Save money and the planet during Buy Nothing New Month

Do you get to the end of the week and wonder where your money went? Want to detox from pulling out your wallet? Buy Nothing New Month is just the thing for you.

It’s simple. During October ask yourself: ‘Do I really need that new television, phone or dress? Or could I borrow it, barter for it or buy it second-hand?’

Not only will you give your wallet a break, it’s also a great reminder of the tonnes of waste we keep dumping on the planet.

The rules

The Buy Nothing New Month rules don’t extend to everything – food, hygiene products and medicines are all exempt – although it’s worth remembering that annually Australians waste around $3 billion worth of fresh food.

The idea behind Buy Nothing New Month isn’t to go without things you actually need. Instead, it’s a month where you can stop and think about how, where and why you shop. When you do want or need something during October, consider one of these options:

  • Shop in second-hand stores and op shops (and sell or donate your old gear while you’re there).
  • Check out online markets and second-hand websites.
  • Repair items rather than replacing them.
  • Recycle, freecycle and upcycle.
  • Rent or borrow items that you don’t need permanently.
  • Ask around – you never know what your friends and family have in their cupboards!

We are wasters

Unfortunately, Australians don’t have a great track record when it comes to waste. In 2009, it was calculated that the average Australian family produces enough rubbish each year to fill a three-bedroom house from top to bottom. That’s around 2.25kg every day.

In fact, per capita, Australia is one of the top 10 waste-producing countries in the world.

In Australia, electronic waste, or e-waste, is generated three times as fast as any other waste. It’s not just old TVs and computers. E-waste is any device that connects to a power supply. Just think of all the old phones, toasters and kettles that get thrown away when people buy newer models.

Clothing has also become cheap and disposable. We buy an average of 27kg of new clothes a year and discard another 23kg to landfill.

One family’s waste journey

Last year, one Tasmanian family decided to test themselves by participating in a sustainability challenge.

The Carters won Sustainable Living Tasmania’s two-week competition, which involved composting or recycling all their waste.

For Oberon Carter, his partner Lauren and their three daughters, that challenge has turned into a permanent way of life. All year round they create zero waste and buy nothing new. In the last year, the only true waste they have created fits into a Tupperware container. “Our toaster broke and we chose not to replace it. We use the griller in the oven instead,” Oberon explains.

The Carters are also driven by a tight family budget, a reality most of us can relate to.

Oberon recommends scouring second-hand shops or thinking of other options. Can you borrow the tool you need from a neighbour rather than buying it? If you have kids, perhaps you can use your local toy library.

“We’re not saying you have to be like us, we simply say do what you can within your own means,” says Oberon.

However, even this zero-waste family draws the line on buying some things second-hand. So what do they buy new? “Socks and undies,” says Oberon.

Tips and inspiration

Looking for inspiration or tips on how you can start cutting down on waste and buying nothing new? Check out some of these helpful sites and blogs:

Zero Waste Home: Great ideas to cut the clutter and make more of what you’ve got.

The Rogue Ginger: Tips and tricks on how to care for what have you, plus sustainable products (to buy after October).

Textile Beat: The Australian arm of the slow fashion movement, encouraging us to wear every item at least 30 times and buy items to last.

The New Joneses: A great site full of tips on how to give more, use less and generally keep the earth beautiful.

Taking part in Buy Nothing New Month? Visit Australia’s leading second-hand specialist Cash Converters for a huge range of quality things you might need – technology, games, books, DVDs and furniture. All pre-loved, all great value.

Ella Kennedy


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