Friday, May 6, 2016

Shopping Ban Update: 10 Months and New Perspectives

Time to talk about the shopping ban! It's been 10 months, can you believe it? There have been four main things I've learned from this experience, so I'm gonna go ahead and share those with you today:

Time Management is Hard 

I don't think I needed to engage in this project to figure this out, but, yep. Time is a factor in anything you try to do, and in the beginning of this project, I was trying to make a lot of my food rather than buying pre-made stuff. Welp, as soon as school started, this just started to really not work out. I've since reverted back to using pre-made stuff. However, I do use my time instead to participate and two organizations and an academic major all geared towards making the world better, safer, more just, and more sustainable, so I think the trade off there is more than fair.

The main lesson here was that this project taught me to appreciate all the time, effort, and resources that goes into preparing food products. This was a nice thing to learn, and a good way to learn it, because I actively used my own time, effort, and resources to produce lots of food, especially in the beginning.

This project also taught me a more personal lesson just having to do with my priorities and what I need and want to spend my time doing. I think that attempting to do this factored in to a larger understanding of how I organize my time. This has also been useful knowledge as I continue being a mini adult, and something I'll definitely write more about in the future.

I've Got More Power Than Just Buying Power! 

This project was conceptualized to help me avoid producing waste and participating in harmful systems of capitalism and consumption. While this is a noble goal, I think changing my personal habits is just one step to take. I also need to participate in collective action aimed at achieving the things I want for the world. This means being a part of organizations, campaigns, outreach efforts, and protests. These are all things that I do, but I think the main takeaway I got from this project was that rather than see my power as coming from my ability to choose what to buy or not buy, I need to step outside the role of consumer and instead become an active citizen, engaging in action to change systems, instead of just removing myself from them. 

I want to make sure this message is clear here, too. Power does not just come from choosing to make deodorant, instead of buying it. It also can take the form of protesting or boycotting the deodorant companies until they use sustainable packaging and remove breast-cancer causing chemicals from their formulas. Not everyone has access to the time and resources needed to make their own deodorant, which is why DIY and consumption limitation are not real solutions to the larger problems. Thanks to a combination of the shopping ban and some really great classes this year, I was able to learn this and share it with all of you. 

Buying Things is Silly 

Sometimes, buying things is not necessary. There are lots of things I was able to find for free or borrow or trade for. Other times, I just adapted to doing without certain things, and you know what? I am not any less happy than when I began this experiment, just for having to do without certain things.

Thus, my conclusion that buying things is silly.

Not Buying Things Feels Nice and Great

Yes, yes it does. I know everything that I own, and I use each item often, or else have gotten rid of it. It's a really pleasant feeling: I often have this sense of having everything I need. I don't feel that anxious desire or need for something new nearly as often as I used to. I have heard people buy things to fill a void. How ironic it is, then, that I feel I have come closer to filling that void just buy refusing to buy things. Instead, I have a strong sense of gratitude and appreciation for everything I own. It's really nice and great :) 

What began as a yearlong project will probably continue as a more permanent way of living. I have really enjoyed the shopping ban and the way it makes me feel, and I can't really imaging going back to how I lived before it! 

So, tell me what you think below in the comments. And if you've ever undertaken an experiment or lifestyle change like this, let me know about it! 


photos: 1. whooli chen 2. Bexelbee


  1. Hey Madeleine! This is really interesting, and I might give it a go when I leave for college—at the very least I'd like to try my hand at homemade deodorant. :)


    1. Hey Mallory!! Yeah I really like my homemade deodorant! I actually wrote a post about how great it is and the recipe I used here if you want to look:

  2. Madeleine, I am so proud of you for going a whole 10 months!! You have made me more conscious about consumerism. Although I still buy things, I only purchase what I need; well, with the seldom exception of treating myself every now and then. :)
    ♡ Dulce


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