Each year I challenge myself to buy nothing new, as that is the most sustainable thing to do for the planet. 2022 has officially ended, so it’s time to see how I did the past year. Today I am sharing all the new purchases that I made in 2022. It’s time to reflect how much I bought, which new purchases I regret and so where I could improve. Time to make up the balance.
Here’s the list of everything I bought new in 2022. This list only shows news things, so no secondhand purchases. Also, consumables, things like shampoo, soap or toothbrushes, are not included either since they’re not actually stuff. I list the item, the price and the month in which I bought it. Under each item I give a little explanation. Could I have avoided the purchase or bought it secondhand?
1 Sweater, 15 euros (January)
The first thing on this list is immediately something I regret. I gave in to group pressure here. I live in a student flat with 13 others. One of them suggested we, as a unit, should all buy the same sweater, as a group thing. Everyone thought it was a great idea and I did not want to boycott the plan, so I gave in. I spend 15 euros on that sweater, which is probably fast fashion. Let’s hope nobody will make such a proposal again anytime soon.
2 Towel, 4 euros (February)
In February my boyfriend and I went on a weekend trip. We stayed in The Netherlands, in Callantsoog. Therefore, it was a sustainable holiday (we did not have to fly or travel far). However, we did not check the website of the accommodation where we stayed correctly. We both thought towels were included, but there were not. Consequently, we had to buy one towel in a local shop, we shared the towel. Stupid.
3 Gifts for housematers, 65 euros (January until September)
Another thing I surrendered to due to group pressure. In September 2021 I moved into a student flat in Amsterdam. In this student flat there was a tradition: every time it’s someone’s birthday, all the other flatmates pay about 5 euros to buy a big gift for the birthday person. I did not like the tradition, because it encourages consumerism. But I was new to the flat and so I just went along with it. After about a year I finally had the courage to suggest a new tradition. That worked! I proposed that we skip the materialistic gift, but we buy some cake and eat it together. I am so happy about this change!
4 nail file, 1,60 euros (May)
About 7 years ago I had an accident where my toe was shattered. It’s been a problem area ever since. I needed a file to file the nail of that toe. I do not want a secondhand file, so I bought it new. Afterwards I did regret that purchase because it was a shitty file. I had to buy another one in August again.
5 Satisfier, 21,45 euros (June)
Over the past years, so many people recommended a satisfier to me. It’s a sex toy which can be used to stimulate the clitoris. I dis not have one. It seemed like literally everybody around me had one and recommended it to me. And so, in June, I decided to treat myself and I bought a new one. A sex toy is not something I would buy secondhand. In the end I do regret the purchase because I’ve used it only a couple of times and it’s not really my thing.
6 bicycle lamp, 4 euros (June)
7 Chargeable batteries, 8 euros (June)
On my old bike I had a dynamo to charge the light of my bicycle. However, I bought a ‘new’ secondhand bike in June since the old one was totally done after about 13 years. That ‘new’ bike had no dynamo and bicycle mechanics don’t install them anymore. They say it’s too expensive and I should just buy a lamp that runs on batteries. And so I did, since I could not find it secondhand anywhere. I did choose to buy chargeable batteries, since that is more sustainable on the long term. I also bought those batteries new, as I could not find them secondhand.
8 Secret project, 32,50 euros (June)
I cannot tell too much about this project. It’s a gift to someone that might read this blog. But I can assure you that I could not have avoided this purchase and I could not find it secondhand either.
9 Bamboo sticks, 1,50 euros (July)
I have some adopted plants and I also own some cuttings from another plant which were gifted to me. I don’t buy new plants. Anyway, my monstera is growing rapidly and so I needed something which it can grow onto. I bought some bamboo sticks so that the plant can continue to grow. I did not bother to search for this secondhand because it was so cheap new, only 1,50 euros. And raw bamboo is a sustainable product. However, next time I will try to buy it secondhand.
