People often ask me how I can live without shopping. Both friends and family seem aghast at times that this is what I have chosen to do for this 12 months. To not contribute to the machine. To test myself. But… How? Is often the question that is asked. I’ve done countless interviews on the project over the past month, I just spoke about it over and over and over again in different forums (which is why I haven’t been on here for a while – I had to take a break – I have had absolutely nothing more to say)… There have been two questions that I have been asked time and time again.
1. How do you do it? and 2. How much have you saved?
I’m going to answer these questions right here in a way that perhaps wasn’t diplomatic enough to say in other forums.
Firstly, the Nothing New Project is really very, very simple. The art of living without shopping is really not difficult to achieve. We just don’t go to the shops. We aren’t deprived, we aren’t martyring ourselves, we aren’t suffering. We just don’t go to the shops. It’s not hard, it’s liberating. It’s not sad for Bo, it’s teaching her that the shit you can buy on the overstocked shelves of department store is not a ‘need’ but a ‘want.’
This is something that I think we are losing at a rapid rate in our fast paced, consumer driven, credit-culture. Logical thought and resourcefulness. The ability to understand a throw rug, a designer dress, new home wares, flashy toys – are wants. Not needs. The things we need are simple. Safety, food, water, warmth. These things most Australians have every single day without giving them any extra thought, these are things we take for granted. We are rapidly losing the skills necessary to make do with what we have, to be grateful for what we have, to mend and repair what we have – and we are slipping deeper and deeper into a disposable culture.
How do we do it? Everything we do is focussed on real human connections with other people.
With these connections come a lot of genuine joy. We spend time foraging, we spend time sharing meals… we borrow and we lend. This alone is a transformative experience as it is becoming so foreign. The art of living without shopping is really very simple. We have everything we need. We don’t go to the shops. We connect with other human beings instead. Simple.
Secondly, the amount of money that we have saved is the LEAST important part of the project.
This project is not about money… but our world is money obsessed. If I could impart ONE thing onto people who are so concerned about the money side of the project, is not the actual figures but instead the freedom. At the beginning of this project I was living week to week – struggling to save anything, we couldn’t ever afford to eat out, I never got us a snack from a café, I couldn’t afford to buy organic produce, I had to check my bank account regularly and stagger bills during the month. Now I don’t. We have the ability to save to and those savings protect us and liberate us for the future.
I rarely check my bank account. Not because I make lots of money, but because I know there will always be enough. Enough for a coffee. Enough for a muffin for Bo. Enough to invest in locally produced organic produce.
There is always enough.
Why? Because we don’t spend money on shit we don’t need. So our money gets invested in the things that really matter instead. Local community. Good food. Good times.
At the end of the day, when I’m old and tired and dying (and I hope I make it until I’m very old – and maybe not TOO tired) I’ll look back on the people I spent my time with, on the friends I made, on the amazing community projects I helped to build, on the hours I spent with my beautiful daughter and I wont remember how my house was furnished or the kind of clothes that I wore or the version of smartphone I carried around in my hip pocket.
I hope I’ll have a real live human being there with me, holding my hand. Another person who loves me. What have we got if we haven’t got each other?
Everything else… it’s just stuff. x