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  • Writer's pictureThe Mindful Materialist

My Year Without Shopping

If you’ve been following me this year, then you’ll know about my no-buy challenge. I was inspired by Signe from Use Less to challenge myself and have a year with no new purchases for my wardrobe. I had a few rules for myself — no new clothes, no second hand purchases, no new accessories. I allowed myself to buy essential items like underwear though. So how did I go?

Wardrobe additions in 2020

Hand-me-downs: 7

Gifted: 6

New purchases: 2

Money spent: $247


I don’t know if people wanted to give me things because I wasn’t shopping, or if they would have given me these things regardless, but somehow, I’ve ended up with seven preloved items making their way into my wardrobe. I inherited a summer wrap dress, a Country Road jumper, a cardigan and jacket from my nan and a pair of flats from my aunt. I have since recycled some of these items with Upparel after deciding they weren’t my style, or I passed them onto others. I also got a corduroy jacket and a cable knit jumper from my mum which she had before I was born.


I mentioned in my last post that I received some birthday gifts from ethical, sustainable brands — I received a trench coat from Sézane which I have worn to a couple of weddings already, and my mum bought me some boots from Obus. I also received a pair of adidas slides and runners. Now that Christmas has come and gone, I also received some wish list items that I’d been thinking about throughout the year. I got a t-shirt dress from Vege Threads and some wide-leg linen pants from Obus.

New Purchases

Now I know I said I wasn’t allowed to buy new things but let me explain these two. The first item was a black jumper which I bought for work. During the Melbourne lockdowns, I was washing my work clothes after every wear as I work in a hospital. Having only one uniform, I needed an extra top for when my shirt was in the wash. I spent $7 at a charity shop. The second purchase was a pair of sneakers. I started running this year during the lockdown so I needed the sneakers for that. I’ve had plenty of wear out of them and yes, I’m still running!

Was it worth it?

Absolutely. I’ve been able to save more than ever this year, and I’ve also kicked the habit of impulse shopping. Having a ban for the entire year also helped me get more use out of my existing wardrobe. I’ve started using a capsule wardrobe system — also inspired by Signe from Use Less — so I’m effectively shopping from my own wardrobe storage, rather than purchasing new items. I’ve been able to take stock of what I have, what I’m missing, and what I actually wear. Given the nature of 2020, there were many months in Melbourne where shops were closed and we were all in lockdown, so this took away the temptation. In some ways, it was easier to stop shopping with all the physical stores closed, but I also felt a real desire to support local businesses. Instead of shopping though, I wrote about these businesses and told friends and family about them. I shared them on my social platforms and used the year to research and learn.

What next?

I’m not going to implement a ban for 2021 because I don’t think I need to. I’ve learnt a lot this year about want vs need, and I’ve gotten to know my own style better. In 2021, I want to try my hand at making some clothes. I’m also excited to support some local businesses that I’ve had my eye on this year. But I’m only going to be buying things I need and things that will fit into the rest of my wardrobe. No more impulse shopping, and no more buying statement pieces which don’t fit with the rest of my wardrobe.

Would I recommend doing a no-buy challenge?

Yes. Definitely. But you need to make it your own. If a year is too long for you, then adjust it to suit you. Remember it’s your challenge, so design it for you. Maybe you could challenge yourself by banning shopping for a month? Or six months? Create your own rules and tailor the challenge to your lifestyle. Maybe you ban new products but allow yourself to buy second hand? Or perhaps you could challenge yourself to rent instead of buy when you have special occasions? Challenge yourself to ban fast fashion or only shop local.


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