Maybe it's not accurate to say "no-buy" really, because I am still buying things, but I've tried to minimize it as much as possible.
We live in a society and times are hard. I'm sure I don't need to tell you
this, dear reader. So while I'm sure it would suffice to just tell you all that I buy as little as possible, I feel like it's worth going into the reasons I have, because they are varied and maybe (hopefully?) not entirely typical.
Top reasons for low-buy:
I am...well, frugal
I should admit that I am not in a bad financial position. I've been pretty fortunate and I'm in a good place at this point in my life, but a big part of why I'm in that position is because I've always been true to my internet name. I buy used whenever possible, avoid debt, and try to live within my means. There's a huge push in the U.S., mostly driven by advertising, which is everywhere these days, to upgrade whenever possible, and buy as much as your budget can afford (which is always just a liiiiiitle bit more than you're going to be comfortable spending). American homes are larger by average than homes anywhere else in the world,
and I've watched a lot of people buy themselves into ruin because their eyes were bigger than their budgets. I really, really
try to avoid this in my own life not only so that I can be more comfortable, but because I resent being inconvenienced by conventions and trends that are only meant to line someone else's pockets.
So I try to use what I have before rushing out to buy things in every situation - after all, "Reduce, reuse, recycle" starts with reduce
, and I think people often forget that. If I can't use what I have, I usually just put off buying replacements for as long as possible. I've found most of the things I end up doing this with are less necessary than I used to think they were. Once you put some time in between the feelings of want that crop up day to day, you'll find that your definition of "things I really need" shrinks dramatically. Wishlists are great for this, by the way, and besides the ones I have in online shops that everyone uses I also have one in my bullet journal. Periodically I'll go back and review them, and I usually always find at least one thing that I don't really even want anymore that can be removed. On the upside, this also means that the things I actually do end up buying are more appreciated and enjoyed, both because I really did need/want them, and because I had to wait before they arrived.
Trying to lessen my dependence on Amazon and others
Amazon has ballooned into a huge problem lately, not that this was unexpected or anything. Most recently I've been really unhappy with their response towards their unionizing members across the country. They've been notorious for having ridiculous working conditions for a while, and now that employees are doing something about it, they are not responding well
(that by the way is the first result pulled up on Google for "amazon unionizing workers." This is not difficult info to find). I do think they provide a valuable service, but I don't believe any company should ever grow as large as they have, nor should its founder ever be allowed to amass as much wealth as Bezos has (here's a visualization of just how removed he is from the rest of the world, in case you've ever had trouble picturing it in your mind, as I did: https://mkorostoff.github.io/1-pixel-wealth/
A good amount of my impulse/extraneous purchasing has been done through Amazon, so I'm putting the breaks on that for now. I'm currently building up a list of good Amazon alternatives for various products that I will probably share here at some point. I'm at the point now where I can sometimes afford to spend a bit more in order to support businesses that aren't as ubiquitous as the Big A--and I do acknowledge that this is a privileged position that not many share. In fact, that is precisely why I try to exercise it as much as possible, because I can (hopefully) help in ways that others can't.
Minimize my impact on the Earth
Everything I buy or order has to be shipped across the country to get to me, and therefore contributes to CO2 output. Once it gets there, whether at my front door or after it's been brought home from a local store, I'm always struck by how much packaging I have to throw away after it's opened. In the past I did my best to recycle what I could, but that's not really an option anymore
. So I do my best to lessen my dependence on plastics and one-time-use items, and I do without extra packaging wherever possible. That said, I'm not
a big fan of most bulk stores that require you to bring your own packaging for things. I'd venture to guess that 95% of the U.S. doesn't even have access to these places, and wouldn't be able to afford the markup if they did. It also requires a substantial change in habits and day-to-day life to make bulk purchases work, and most people just don't have that option. I guess this is an exception to the "helping in ways that others can't" point I made above, but I think the difference is that I just think most of these stores won't ever work long term for most people.
I loathe consumer culture
I still struggle to express in words how much I hate everything about consumerism. I hate the drive to fill our lives with things as a replacement for self expression, I hate the wastefulness, and the "infinite growth" mindset it's all based on is ridiculous. Fast fashion, shopping as a hobby (or worse, as therapy), buying your way out of problems, and "fear of missing out" are all ideas that serve to make the rich richer at my expense. And perhaps because I spend so much time in front of computers and online, I've grown tired of being the product. Sometimes the only way I can best protest things like these is to do my best to not participate at all.
I put this one last because I'm not a hugely
spiritual person, and also this is a highly personal thing that will resonate differently with everyone depending on their own faith. However, one thing most faiths have in common, I think, is that they do try to separate us from our fixation on "things," and turn us inward. Consumerism is the exact opposite of this pursuit; it encourages us to find satisfaction with the things we buy. There's been an entire body of research showing that advertising's primary focus is on making us feel like we're lacking in some way, since evidently this is the best way to make us part with our money. I won't rehash what smarter people than me have already figured out, but the info is out there if you're interesting in finding it.
I have a number of little thoughts here and there about how I'm accomplishing this low-buy goal of mine, and ways in which I haven't
been able to accomplish it, so I'll probably be posting those in the future at some point. I hope this, however, can serve as an explanation and jumping point for anyone who has questions about why I spend so much time thinking about this sort of thing.