Top Ten Tips for Buying Nothing New

In yesterday’s post all about sustainable New Year’s Resolutions, I promised you some top tips of you are contemplating making Buying Nothing New the resolution for you this year.
Here goes:

Top 10

1) If the thought of a year Buying Nothing New is making you feel a little trepidatious (I assure you you will find it easier than you think!) then why not ease in slowly, with a Buy Nothing New week, or month. Or aim to do a day every week, or a week every month and see how it goes.
I am a bit of an all or nothing type, so for me it was easier to commit to the whole year, but I guarantee that the very act of Buying Nothing New even for some of the time, will make you reflect more on the ‘normal’ purchases you are making. And you may find that you automatically cut down on what you are buying new without even thinking about it.

2) Avoid the shops!
For example-one of the things I found I missed the most was crafting mags like Mollie Makes, and Simply Crochet, but I found I didn’t miss them as much, if I didn’t torture myself by going in to the newsagents and browsing them each month!
Or, if you find that you often buy the odd item of clothing when you go to the big supermarket to do your food shop, you could change supermarket to a smaller one, or just change your route around the supermarket so you don’t cruise the clothes aisles!

3) Hit the shops! The charity shops.
You can find all kinds of things in charity shops-most of which you don’t need, but quite often there are little gems.
They are great for clothes, and for kids toys/clothes, as well as lots of household items.
I always check out the duvets/sheets etc as sometimes you can get really cook retro bedding sets, which give you LOADS of fabric for making, for very little money.

4) Make a list
Because you can’t just poop out and but whatever you want/need, I found it useful to keep a list of the things I was on the look-out for, and keep it with me. Then the next time I was doing a round of the charity shops, I could consult my list to see if there was anything I could cross off.

5) Ask!
If you let people know what you are doing, you may find that people start giving you first dibs on anything that they are getting rid of. We were given bags full of boys clothes, fabric, etc.
Facebook is also a great place to ask-just posting on your own personal page saying what you are looking for, especially if it’s just something you need to borrow for a short while.

6) Join your local Freecycle/Freegle group
If you aren’t already a member, you NEED to join!
You can post any items you are de-cluttering and people will come to your house to collect them, saving you a trip to the charity shop. AND you can post WANTEDs for things you are looking for-you will be amazed what people get rid of, and are happy to let you have for free.

7) Be prepared to think outside the box
Having to source things second-hand makes you far more inventive and resourceful.
I found this decision making flow-chart on FB before Christmas, on the Story Of Stuff page (I think they got it from GOOD) It’s slightly tongue in cheek, but it made me giggle, and makes some very good points!


From the GOOD FB page via The Story of Stuff

Ask yourself if you really NEED something. If you are going to have to put time and effort into finding it, you will be surprised how often you don’t seem to NEED something quite so keenly..!
If you really need/want it, ask yourself if you can repair the thing you need to replace? Or can use something else in it’s place?
I found that by the time I actually found what I thought I so desperately needed/wanted, I had either learned to make do without it, or to make do with something else instead.

8) If you really need something specific, then sites like E-bay and Pre-loved are great. You can search for what you want and set yourself a budget. Just remember to tick the ‘Used’ box in the search options, otherwise you could end up inadvertently buying something new!

9) Learn to sew
This is such a useful skill, and allows you to make a whole heap of stuff, and mend lots of things too!
If you don’t have a machine, keep your eye out of Freegle/Freecycle, or post a WANTED, or ask your friends/family if anyone has one taking up room that they no longer use.
If you have no idea how to even thread the machine, or what the heck a bobbin is (this was me 6 years ago..!) then have a look at The Sewing Directory for beginners classes near you, or again, just ask! If you ask around, you may have friends who could show you the basics, or join your local Streetbank group, and you may find someone happy to do a skill share/swap

10) Come and join our Make Do and Mend-able community over on Facebook! It’s a fabulous bunch of people, sharing their Makes, and Mends, and top tips for Making Do. It’s a great place to ask for help with anything you are struggling with, and everyone is very friendly and very lovely indeed!
There is also a Make Do and Mend-able Preloved Craft Stuff page, where you can ask to see if anyone has any craft supplies that you might be looking for (I drove everyone mad asking for green wool while making our pom-pom Christmas tree!)

