Another year has ended and it’s officially 2022! Last week I already started evaluating 2021, I posted 10 positive impacts I’ve made in 2021. I started with the positive impact and today I am posting a little bit about the negative impact. Maybe I should have done that the other way around … But anyway! Today I am talking about all the stuff I’ve bought new in 2021.
This is the fourth year that I am writing down all my new purchases. I started in 2018, with a new pledge to buy nothing new. 0 new things. I failed and bought 8 things worth 1700 euros in that year. I tried to change things in 2019, when I spent 337 euros on 11 things. Last year, in 2020, I bought 28 things worth 613 euros. I moved in the wrong direction, because the goal is 0. I aim for 0 because that is the littlest impact on the planet I can make. The less stuff I buy, the more sustainable I live. I aim for 0, but I have never reached it. Also, a number near 0 is not always bad either. Sometimes I just have to make new purchases because I am not able to avoid it, lend it, borrow it, or buy it secondhand. That’s not always a bad things since I sometimes am able to then support sustainable companies and that’s good too. So maybe close to 0 should be my goal.
It’s important to know what’s included in the category of stuff, since I have made some mistakes the past years. I don’t include consumables: things like shampoo, make-up or toothpaste. I don’t include those because I am very strict and frugal on what I use, I simply need those things. Also, they’re not stuff. When I finish my toothpaste, it’s gone and I recycle the glass jar. It’s a consumable, not stuff. I also don’t include secondhand stuff I buy. I think the person who buys the stuff new is accountable for the impact. Buying secondhand is in my opinion just making use of something that was otherwise thrown onto landfill. I do include gifts. That’s because I feel that it’s my responsibility to tell people not to buy me new stuff. I also include clothing here since I consider that stuff too.
Let’s go through the list! These are all the items I bought new in 2021. With every item I will briefly discuss whether I regret this purchase or not and whether I could have made a different decision:
1 Batteries, 5 euros (January). I do need batteries, but I should have bought chargeable batteries, since they last way longer because you basically reuse them. When these run out, I will go for rechargeable batteries.
2 Plug for my Piano, 3 euros (March). I do not regret this small purchase. When I play piano either Casper (my boyfriend) or my roommates are bothered by the sound. I bought this plug so that I can use headphones when playing. I did not manage to find it secondhand. No regrets.
3 Photo for Dad, 4 euros (April). For my dad’s birthday I bought a secondhand photo frame, which was great. However, I did need to print the photo. This is simple not available secondhand. No regrets here.
4 Underwear, 170 euros (May). I bought underwear at Saint Basics, since the previous two purchases I did at Organic Basics were hurting my legs. The model was awful and so I needed new underwear. I don’t buy underwear secondhand. Saint Basics is an amazing, sustainable and ethical brands. No regrets here and I think with this big purchase (9 items) I will be good to go for years.
5 Shorts for Under Skirts, 21 euros (May). Along with the underwear, I bought a very small boxer to wear under skirts. So that when I bike or bend over, I don’t have to be afraid that my underwear is showing. I could not find this item anywhere secondhand and bought it at Saint Basics as well and so I am very happy. No regrets.
6 Bathing Suit, 20 euros (June). This is a purchase I do regret. I was struggling with my weight a lot due to COVID-19. And with struggling I mean that it was changing a lot. Buying a secondhand bathing suit was therefore quite difficult and I had little time. If I had prepared this better I didn’t have to make this bad purchase. I bought it at H&M, which is the thing I regret the most.
7 Paint, 30 euros (July). I moved again in 2021. In 2020 I also moved so this was very soon again. In my new room in Amsterdam I wanted a little color on the wall and so I bought paint. I bought it from the sustainable and ethical brand Fairf and so I do not regret this purchase.
8 Mattress, 150 euros (July). This is a purchase which is hard and I don’t know really know how I feel about it. I needed a mattress and was repeatedly advised not to buy this secondhand and it also didn’t feel right to buy such a thing secondhand. Buying it sustainable cost me too much money, around 2200 euros and I could not spend that money. I bought a mattress at IKEA for 150 euros after all. It sucks, but 2200 euros was just too much.
9 Stuff for Painting, 30 euros (July). When I moved to Amsterdam, we (my boyfriend and I) had to paint the walls white again for the next owner in our old apartment. We bought paint and painting utensils. I am not happy with the paint because it was not a sustainable brand but our landlord left us no choice. Also, we needed to buy some utensils because I didn’t plan everything around the move right. I do regret that. Better planning could have avoided the utensil purchases.
