Had I Known

Had I known that 2014 would be the year our family would move to a new house in a new city in a new country some 4200km away, I may not have chosen it to be our year of buying nothing. “Since you’re moving, the challenge is ‘off,’ right?” people have asked. I confess, I’ve had to think about the answer.

At what other time in my life have I ever bought more than in the first few months after a move? This door needs a hook. This closet space needs extra shelves. This furniture doesn’t fit right. We need a new toilet brush. “Something” needs to go here

Could we actually move without purchasing anything? Would that even be possible? Well, there’s only one way to find out. No, the challenge is not “off.” It’s just getting interesting. Game on.

We’re moving for my husband’s career. He was head-hunted and offered an unbeatable opportunity. To boot, the new company is paying for a complete relocation package. So, no cheating there. The packing, the moving, the flying, the temporary housing, the temporary car rental, the temporary storage: all covered. We just have to do it without buying any “stuff.”

On Tuesday, the packer was at our house. She asked about the plunger, the garbage and recycling bins, and the grungy old broom. Typically, I would say that a new house warrants some new supplies. I don’t blame her for asking, but I answered (with a cringe), “No. It all has to go. Sorry.”

As she wrapped the toilet brush in packing paper, I told her about The Fasting Consumer. At first her reaction was one of pity or disgust. I couldn’t quite tell which. (Perhaps it was both.) When I answered her emphatic “why?!” however, she became slightly more enthusiastic. (You can read the basic answer here.)

“That’s amazing,” she said. “You haven’t bought anything since January 1st?! No clothes? No purses?” I laughed. Clothes and purses are the furthest thing from my mind. “And no tinfoil, no ziplock bags,  no tape … ” I answered. “Paper towels?” she asked, “Please tell me you’ve bought paper towels.” Again, I laughed. “Actually, I’ve never bought paper towels.” I said, “I’ve always used washable rags.”

I quickly added,”But we do buy toilet paper. I’ve read of people doing similar challenges and they don’t buy toilet paper. We buy toilet paper.” It felt good to defend my sanity in light of her expression.

“So that’s why you’re following me around, carefully collecting every nail and screw off the wall,” she said. “Yup. Can’t buy any nails, but I figure, as long as I don’t lose any (and we aren’t buying any more pictures), we should be fine, ” I said.

Here’s the carefully sorted and stored collection.



Sorry, Home Hardware. You won’t be getting our business. (And yes, those bags were purchased in 2013. They’ve been washed and re-washed uncountable times.)

Step 1 of the move was packing and cleaning out our old house. Items purchased (other than food): one container of Spackle to fill the holes in the wall. We couldn’t let The Fasting Consumer be an excuse for being irresponsible tenants, obviously.

Step 2 was the actual travelling. I usually buy gifts for the kids to be unwrapped on the plane. This time, I rooted through the crafts and toys we already had, found stuff that hadn’t been played with in a while and wrapped it in used paper. Later, some amazing friends gave us kid activities for the plane as going away presents–an awesome gift for kids and parents alike.

I bought Aurora a pack of gum for take-off and landing (we wouldn’t otherwise purchase gum) and I re-stocked our children’s chewable Gravol supply.  Step 2 otherwise required no extra purchases.

Step 3 was checking-in to our temporary housing. Before leaving Toronto, I was careful to research what would and wouldn’t be provided in temp so as to pack all that might be needed in our suitcases. Still, it’s hard to think of everything. Upon arriving, I quickly realized that there was no dishcloth. I was determined to make the facecloth work, but was delighted when I remembered that I threw the tattered dirty dishcloths from cleaning out our old kitchen in the laundry bag rather than the garbage. Waste not; want not!

Another thing I forgot to pack: elastics and little clips for resealing opened bags of food. Luckily, we did toss a random roll of painting tape in our luggage. I’ve been using little strips of green tape to hold down the folded-over bags.

Unfortunately, I didn’t pack any used grocery bags for garbage. We had to buy a small box of kitchen waste bags for our new home. Those bags are the only thing we’ve purchased during step 3.

Step 4 will be moving into our permanent, unfurnished home and setting it up with our own stuff, carefully stowed away by our faithful packer. That’s when I expect the real challenge will come. Stay tuned.



3 thoughts on “Had I Known

  1. Hi Bronny! 

    Hope you and the family are well! I just finished reading your most recent blog and I have to cheer you on and tell you how much I enjoy it! I look forward to hearing your success and looking for ways we can reduce, reuse and resist the consumerism that is so pervasive. I’m between jobs at the moment which feels like a perfect time to really be pursuing this more whole-heartedly. Not only is it the time (because truly, there’s always enough time if something’s important), it’s seeing how much “stuff” is stuffed into our apartment. It feels a bit like Spring Cleaning, and part of my efforts aren’t using what we already have – a large part is down-sizing to what we really need/use… but in someways it feels like a good first step towards being more thoughtful around what we’re using. 

    One hard part for me is the dollar store. It seems easy to justify a 1$ spend on something – anything these days really – but I’m getting better at pondering what we already have that we could use, and the “do we really need this?”. Thank you for the inspiration and good luck to you in this new adventure! I look forward to pics and updates as you’re able to share! 

    Love, Hugs, Cheers and adoration!  Norah 🙂 


  2. Pingback: Gone Astray | The Fasting Consumer

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