Nothing New, New Year: an experiment in restraint


Earlier this week I had an appointment that required me to bring in some completed forms. No problem. Except there was a problem; my printer was low on ink.

Gone before his time

This poor little fella had plenty of good years left him but I guess the ink cartridge gods had other plans for him. Rest in Peace.

Fast-forward to the office supply store where I learned that the cartridges I needed are no longer available.

“Huh? Are you sure?” I asked the sales attendant.
“Yes, ma’am. We haven’t had those in stock for over a year,” he replied.
“Surely you can order some?”
“Sorry, m’am” he said, turning the computer screen to show me that the company had indeed discontinued production of that model.

Besides being frustrated, this got me thinking: I know planned obsolescence (designing a product specifically to have a limited life which forces the consumer to buy a new one) is just a given in things like mobile phones and computers but it never even crossed my mind that printers would fall into that category. It makes sense of course, but I just hadn’t considered it.

And so, like the rest of the tenants in our apartment complex, it will get left in the rubbish room, laying next to all the cathode ray tube televisions …and microwaves… and heaters… and fans….and cd-players. (Ok, I lie. I wait for the council’s bi-annual e-waste cleanup but you get the point.)

What an enormous waste! Someone could furnish their apartment with all the things that are left in that room. And that’s just over the course of one weekend.

Anyway, that’s how it all started. That was my “a-ha” moment.

The evidence was there all along

In hindsight, there really were a myriad of moments that lead to this pseudo epiphany. Like how it amazes me that my mother still has the Tupperware she was given at her bridal shower – that says as much about Tupperware as it does about my mother’s super-power: the ability to keep the lids!

She also has her original vacuum, blender and flour sifter; even a few strands of the lights that went on my parents’ first Christmas tree. I guess I’m impressed by that alone, but also troubled by the fact that should the vacuum suck up an old Star Wars action figure, the cost to extract the Stormtrooper would exceed the cost of replacement. Heck, go to any K-mart and you’ll be able to pick up an iron for less that the cost of a ham sandwich. Granted, it comes with that rank “made in china” chemical smell and will probably stop working within a year, but oh well, you can always buy a new one.

Because one can never have enough tong, right? Really?

Because one can never have enough tongs, right? Really?

And of course, while you’re there, why not get those cute purple storage containers that you’ve (not) been meaning to buy. And the purple tongs.

So, with that in mind, let the experiment begin.

Nothing New, New Year

I’m not doing this on any moral high-ground. I’m not doing this to save money (though I do think it’ll force me to evaluate my spendings). I’m not doing this to make a statement. I’m just doing this out of curiosity and hopefully learn some stuff along the way. This does not mean that I can’t go shopping; just that whatever I buy has to be pre-owned – with obvious exclusions.

Starting today, I am going to keep track of all the “new” things I buy (or want to buy). The next two weeks (December 15 – 31) will be my benchmark; they’ll help me to create the rules of engagement.

Thus far though, I have this loose outline and some objectives:

  • Create categories based on what I (we) need and what I (we) want and so on.
  • Create a list of things that I already know I’ll only buy new (for hygiene reasons). Things like underwear, make-up and such.
  • Keep note of things that are used but actually cost more than just buying something new. (Just because I’m curious.)
  • If I do purchase a new item that is not on the exempt list, I’ll match that cost and donate it to charity.
  • Create a list of resources  – not just op shops. I don’t know what they’ll be yet but I’m going to learn that along the way.
  • Learn how to sew. However, I still need to buy a sewing machine and will need to find resources for fabrics and such.
  • Try to understand why I (we) feel the need to buy new things – or just buy things in general.

That’s it thus far. I’m sure there’ll be more by the end of the day.






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