10 Nail file, 5 euros (August)
Since the first nail file was so shitty, I bought another one in August, this one. However, this one was shitty too. And so I regret buying this one too. Eventually I got a secondhand one from my mom, which was great.
11 Spare key for my bike, 6,95 euros (August)
Since I bought a ‘new’ secondhand bike in June, I also went to a local shop to get a spare key made for when I lose the first one. This way I always have a back up and don’t have to give up the original lock. I could not buy this secondhand.
12 Party plugs, 12,55 euros (August)
I always wear party plugs to protect my ears against damage when I’m surrounded by loud music. This can be at a festival, but also at a party of at a dance class. I bought my party plugs a while ago and I felt like it was time to replace them. And so, I bought new ones. And I do not want to buy those secondhand.
13 Lid for a mason jar, 0,50 euros (September)
I make my own make-up remover and store that in a small mason jar. And that mason jar has a rubber lid in between the glass that was worn out. It needed replacement and so I bought a new one. I could not find it secondhand.
14 inner tube for my bike, 4,50 euros (September)
In June I bought a ‘new’ secondhand bike, since the old one got really shitty. However, I did not want to get rid of the bike entirely. I decided to move it to Groningen, so that when I visit my boyfriend who lives there, I can use that old bike, instead of renting one. The inner tube of that old bike had a leak, and so I bought a new one to repair the bike. I could not find this secondhand. And I am happy that this way the old, shitty bike still gets used a little bit.
15 Piercing, 60 euros (September)
This was the purchases I already saw coming in 2021. I wanted to get a new piercing in 2022, so I knew that my plan of buying nothing new at all would not work. I got a Daith piercing for my birthday from my dad. When a piercing is first pierced, you have to buy a new piercing for that. When you want to switch the piercing to something else later, you can then choose a secondhand one, if you can find it. For now, I am not planning on getting any new piercings and so I have good hope for 2023.
16 Menstruation cup, 15,45 euros (September)
I use a menstruation cup when I am on my period, as that is zero waste. But I’ve had it for about 8 years and it seemed like the thing did not work anymore. I tried all sort of things, but I kept leaking into my underwear. A menstruation cup can last up to 10 years and so it was time to replace it after 8 years. And so I bought a new menstruation cup. It did the trick and now I hope this new one will also last at least 8 years too. This is not something I dare to buy secondhand.
17 ceder wood, 4,90 euros (October)
I live in a student flat that was built in 1966. I have built-in closets and those are that old too. Therefore, my clothing can smell a bit stale after it’s been in that closet for a while. I did not want to buy any chemicals to make the closet smell better. But I did found out that ceder wood can be a natural air freshener. And so, I bought a few small pieces and put it in my closet. I could not find any secondhand ceder wood. Right now, I am not sure about whether I regret this purchase or not. I am not really convinced of the smell but I also do not want to buy anything chemical. For now it’s fine.
18 Two bra’s, 100 euros (October)
For years, I had two secondhand bras which were both really worn out. I had one secondhand bra which I would wear almost every day and an additional more comfy bra which I would wear sometimes. I wanted to replace both. However, I didn’t know my exact size anymore. And so, I wanted to buy bra’s from a sustainable and fair brand which had a physical store so I could fit the bra’s. I found two bra’s, one for every day and a comfy one, at The Lingerist in Amsterdam. They suit me perfectly and I wrote down my size for next time. Maybe then I can buy them secondhand, I am open to that. But for now, I really wanted these new and that’s okay.
19 Underpants, 412,80 euros (November)
This last one is a long story. About 3/4 years ago I realized that I needed some new underpants. I did not want to buy these secondhand because I think that’s gross. And so I began searching for new, sustainable and ethical underpants. The first time I bought a whole bunch of underpants at OrganicBasics. However, these turned out to be too small. I normally wear the size small, but small at OrganicBasics apparently meant something different. Since I thought the problem was that those were too small, I ordered the same underpants at OrganicBasics again a year later, but then in size medium. I bought about 10 underpants, thinking they would last years. But after a while, I realized that the size was not them problem, because the size medium underpants also hurt my groin in the same way. I spend a lot of money on these underpants, but they were not right.
