Since 2018 I’ve been challenging myself every year to buy nothing new at all. Zero expenses to anything new. Secondhand purchases are allowed, as the impact from the product goes to the person who chooses to buy it new. So far, I’ve failed every year. Buying very little is do-able, but buying nothing new is quite hard. And so, this year I’ve failed again. That is a bummer, but I do intend to reflect and learn from these purchases. And so today, I am sharing a list of everything I bought new in 2023.
Like I said, secondhand purchases do not count. Also, consumables like shampoo or deodorant do not count either, as they are not stuff. This list contains all new physical stuff that I bought in 2023. I try to minimize my new purchases as that is the most sustainable thing to do. It’s best to use what we already have and leave the resources we need for new stuff where they are. I also intend to live an eco-positive lifestyle and buying as little new stuff as possible helps with that. Anyway, let’s get to it. Here’s everything I bought new in 2023:
1 Front dynamo light on my bike for 19 euros (January)
Since I bought a secondhand bike here in Amsterdam (about 1,5 years ago), I used a bike light that ran on chargeable batteries. I thought a standard dynamo could not be installed onto my bike, as my grandpa was the one who installed it on my previous bike and he lives very far away. At the bike shop they said they couldn’t install one, so that was it. But then I discovered Reelight. A brand that sells wireless dynamos! I was over the moon and bought one for my bike (only for the front light, because it seemed that this wireless dynamo could not be placed on my back of my bike). However, I could have bought them secondhand (which I didn’t know at the time, stupid) and so I regret not doing that. I could have prevented this new purchase.
2 Bike tire for 100 euro (February)
In February, I lended my bike to one of my flatmates. Unfortunately, he treated the bike very badly and so he made a stroke in the tire. It had to be repaired at the bike shop for 100 euros. My flatmate paid for it, but I still consider it my purchase, as it is my bike and my choice to lend it to him. I regret this choice very much. My bike is so essential for me to get somewhere, that I will never lend it out again.
3 Charger for a digital photo-frame for 34 euros (June)
I had been wanting a digital photo-frame for a while and my in laws had an old one they didn’t use. Perfect! They gifted it to me so that I could use it. There was one thing missing though: the charger. They couldn’t find it anywhere and I couldn’t find a secondhand one anywhere. And so, after a few months, I made the choice to buy it new. I do not regret this choice. In the meantime the photo-frame has broken and couldn’t be repaired, so I don’t use the charger anymore now. But I do not regret buying it because I could not have known this beforehand.
4 Repairs to my ring and necklace for 165 euro (June)
I have two very sentimental items on me: one ring and a necklace with another ring on it. There was a stone missing from the ring and the necklace didn’t have a safety-check for if the clasp would break. And so, I chose to replace both. The stone so that the ring was whole again and the clasp so that I would never lose the necklace. There was no option to do this secondhand. I do not regret this purchase, I hope the clasp of the necklace lasts me a lifetime and the ring should be good to go for at least 5 years. I paid 165 for these repairs and that includes labour too. But I don’t know what share of the price goes to labour and so I included the full price here.
5 Inner bike tire for 7 euros (July)
I had a flat tire and so I replaced the inner tire. At the time, I had repaired it a few times already and it was time for a new one. I do not regret this purchase.
6 Lice comb for 15 euros (July)
When I was on holiday in Ghent this year, I found out I had lice… Not because my hair was itchy, but because one lice fell out of my hair into the sink when was doing my hair. I was shocked and still don’t know how I got them. But I did want to get them out as soon as possible, so I bought a new lice comb in a store that day and started combing. You have to do that for 14 days straight. While combing, I never found any other lice, I only found the eggs. I guess I found out soon that I had them. Anyway, I am now lice-free due to this comb. I do not regret this purchase. I will keep the comb for the rest of my life, but I hope I never have to use it again. The combing is painful and I lost a looooot of hair.
7 Power bank for 150 euros (September)
Whenever I go to a festival I lend a power bank from my flatmate. However, this isn’t a really good one, so last time I used it, when I went to the Pinkpop festival, it was barely enough to keep the navigation going back home. That was a close call and I told my dad. And so, for my birthday in September he bought me a power bank. Very sweet of him! I would have not bought it myself, but now that I have it I am happy with it.
8 Socks for 14 euros (October)
Another gift! I had been complaining to my mom a lot about how I needed some good socks. Actually, I have enough socks, but they’re all very low. I needed some higher socks but I just didn’t order them at Vinted (secondhand) because it wasn’t urgent enough for me. So, when my mom got a giftcard from a shop that sells socks, she bought two pairs for me! Very sweet! I would not have bought new socks myself, but I am very happy with them now that I have them.
9 Back bike light for 6 euros (November)
When I bought a dynamo light in January, it seemed that this dynamo was only suitable as a front light on my bike. On the back there seemed to be not enough room. And so, after my back light broke, I bought a plain back light again and used chargeable batteries. I do regret this purchase, because as it turned out, the dynamo was able to fit on the back too (see purchase number 11). And so, I should have never bought this plain light.
10 Block calendar for 5 euros (November)
Another gift, haha! My mom very randomly bought a block calendar with cute facts about nature in it for me. I mean, I didn’t really need this. But I think it was a sweet gesture.
11 Back dynamo light for 19 euros (November)
Like I mentioned before, after I bought a dynamo light for on the front of my bike, I thought one couldn’t fit on the back of my bike. Turns out this was not true. And so, I bought another dynamo light for the back of my bike. I do not regret this purchase at all. Every year or so I had to buy new bike lights because they kept breaking. These dynamo lights always work and so I hope I can use them for decades. I do however regret not buying them secondhand.
12 Cherry stone pillow for 19 euros (December)
For Christmas my mom gave me a cherry stone pillow. That’s because last winter, my secondhand jug had broken and it took me months to find another secondhand one. That was a very uncomfortable. Because I couldn’t find a secondhand jug at that time, I almost bought a new cherry stone pillow, as that is the most sustainable new option. In the end, I managed to find a secondhand jug. But my mom gifted me this cherry stone pillow still, for the next time a jug breaks. I then don’t have to be cold for months. I am happy with this pillow, but I would not have bought it myself.
13 Set! board-game for 10 euros (December)
The last gift from this list haha! My brother gifted me the game Set! for Christmas. He apologized afterwards, because he forgot about buying it secondhand and so bought it new. But I told him that was okay, as I think it’s a sweet gesture after all. I hope we do not make a habit of gifting stuff every Christmas (we never really do, so I was surprised by this gift), but for this time, I find it sweet that he gifted me something.
14 iPhone charger for 15 euros (December)
The last thing on this list! Quite a bummer. My Iphone charger broke a few days before the end of the year. My roommates couldn’t really lend me one until I could get the spare charger from my boyfriend. And so, since I can’t live without my phone, I bought a new charger. I don’t think I regret this choice because I felt like I had no choice at all haha. I can’t live without my phone for a few days, it’s sad but true.
In total I spend 578 euros on new stuff in 2023 on 14 different items. About one item a month, with an average of 48 euros a month. In the graph below you can see the trend from the past few years. I started extremely high, then lowered all at one, started increasing gradually again, but from this year I am going down again.
First of all, the goal is zero. And so, 578 euros is a lot. And honestly, I am a little bummed by it. If I look at my regrets, those would have saved me 106 euros. If I didn’t lend out my bike and bought a dynamo earlier, I would have saved those. Then I have 472 euros left. Out of those 472 euros, 198 euros are gifts. And I think that’s a little too much for gifts in one year. