Down with Black Friday! Seven readers on how they turned their backs on consumerism | Environment

With Black Friday marking the beginning of a frantic month of Christmas procuring, we requested our readers to get in contact concerning the methods they have challenged consumerism.

Responses ranged from revolutionary adjustments reminiscent of giving up shopping for new garments to subtler tweaks reminiscent of making sandwiches relatively than shopping for a plastic-encased meal deal. Everybody agreed, nevertheless, that turning their again on a tradition that always calls for extra from shoppers got here with monetary and environmental advantages, to not point out a sense of smug satisfaction that cash merely can’t purchase.

Furnish your house free of charge

Earlier this 12 months, I purchased an outdated home with my companion. It was unfurnished and wanted appreciable work, together with a brand new kitchen and a brand new toilet. For a lot of, it might have been tempting to go to Ikea and furnish the home in in the future. Not for us – we weren’t snug with filling our new dwelling with stuff that’s going to be in landfill in just a few years. Moreover, why purchase new when the world is saturated with quirky used furnishings?

We determined to problem consumerism by getting all of it free from Gumtree and Fb Market. Time and time once more, we’ve been shocked by folks’s generosity: we acquired a virtually new TV stand from our neighbours and an undesirable solid-wood kitchen fully free. We dismantled it and tailored it for our kitchen; we had been full learners however we’ve managed to deal with all of the constructing work and plastering ourselves and it feels good understanding that we’ve saved so many objects that in any other case would have ended up in a skip.


I believe everybody ought to ask themselves if they really want that new merchandise, or if it’s a chance to be artistic and provides a wonderful object a second likelihood. Furnishing our home this fashion has been a win for our shallowness, wallets and the planet. Nicola Parisi, 36, Manchester

Spoil your new child with secondhand treats

‘We bought our baby a toy subscription.’
‘We purchased our child a toy subscription – we’re decided to not find yourself with a home stuffed with plastic.’ {Photograph}: Tara Moore/Getty Photographs

We had a child in June and have managed to not purchase something new: virtually all her garments are at the very least secondhand. We’re decided to not find yourself with a home stuffed with horrible plastic that will get used as soon as and forgotten about, so we acquired all her toys, usually free of charge, from Fb Market. We just lately purchased her a toy subscription from Whirli, too. The toys are nice and as soon as she’s performed with them, they get despatched again and changed with one thing totally different.

Individuals may be so beneficiant, notably with child issues, and it feels very nice to have the ability to do the identical. We’ve already given away her 0-3 months garments and we’re trying ahead to donating her 3-6 months wardrobe quickly.

Loads of folks wrestle to pay for all of the issues their younger baby wants. You can provide virtually something away – somebody, someplace will need it. Sam Hopes, 33, Lancaster

Give undesirable {hardware} a loving dwelling

Hand down old computers.
Hand down outdated computer systems. {Photograph}: Marko Geber/Getty Photographs

I’m an animator so I take advantage of high-end computer systems and graphics playing cards for my job. I needed to improve every part over lockdown, and actually wasn’t snug chucking completely serviceable elements right into a skip. My mom is 83 and solely actually wants the icon that fires up the web so she will be able to get on electronic mail and Zoom (which she’s acquired massively into previously couple of years). She is joyful with the free stuff, and when the elements lastly hit the recycle dump they may have been in service for as much as 15 years.

Handing down my outdated computer systems has taught me so much about how wrapped up in notion a number of consumerism truly is. Individuals are offered a phantom with regards to know-how. Corporations do an excellent job of constructing folks crave the newest shiny steel casing when, more often than not, the elements inside are pretty generic and possibly not even made by the identical model you assume you’re shopping for. Andy, 48, London

Study to stitch

I used to be an enormous shopper after I was younger, spending my pupil mortgage within the brisker gross sales, however when the pandemic hit I assumed it might be a good time to study to stitch. I used to be fortunate that my mum and grandmother have at all times sewn, so there was a spare machine mendacity round. However you may get a superbly good one for £50 on eBay. Material and garments to alter/alter are cheap for those who’re thrifty. YouTube is your greatest pal: there’s a video for each talent and each downside it’s a must to resolve.

