21 days and counting…


It’s been 3 weeks now and I thought I’d take the opportunity to share how we’re doing. To be honest, it’s been a breeze so far. I’m thinking that it’ll get more challenging as time goes on.

There have been a couple of small challenges, like, shortly after committing to buying nothing new and finding out that Anikah’s winter boots are too small…along with her snow pants…and skates!

  1. The skates were easily found at Play It Again Sports   http://www.playitagainsportsottawa.com/   for $16 CAD with our trade in.
  2. The boots were a bit trickier but, after dropping in to a couple of thrift stores, found the perfect pair of Sorels at Boomerang Kids http://www.boomerangkids.com/ for $25 CAD!
  3. The snow pants are a work in progress. We saw a couple pairs but Anikah would rather wear snow pants that are a bit too short, than get a pair that are not…let’s say…particularly cool.

Apart from the obvious challenges of finding things second hand, what else has changed? I’d say quite a bit! Life seems simpler now and this resolution is changing the way I think. Going into a store, unless for groceries, is just unnecessary so I never do. At first, if I had some free time before an appointment, the thought would cross my mind to pop into a shop to look around (and invariably end up buying something I think I need). It’s much easier without the temptation. And when we’ve had to enter a store to buy a lightbulb (Dollar Store) or to buy Advil (Shoppers Drug Mart), Anikah’s requests to buy things fell on deaf ears. It’s so much easier to say “no”!

I also see that I take care of my things a bit better than before because I know it could be more difficult to replace them now. I’m really trying to take care of my sunglasses! Or we are learning to make do with what we have and not automatically run out to buy it. We take the extra time to find the tape we know is “somewhere in the house”…and when we find it, use it sparingly!

And the last consequence I’ll share with you is saving money!

I know it all sounds so positive and I’m honestly not hiding the negative. I’ll have to ask Anikah to post an update from a 10 year old’s perspective. And I am sure there will be tougher times ahead. Just not sure what they will be!





The planting of the seed…


Nagarkot sunrise

The beautiful photo above was taken on a trip to Nepal in 2007 and serves as a good starting point to how my ideas, thoughts, motivation for this year of buying nothing new was influenced by my travels. I ended up spending a little over a year in total in Nepal over three separate trips. It’s no surprise that my experiences in this country must have had a profound effect on me.

When traveling in developing countries, I was surrounded by reminders of how much I have in Canada and how lucky I was to be living a life where my basic material needs are met. Still, I can recall a few times when I really questioned how dependent we think our happiness is on material gain.


The first I remember was when I had just begun the Annapurna Circuit, a 21 day trek of over 200km. We were forced to take a day of rest after our jeep broke down and we walked 40km to reach our starting point. My good friend was suffering from painful blisters because of her new hiking boots, so I took the day to sit in the village and try and take it all in. There were many curious children, but one in particular of around 2 or 3 years who took interest in my Birkenstocks. I’m talking over 30 minutes of interest, mostly in the workings of the buckle! I thought about all of the toys many felt compelled to surround their children with, and here was this boy happily playing (and learning!) with the buckle of my sandal.


In retrospect I feel that a child here in Canada could be equally captivated by my sandal. Don’t you always hear people saying “Jack opened his presents but is more interested in the boxes!” or “I can’t keep Anna out of the pots and pans…she has so many toys but would rather explore in the kitchen!” But, we are bombarded with toys that we are told help our children learn, give them a boost, a leg up, an advantage to the overwhelming plethora of things that need to be learned. How would we look as parents if we didn’t provide these learning opportunities (aka toys) to our children? Are we somewhat guilted into thinking we need to own so many products?

Although I had yet to become a mother and couldn’t see it from the perspective I now can, I was overwhelmed with this question of; “Are so many toys necessary for a child’s well-being, learning, and development?” and WHY DO WE FEEL WE NEED SO MUCH STUFF?

And that was the beginning. The seed had been planted all those years ago in my early 20s. Although it didn’t necessarily shoot up and thrive quickly, I appreciate that it had begun to take root and that traveling gave me that opportunity.

Story of Stuff

Here`s a video that Anikah and I watched together which follows the life of a product from extraction through disposal. It shows you the `backstory`of stuff and its social and environmental impact.

We watched it about a month ago which had its part in the birth of our challenge to buy nothing new so I thought I`d share.

How is this going to work?

I’ve been thinking that we’ll have to set some ground rules in order to move forward with a clearer idea of what this challenge of nothingnewin2016 will look like. There has to be some things that we just can’t buy second hand and there will be unforeseen questions ahead I’m sure.

Here’s what we know;

  1. Our objective is to buy nothing new!
  2. Food can be bought (although I have a friend who was able to feed her family of 4 with perfectly good food deemed unsellable by grocery stores-I’ll ask her if she wants to share her incredible story)
  3. Toiletries; toothbrushes, toothpaste, toilet paper, shampoo can be bought (but we will use up all the products we have at home, even if it’s not going to help tame our split ends, hydrate our hair, or make it thick, shiny, silky smooth, or as totally awesome as they claim in the ads)
  4. Dishwashing liquid, clothing detergent (other cleaning supplies Anikah and I will make with good old vinegar and baking soda)
  5. underwear (no explanation needed…)
  6. light bulbs (now there’s an idea!)
  7. gifts will be homemade with anything we have at home or they will be experiences (that’s a big objective as well, to focus on enjoying experiences, not happiness from objects)

So, that’s all for now. Thanks to everyone’s support and interest. Sharing this challenge on a public forum is important for my motivation and hopefully can provide some inspiration as well. xoxo


Well, I’m not sure if I’m in over my head to have committed to this challenge of not buying anything new in 2016. I actually just decided today while discussing with my daughter Anikah what our New Year’s resolutions will be. I always make them but they are soon forgotten. I wanted this year to be different and I was looking for a focus, a meaningful challenge.

While Anikah was clearing out her room of unwanted toys/clothes and stuff, I realized that we were always trying to only buy what we need but unable to stay focused. I don’t consider myself a big consumer yet still found myself buying things that I really could live without. I often had the conversation with Anikah about consumerism and how we are conditioned to buy, buy, buy. Not only is it a waste of money, but detrimental to our planet. Also, material goods can give us a false sense of happiness and self-worth with their quick and fleeting feelings of gratification. This is a message I’ve been trying to pass on to Anikah. What better way to really understand this idea than to see how we feel when we don’t purchase anything new.

We care about the environment, are always wanting to declutter, need to save money, and would love to focus on the nonmaterial aspects of life. And heck, it’s New Year’s Eve! What better time than now to start!

So, here’s to jumping right in to a year of nothing new!