Stuff about Stuff – Related Reading

I don’t read enough, so it’s handy to have pals who do. Imagine my delight when one of them agreed to write me a guest post!

Monica is a reader of books, a maker of lists, and a sprouter of avocado seeds. I asked her to share how she’s been making do lately:

“I am making do (and have been for the past three years) with a hand-me-down slow cooker. I believe it was a gift my parents received for their wedding so it’s over 30 years old. It’s a huge pain to clean (no removable ‘pot’ like new ones have) and I complain about it every time, but it still works, I only use it about once a month, and it really only takes an extra five or ten minutes to clean.”

(My wedding-gift slow cooker had a removable crock which cracked after five years, so I say stick with what works.)

You can and should read more of Monica’s stuff here.



In true librarian fashion, when I heard about Monique’s buy-nothing experiment, I immediately thought of relevant blogs, books, and other related resources. So here it is – a list of related reading to inspire, inform, and entertain.

Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping by Judith Levine (book) – Although the reviews on Good Reads aren’t great, I still found this book to be a useful read, and reasonably enjoyable. The author is surely writing from an “over privileged” perspective and her project is not without fault, but I still think it’s worthwhile. Read with a critical-eye and you’ll be all set.

Buy Nothing Year (blog/website) – Okay, so Monique isn’t the first to do this type of experiment. The premise is similar, although they planned to take it to the extreme by ceasing to purchase services in the second ‘phase’ and not buying food in the third ‘phase’. No food? The website states that they would eat only what is stocked in the pantry, what their friends cook for them, edible things they grow, and what they recover from a dumpster. The website hasn’t been updated since the six month mark (January 2014). According to this article in Forbes magazine they weren’t able to complete the third phase of their challenge as they, unsurprisingly, weren’t able to grow or find enough food to feed themselves. The blog itself is a bit “meh”, so I’d recommend reading the article in Forbes, rather than the blog posts.

The (blog/website) – Minimalism and not buying things go hand in hand. Although a lot of the focus of many minimalism blogs is on getting rid of stuff, the easiest way to start is by not adding new stuff to the equation. In 2011, Joshua Milburn from The Minimalists made a New Year resolution to not buy any physical items for the entire year. There’s a great summary of his experience here:

No Impact Man by Colin Beavan (book) – Although the focus of No Impact Man is on environmental impact, the themes of simplification, making do, and trying not to over-consume all ring true to the spirit of the buy-nothing experiment. There’s also a No Impact Man documentary, if you’d rather watch than read.

Over Dressed by Elizabeth Cline (book) – Not directly related to not buying stuff, but learning about the ‘behind the scenes’ of items we purchase, such as clothing can really help inspire less consumption. While it can be overwhelming to try to put what you learn in this book into practice (how can I really know where this came from? what is ‘right’ to buy? where should I spend my money? how do I know that spending more is actually buying a better quality garment that will last?), one way to solve all of this is to just not buy. Or at the very least, buy less.

Mister Money Mustache (blog) – Okay, I admit, this particular blog is only vaguely related to the buy-nothing experiment, but underlying a lot of Mister Money Mustache’s philosophies is the importance of frugality and his posts often touch on the theme of re-assessing what we spend our money on and thinking about why we spend in the way we do. Might I suggest the article Frugality is the New Fanciness or perhaps Luxury Is the New Weakness? At the very least, Mister Money Mustache provides some good ideas of what to do with all the extra money you’ll have once you stop spending it on “stuff”(spoiler alert: invest it!).

The Spending Fast (website/finance program) – The focus of the ‘spending fast’ from And Then We Saved is on eliminating debt and saving money, but the idea of cutting out superfluous spending can be helpful for anyone trying to limit their consumerism/consumption.

The Compact (social movement) – So it seems The Compact social movement has been around for a while. The rules are different, with a focus more on not buying *new* stuff (ie. thrift shopping is okay), but the general premise is the same.

Story of Stuff (video) – I’m sure many of you have seen this, but it’s a good reminder about where stuff comes from and where it goes when we’re done with it.

Just a reminder – no need to go out and buy any of these books. They’re more than likely available at your local public library. Happy reading (and watching)!