batteries: Last summer I bought a solar charger for batteries, as part of my scheme to lower our electrical usage, but it’s so far sat unused since I haven’t ordered batteries. Bear also wanted me to get batteries for his Wii remote (on which he watches Netflix). I haven’t yet figured out where to buy the long lasting batteries from, though, so didn’t get around to it. Rechargeable batteries from the well-known name brands that you can get in the regular stores don’t hold their charge very well (e.g., the book light I use on my van pool which I ride to work everyday needs recharging once a week vs. when I use non-rechargeable batteries, they last for months). I did add this to our list of exceptions so I could buy them online later when I had time.
I have a couple observations about this list:
- It was nice to know there was an end to it. I’m tired of having to run into town when we need stuff (it’s 30 minutes away since we won’t shop at the nearby super WalMart due to their business practices). I’ve been trying to limit my trips into town with better planning, but often, after I’ve driven into town, they are out of what I need so I have to return another day, or worse, I take it home and it’s defective, so I have to drive all the way back to return it. I knew that this time, if I got everything on my list (and it worked), my in-town shopping trips would be over for a long time.
- As I look at this list, it seems really long. Did I really need all this stuff? I’m looking forward to a year of finding out what I really need. I’m imaging that I would like to be like the pioneers- going to town for supplies only once or twice a year. Time is precious- why spend it shopping?
Bear’s self explanatory list:
- work pants & work boot insoles
Also, Bear and Theresa went for one last shopping spree at the used book stores, and they ate at some restaurants for the last time while they were in town.