Not solely is it an effective way to soundly cross the time in lockdowns, however it has made procuring in charity retailers a lot simpler, understanding I can alter garments so they really feel tailored to my measurement and elegance. I used to get so annoyed seeing issues that I preferred the look of however didn’t fairly work. Now I can do issues like flip a pair of outdated trousers right into a tote bag or flip a big males’s shirt into two new ones my measurement.

I’m even fixing issues for my housemates and making presents for folks they love and recognize. It simply means extra to folks when they can see you’ve hung out making one thing particular to them versus simply shopping for it. Ellie Bromwich, 26, London

Observe the “90-day rule”

In 2014, I set myself a problem. Might I’m going the entire 12 months with out shopping for something new or secondhand? It was robust however after 13 weeks, I broke my lifelong procuring habit and I actually loved being conscious about my purchases. Saving a staggering 38% of my wage was a pleasant bonus, too!

In fact, I couldn’t not purchase something for ever however now, earlier than I click on “add to cart” on Amazon, I pause and add the merchandise to my “90-day wishlist”. It’s often agonising having to attend however 9 occasions out of 10, I find yourself considering: “Nah, I don’t actually need that in any case.”

Past serving to me grow to be debt-free, the rule has made me happier. I used to spend my Saturdays traipsing spherical shops; now I’m centered on my passions, like strolling my canine on the seashore or arts and crafts. These experiences are a lot extra satisfying than trying round to see my flat stuffed with shiny belongings. I’m thriving, not simply surviving. Rachel Smith, 40, Kent


Don’t purchase any new garments

I used to be feeling hopeless about local weather change after I stumbled throughout an article encouraging readers to take part within the No New Clothes movement. I used to be already doing the fundamentals: I recycle, I stroll or use public transport, I’m vegetarian, I take advantage of reusable interval pants. I felt I used to be working low on particular person actions I might take. Tackling my consumerism felt like the subsequent logical step and, in June, I ditched quick trend.

I now assume way more deliberately about clothes. Do I really want one other new gown to put on to a marriage? What’s the purpose of shopping for one thing to put on solely as soon as when nobody’s actually paying consideration anyway?

I wasn’t insane with my spending earlier than, however most likely just a few occasions a 12 months I’d head into city to get a brand new pair of denims and find yourself coming dwelling with £150-£200 of stuff I’d solely put on a handful of occasions. The pandemic made it simpler to get out of the behavior.

Committing to No New Garments is so accessible as a result of most individuals have already got a great deal of nice garments already. I do know it has made me recognize what I’ve acquired much more.

Having stated that, I don’t assume it’s essentially about by no means shopping for something new once more. It simply makes you cease and assume: “Is that this one thing I’m going to put on as soon as per week, or now and again?” Chloe Maughan, 27, Bristol

Give Santa a break

Instead of buying gifts, take a family member out for lunch.
As an alternative of shopping for presents, take a member of the family out for lunch. {Photograph}: Dejan Marjanovic/Getty Photographs/iStockphoto

A couple of years again I made a decision to not give or obtain Christmas or birthday presents, only a card. We encourage relations to spend the cash they would have spent on us on themselves. This fashion no one receives undesirable presents – a lot nicer saving their money for correct treats.

I at all times do a charitable donation as an alternative – normally to an organisation working within the growing world reminiscent of Chase Africa or Brooke hospital for animals. So far as I’m involved we’ve reached “peak stuff”, so it might be nice for folks to search out different methods of doing presents – by making stuff, maybe, or simply taking a member of your prolonged household out for lunch.

Generally, folks get cross with me – they assume I’m being imply – however the way in which I see it’s I’m making an attempt to interrupt the cycle of senseless consumerism. The retailers are stuffed with tat and it’s unhappy understanding it’s all going to finish up in landfill. We will and may do higher.

I’d add that there are not any young children within the household – it’s shopping for stuff for adults that seems like a waste. Workplace Christmas presents are even worse: nobody is aware of what to purchase and you find yourself simply getting one another stuff nobody desires. Viv Fouracre, 60, Taunton

Further reporting by Alfie Packham

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