Buy Nothing Challenge Update #1

Are you wondering how our Buy Nothing Challenge went during the month of January? If you’re confused about what I’m talking about, my family has decided that for all of 2020 we would not buy any “stuff” unless they are essentials (examples: soap, food, etc.). Read more about it here.

So the first month of any challenge isn’t necessarily a good amount of time to really feel it. I came to this conclusion after my household participated in Plastic Free July in 2018. It isn’t enough time to feel the urgency and push you need to make the necessary changes that a challenge is supposed to create. So if you’re thinking of doing your own challenge, consider doing at least 2-3 months long.


Our biggest challenge my husband and I came across was the importance of detailed conversation with each other to establish our essentials list to determine what we buy and what we do not buy. When we decided to take this challenge on we did make a list of essentials that we could buy, we talked through it, were on the same page, but what about this? and what about that? There were a lot of grey areas that arose this month.

For example: eating out. Our budget allows for eating out once per month, and although food is an essential, eating out at a restaurant is not, so what do we do? I was viewing this challenge as a way to cut out the consumption of physical items (like toys & clothes) that are not essential to life and hygiene, but my husband was viewing it with a wider vision of any superfluous spending outside of the essentials of life. This we did not talk about in detail, but should have. So what did we decide? Jury is still out, so I’ll have to write about it at my check-in next month.

I think no matter how we structure it there will be grey areas in this kind of challenge, so we’ll have to address them as they come.

** UPDATE: Since writing this post we have cleared the grey areas and have a clearer idea of the “rules.” Check out my “Buy Nothing 2020” post for the update!


My favourite travel mug broke. It was a sad day because I couldn’t buy a new one. You see, I am a high maintenance coffee addict, and my favourite mug was the perfect size, easy to clean and such a perfect lid. Do I need to buy a new one? Nope. I have two other mugs I can use, and a bunch of mason jars (the most versatile item in any home I am coming to find), but I just don’t like them as much. It was/is a good practice in being content with what I have, rather than buying something simply because I wanted to. Although if I “loose” or “break” my other mugs, would that warrant buying a new one (wink, wink)?

I did buy something. Yes, it’s confession time. I bought a guided journal without thinking about our challenge, kind of like a reflex. I figured this may happen once or twice this year, I just didn’t think it would happen so quickly! So I’m thinking that cutting myself some slack is going to be needed.

My husband attended a board game weekend event where you have the opportunity to buy/sell your used games to the other attendees. This was his challenge for January as there were games being sold there that there he had researched about and wanted to buy, but he opted out. He opted out even though I had said I would be okay if he bought something because this was an event he was looking forward to for months (prior to our decision to do this challenge). He is a very disciplined saver overall, so really this whole challenge may be more for me, not him (haha).

There was a lot of clothing rips this month, including my favourite pair of pants and my son’s winter jacket. This has put the urgency on learning to mend, which is one of my #wastelessgoals. I have a sewing machine, I just need to learn how to use it!


Monthly my husband and I allocate $25 each for clothing, and $40 each for personal spending (i.e. spend at our discretion). I had more money in my wallet this month, which seems like an obvious thing, but it’s something I hadn’t really given thought. The $25 clothing money was definitely still sitting there instead of being spend at the thrift store. Now I am trying to think of items I can save up for this year, like good quality ethical clothing essentials (it is a bit more expensive – check out the store Encircled in Toronto as an example; I would love to shop here!). Although I am not opposed to thrift clothes (I LOVE thrifting…hence it eating up my money each month), but I end up replacing a lot of items quickly because they are not good quality.

One thing I am focusing on this year is making our bathroom more zero waste. This causes some stress for me because buying plastic-free & unpackaged bathroom items will cost us more. But with our Buy Nothing challenge I am now seeing that this will free up money in our budget to go towards this.


We are not doing this challenge due to anything financial, instead trying to reduce our waste through the accumulation of consumer goods. Our society’s consumption habits are an environmental issue, and one that I feel challenged to address at this homestead. Because of this I won’t be posting too much information about what we’ve saved each month or spent, but I am happy to answer any questions you may have regarding the financial side of it. Just write a comment below or submit a question through my Contact page.


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