11) Because all the best Top 10 lists actually have 11 things…
Enjoy it, have fun, be kind to yourself, and don’t beat yourself up if you slip a little every now and then.
And above all, remember:

Make a diff




28 thoughts on “Top Ten Tips for Buying Nothing New

  1. Playing #minsgame in November really made me think carefully about bringing new ‘stuff’ into our home and much more ready to ‘expel’ things to charity shops, gifting and via Freecycle. I love the flowchart and hereby promise that I shall try my best to make, make do and mend more this year! Thanks Jen 🙂

  2. we as a family are new to totally not buying anything new but we buy a lot second hand already , so this year we are going to give it a good go. my 13 year old son will be the hardest to convince . I have already started by putting away my 10 year old sons outgrown tops and t shirts ready to make my 3 year old daughter shorts and skirts when the summer months come so that will be less to buy her. Love your ideas and your posts are always so helpful and great to read .

      • I have have used a tutorial that I found on make it and love it blog for making leggings and am going to adapt it for cycling shorts and also a book on childrens sewing which has patterns to follow in it is patterns for shorts that I am going to try out . I have used the book loads so I know it should be quite easy. The book is called Little clothes for little people by Lia Van Steenderen and it also shows you how to make the patterns bigger. I picked it up at our church jumble sale about 6 years ago for 20p and it is very well used.

      • Jealous! It’s ages since I have been to a good jumble sale! That book really does sound like quite a find!

  3. Pingback: A Handmade Wardrobe for 2015… | My Make Do and Mend Year

  4. Gave up shops years ago coz there was minimal enjoyment in the stuff I bought (but was an ok depression buster!) I discovered charity shops in the last year and have found old wool blankets for £3, dressing table glassware for £1-2 for storing sewing stuff, clothes I like and that suit me but aren’t the height of fashion…..I even bought a pair of vintage shoes from eBay for 99p!

    Although I have a dietary problem so have to shop at supermarkets….I’ve taken to ordering the stuff I need from there and collecting for free (no temptation to buy other things!) and then whip round the corner to Lidls to get all the everyday stuff at about half the price! I’m saving around £100 per month!

    Am tempted to grow some of my own, but worried I shall waste money on seeds and still have to buy salad and veg!

    Try writing down all that you spend in a little book….hub and I did this and it is surprising how having to justify how you spent your money prevents you from buying that coffee or magazine!

    I’ll keep trying and any tips on starting to grow my own would be lovely.

    Take care,

    • I don’t think seeds are too expensive Nora. Or you could see if there’s anywhere near you that does a seed swap in the Spring?
      OR I’m told you can save the seeds from things like peppers that you buy in the shops and grow from them-might be worth a try?
      I am the least green-fingered person there is, but keep meaning to try and grow more veg etc-maybe this year will the year..!

    • Hi Noraathome, three packets of seeds will keep a family going all summer. And the seeds will last a year or two as well, so could well do three years. Get a packet each of watercress, rocket and a cut and come again type lettuce. Sow all three in the spring and plant out as soon as they have a couple of leaves. Protect from slugs and snails. Pick the side leaves of all three, not the tops, then they will keep growing all summer long. All three respond best to constant picking, so don’t be scared of them.

  5. Nearly New Sale for babies and children’s clothes, toys, books, furniture, equipment is a great place to shop. We sold baby stuff we no longer need and we received 70% of proceeds and 30% went to a charity. They are cheaper than charity shop.

    I’m now thinking of setting up a ‘free swap shop’ at my toddler’s play group. It’s good to help local parents.

    • Great tips Yoko!
      I’ve set up swap shops at toddler groups too-such a fab idea-everyone gets ‘new’ stuff for nothing 🙂 Do let us know how you get on

  6. I sometimes wish that lists like this would realise that buying stuff in charity shops often isn’t an option for plus size women. Most charity shops don’t stock above a size 20/22. It’s hard to be fat and ethical, you know?

    • Hi there
      Sorry, totally guilty of not even thinking about plus sizes. Is it worth looking on E-bay? If you can sew, then I guess that would be a possible solution?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s