Reducing Consumption — Lessons from My Year-Long Shopping Ban


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Rudey in third grade. She was in a Madonna phase.

It’s not an easy task to live a minimalistic lifestyle. Since the day we’re born, we’re raised to rely on belongs. It’s human nature to consume but we can be mindful about it. By reusing, shopping secondhand and repurposing, we can make the most of what we already have—what already exists—and make it easier on the planet.

Blogger Rudey of Rudey’s Room actually stopped shopping for a year. She challenged herself to break the habit of mindless consumption, of purchasing items just for the sake of buying. For 365 days, Rudey only shopped her home and wrote about her experience. Using creativity to look at her belongings in light, Rudey learned a few things about herself along the way. Check out her article below.

I faced the dresses, skirts and shirts hanging in my closet and did not feel fresh. I don’t want to wear that dress – again!

Only two more weeks, I reassured myself as I pulled a flowered dress off the hanger and tossed on my favorite tan cardigan that had multiple tiny holes in the armpits.

You got this. The end was near, and it was the pride to finish that kept me slugging through to the end. I stuck it out.

In bold are my hopes from my original piece on the shopping ban, and following is what happened.

  • Focus on Needs Versus Wants: Asking Do I really need this? Do I really want this? works. I’m fine with a want if it completes a look, is unique or for a special occasion. If I can afford it, why not? I keep a running to-buy list in the notes of my iPhone. I jot down items as I realize I need them or they wear out. My to-buy list helps me know what I really want/need and reminds me to get what I really want, even if it means waiting.
  • Hone in Your Style: I have a look unique to me. It doesn’t have a set name, like Bohemian, but my eye easily spots a look that sings me. I no longer fear becoming a walking what not to wear, so I’ll keep collecting signature pieces that fit my look.
  • Find Your Inner French Girl: Asking myself do you love it? was big.This attitude may not stop me from throwing the just okay shirt, the good enough jeans into my cart, but it will stop me from adding them to my wardrobe.Last week I bought a pair of emerald green eyelet shorts at Target for $8.80 on sale and a versatile summer dress (using the Cartwheel app, I saved 20 percent). I brought them home to try on and wasn’t in love – they looked like my style, but once on didn’t fit right.Before I may have tried to work with it – I mean, $8.80 is a steal – but this time I returned them. Yes, it seems less efficient, but in the end it’s more efficient because you’ll find signature pieces that stick.
  • Follow the Top 10 Rule: Does that shirt add a pop to your step? Do you walk a little taller, smile a little brighter when you’re wearing that dress? If so, you landed on a keeper. I’m putting together a list for the fall – by shopping my closet first and taking inventory for needs/wants. I’ll check back on this once I plan out my fall shopping list.
  • Buy Better: I’ll continue to buy my tanks and tees at Target. I’m forever a T.J. girl, which I do think is perfect for buying better at a discounted price. I’ll throw down a few extra bones if it feels like a classic item I’ll keep through a few seasons or years. For trendy pieces I’ll hit up Forever 21 and H&M. I’m a girl looking for a deal, and there’s no denying that.
  • Have an In-and-Out Policy: I plan to use this policy seasonally, and if I buy something new I may get rid of something old. It’s less of a must and more of a consideration to donate or throw away an item. An in-and-out policy> forces me to look at every piece of clothing and make decisions about what I love and what can be replaced.It’s with this policy that I also love my maybes box. It’s here that I house the clothes to which I just might not be ready to bid adieu. If I miss the Hawaiian-print tunic I can pull it out of the maybes box and try it again. If not, I’ll donate or throw it away at the end of the season. I just pillaged through this box and am donating most of the items I stored this year.

Did I buy anything? Yes. I bought a few things, mostly needs and if they weren’t, I was simply working le Système D. Would I do it again? Not for a year.

Maybe for a season or go on a two-month diet. I plan, however, to follow the above guidelines for shopping. The ban pushed me to take a hard look at my needs versus wants, my shopping habits, my likes, and to take inventory of the gaps in my wardrobe.

Rudey's blog, Rudey's Room, is a collection of ideas, missteps, stories, action plans, noticings, and refinements. She currently lives in Chicago with her husband, two daughters and the mission to build a mindful, loving, healthy and fun life—with roots and wings.

  • MJ Futrell

    These tips are a perfect jumping off point as I begin another move, after being in one house 15+ years. I’m in the process of “weeding out” my closet and dresser. Many of my clothes will not move with me, but will be donated. The cost of the move will necessitate less clothing consumption and I will be encouraged to reuse, repurpose, and buy secondhand. Thanks for sharing!

  • MJ Futrell

    Clothing! Great article that appeals to my thrifty nature.