10 Rain Poncho, 1 euros (August). On holiday in Maastricht (a local holiday) it rained a lot. I do not own a raincoat and so I bought this poncho for the time being. I do not regret this but I am planning on buying a secondhand rain suit to prevent this kind of small purchases.
11 Frenchie Pillow Cover, 5 euros (August). On my holiday to Italy (by car), I saw an adorable pillow cover with a French bulldog on it. I could not resist to buy it as a gift for my mom since we a French bulldog too. I do not regret this purchase even though this is not a sustainable purchase. I have my flaws too.
12 Nail Clipper, 1 euro (September). A very small, but necessary purchase since I moved to my own place. I would not want to buy this secondhand.
13 Toilet Brush, 13 euros (September). Another purchase I needed because of the move but one I didn’t want to make secondhand. No regrets here either.
14 Earrings, 19 euros (September). This is a gift I got from my dad for my birthday. I got a second pair of holes for earrings in my ears. When getting these holes, you have to pick new earrings which will stay in for the first few months so I could not avoid this purchase. When I buy earrings myself, I buy them secondhand. I do not regret this purchase.
15 Piercings, 40 euros (September). I found out that piercings are not something you can buy secondhand. However, I did want to have a different pair. That’s because the ones I chose when I pierced my ears were quite ugly. The ones I bought this time will be long-term. I wish I was able to buy them from a sustainable brand, but I could not find a sustainable piercing brand.
16 Curtain Hooks, 6 euros (September). I bought secondhand curtains and had to wait for that for a few weeks. And so, I slept without curtains in that period and I hated it. Once I picked up the secondhand curtains and realized I needed hooks to hang them up, I did not hesitate and bought them new at HEMA. I did not want to sleep without curtains anymore. Upfront I didn’t know what secondhand curtains I was going to find and so I could not have done this beforehand. I have no regrets.
17 Blender, 25 euros (September). This was a gift from my new flatmates in Amsterdam. I just moved in and so they didn’t really know anything about my lifestyle yet and so they bought me a new blender. I thought it was really sweet, but next year I will ask them not to do so. This year it was something I could not prevent.
18 Nails, 4 euro (September). I have no idea why I bought these new, I do know that I needed them to hang up my secondhand lamp. If I could do it again, I would buy them secondhand.
19 Soap Container 4 euros, (October). I needed a container to store my naked soapbar in for traveling. I had only found some plastic ones secondhand, but I wanted this to be plasticfree. And so I made the choice to buy it new, I think it’s made out of stainless steel. I prioritized my health this time because I don’t want my soap to be stored in plastic. I do not regret this because I had already sought for this thing secondhand for 2 years.
20 Lunch Box, 20 euros (October). This is the same story. I have been looking for a secondhand lunch box that is not made out of plastic for years now and I just can’t find it. I don’t like my food being stored in plastic and so I chose to buy this container. Now I have the option to store my food plasticfree. I chose my health over sustainability here and I do not regret this.
21 Books, 18 euros (December). I had been wanting to gift my brother some books for a while, but I could not find them secondhand because they’re quite new. However, I did think they were very important. They’re educational, feminist books for young people. There are essential things in there that I think should be taught to teenagers and so I chose to buy the books new. I do not regret this at all.
22 Gifts 20 euros, (All Year). This is a difficult situation. Now that I have 13 flatmates we celebrate at least one birthday a month. Whenever it’s someone’s birthday we buy this person a gift with the 13 of us. I have very little say in this, but I do also pay for it and so have responsibility here. I don’t think I can convince people to buy secondhand gifts all the time. What I will try is to steer the gift in a way that the person receiving it really needs it. I don’t like buying useless stuff. But we’re doing pretty good there already.
All in All
Jeeeeez. I spend a total of 609 euros the past year! Wow, I find that a lot. The average Dutch person buys 2200 euros of new stuff each year, so I buy much less than the average person. However, this is still a lot. 609 euros, but half of it is the mattress (150 euros) and underwear (170 euros). Also, I barely regret my decisions reading back now. I would have saved 59 euros if I cut the decisions I regret, not that much. Hmmmm. Maybe this high number is not necessarily a bad thing since I have little regrets. I mean, for example, the underwear I could have bought for 15 euros at an unsustainable, unethical brand. That would make it seem like I did very good because I spend little, but it is a horrible choice. 170 euros on underwear seems a lot but that’s because the people making it receive a fair wage and it harms the environment as little as possible. I am happy to pay for that. Maybe I should count the items instead of the money. I find 22 items a little too much for one year.
I am actually quite happy with this results since I have little regrets. I will however start this challenge again since I moved this past year and feel like a lot of purchases were related to that. I hope I can do better this year since I will not move again. For now I am celebrating 2021 and starting the challenge again for 2022!