Then, a year later I found underpants at SaintBasics. I ordered 1 underpants there too, because I wanted to know whether it suit me well or not. At first, the underpants seemed perfect. Not too tight and pretty. So, I ordered a bunch more. About 12 or so. After having worn these for a long time too, something seemed wrong. They were just too long. The width was perfect, but I had to wear them very high in order to make them fit me. It also became apparent that the fabric, bamboo, made me sweat more than cotton did (even though SaintBasics says the opposite must be true). After some time, I was done with those underpants too. And I was on the hunt again for new, sustainable and fair underpants.
In November of this year I finally found them! By accident. I was shopping in Amsterdam, trying to find a store which sold sustainable and fair underpants. I had a list in my phone of shops I wanted to stop by. But then, by accident, I passed The Lingerist in Amsterdam. They sell sustainable and fair underwear, just what I was looking for! I bought one underpants from the brand Bits, to try it out. This underpants was exactly what I wanted. Made out of cotton, not too tight, not too loose, enough room near my vulva, nice color, it was perfect. And so, after wearing that underpants a few times, I went back to the Lingerist to buy some more. Once there, I got the news that Bits, the brand of the underpants, was bankrupt and would close down. I could only get my hands on 1 one more underpants that day. I was guttered. After years of looking for the perfect underpants brand, I finally found it and now it was closing down.
However, once home I looked at the website of Bits. My size was all sold out online as well. But, I did reach out to them on Instagram, asking if they had any more selling points in Amsterdam beside the Lingerist which I could go by to get my hands on some more underpants. They didn’t. I was devastated. But then, a few days later, Bits reached out to me on Instagram, saying they did a recount of the stock and found some more in my size. I bought everything they had. In total I spend 412 euros on all those underpants (including the two I bought at The Lingerist).
It is a lot of money and that did scare me a little bit. I never spend so much money all at once. However, Bits was closing down and these were the last ones I could get my hands on. I now have about 20 underpants which I hope will last me a very long time. And now, I can finally end this underwear story, after years of searching. Since Bits is bankrupt I will have to find a new brand again once I run out of these. But I hope that will be in 30 years or so, maybe even longer! For now, I am happy, because this finally means that I can close this chapter. Therefore, I am confident that I will buy no new clothing next year, as this was the only thing I still needed and I did not want to buy secondhand!
The end result
In total I spend 775,70 euros. That’s quite a lot! But more than 412 euros of that are for the underpants which I really needed and hopefully lasts me decades. Then there’s 362,90 euros left. I think that’s okay. Honestly, I would like and aim for zero, but some things are just unavoidable. I will aim for 0 again next year. And it seems ridiculous, but I really believe I will make it in 2023. Or at least close to 0.
I made a graph to see how I did the past few years. I have had one great year in which I spend about 330 euros, but I am mostly stuck around 600 euro. Right now, the trend seems to be increasing, which sucks. The graph may not be that hopeful, but I am.
Now it’s time to evaluate: which choices could I have avoided? I regret buying the sweater, the towel, the gifts for housemates, the two nail files and the satisfier. That’s worth 112,05 euros. All other things I did need and I could not buy them secondhand. 112,05 euros is too much for things to regret and I hope to do better next year.
Why nothing new
And to give a little recap on why I’m trying to stop buying new stuff: it’s the most sustainable thing to do. Buying new stuff is the most (negative) impactful thing that Dutch people do. If you avoid to buy new stuff, you avoid negative impact on the planet, simple as that. No new resources are needed.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I think 2023 will be a great year for me, concerning new stuff. I don’t for-see any purchases which I can’t buy secondhand right now. This year I spend over 700 euros on new stuff, so it seems like a big step to go to zero next year. But I am really confident! We’ll see how I did next year. For now, I am pretty content with all my new purchases in 2022. Some regrets, but overall I am content for now. But next year I’ll do better!