Everyday Enviro with Elise - Buy nothing new month - RNY News

Everyday Enviro with Elise - Buy nothing new month

September 25, 2018

Elise Catterall


There are many campaigns out there to motivate people to change behaviours.  Whether it be Febfast or Plastic Free July, there is power in using mass media initiatives like this to bring awareness and help shift behaviour at the person level. Personally, I love a good campaign to get me excited about change. So, it was with great pleasure that I signed up for Buy Nothing New Month this October – my first time for this initiative – and I have pledged for the whole of October to “beg, borrow, barter, swap and Buy Nothing New”. 

Started in 2010 in Melbourne, Buy Nothing New, has now gone global, reaching the US and the Netherlands.  With a basic premise to challenge participants to buy nothing new for 31 days, the bigger concept is to encourage mindful consumption for the sake of the environment but also to discover the personal benefits of mindful consumption.

This is already very aligned to how I live for the most part, but I’m excited about it because it will help me catch those lingering behaviours – like the times I talk myself into why I need something right now.  Usually that relates to practical things – like, taking a recent example, a new pair of scissors.  I couldn’t find what I needed at home, convinced myself that they must be lost forever, and went out and bought a lovely new (expensive) pair, only to find the ‘lost’ pair in a matter of hours! If I had borrowed a pair, I would have saved myself $20, not to mention the packaging, and wasted resources.

To prepare for the month, I’ve been keeping a diary of what I buy, where I buy it and why.  This is a spend audit, much like doing the bin audit recommended by Anita Vandyke in her book Zero Waste Life to see what waste you are producing.  This has not only provided great insight, but has also been really motivating to make change.  The scissors mentioned above have duly been noted in the diary.

Not surprisingly, the Buy Nothing New website and Facebook page gives great advice for buying nothing new and recommends considering first whether you need an item then, if you do, how you can get that item without buying it new - by borrowing, bartering, buying second-hand, or even repairing.  

The campaign ties in beautifully with the upcoming Big Aussie Swap and Buy It Back Day that is part of National Recycling Week

 I have read some critics that say these ‘month’ campaigns are tokenistic and don’t bring significant or lasting change, but my experience has been the opposite.  And even if for some people lasting change doesn’t occur, I think these campaigns raise awareness and provide support for behaviour change that may come further down the road.  And even small or temporary changes, when multiplied by all of those who participate, can have a worthwhile impact.


See you next week! - Elise

Subscribe to Positive Environment News
Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes. 


Elise Catterall

Elise is a writer, photographer, and naturopath with a passion for nature. She completed a Master of Public Health in 2017 through the University of Sydney. Her photographic work focuses on flowers and plants as a way of celebrating nature. She has been writing for Planet Ark since 2017, sharing positive environment stories, personal environmental experiences and perspectives.