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.