July 3, 2011

Not Buying Anything Is Not Buying It

When I first started blogging I had several challenges in mind. The first was coming up with a suitable name that reflected my desire to live away from commerce as much as possible. I thought about "Not Buying It".

I discovered that New York author, Judith Levine, wrote a book by this very same name. Interested, I went to the public library to borrow a copy and returned home to see what Levine was up to.

In order to write the book, Levine and her husband gave up (some) shopping for one year. This sounded like a good start. However, the only good thing about the book - not shopping - was overshadowed by several other things:
  1. They stockpiled stuff prior to the no shopping start date.
  2. There was a lot of complaining about relatively minor things (what to do without cotton swabs).
  3. The family had two homes including a farm that didn't grow any food, and three cars.
  4. Friends were allowed to buy them stuff.
  5. I think she was intentionally hard on clothes - they were all wearing out by the end of the year. She is a writer, not a miner.
  6. The family did not give up things that many would consider luxuries, like expensive haircuts and subscriptions.
  7. The project was strictly for only one year, and at the end of the experiment it was celebration time, and not because they were free of consumerism.
  8. What she seems to have learned from her one year experiment is that it sucks to live without stuff when you desire stuff.

Levine's goal in writing her book was not to break free of the shopping habit. Rather, I think it was so she could enjoy shopping all the more after her one year experiment. The blog I was envisioning definitely was about reducing shopping and the financial and personal debt that accompanies it.

Then I thought of the name, "Not Buying Anything". I did a search for the words, and guess who was at the top of the page? That's right, Judith Levine and her anti-anti-shopping book.

And thus began one of my blogging challenges - to depose Judith Levine's, Not Buying It, from the top spot of a search for "not buying anything". I needed to make sure that people searching for real alternatives to a life of shopping were not side-tracked. I started writing.

After 2 1/2 years of blogging I am happy to announce that I have succeeded in knocking Not Buying It from the top spot of a 'not buying anything' search. Ahh, the internet - the great democratizer.

But my work here is not done. So many dissatisfied, tapped out consumers, so little time. Next challenge - get Judith to read my blog, see the light, and give up shopping for good.


  1. Nearer the start of my non buying journey I read "Not Buying It" and really enjoyed it. Now that I am a lot further through my non consumerism journey I can totally agree with the points you have made about her "rules". But I still see it as a great starting point for those who are just starting out and need a stepping stone away from their consumer addictions. Keep up the great blog! Love your work!

    1. Hannah,

      Thank you for leaving your comment as it made me realize that I, too, enjoyed reading "Not Buying It". Levine's book is filled with interesting facts and connections regarding how consumerism is perpetuated, and its nasty effects.

      Any move toward more sensible consumption habits gets us closer to sustainable levels, and should be applauded. You are so correct to point out that reducing consumption is a an ongoing process or journey.

      We have to support each other in this vital endeavour. Thank you for your support!


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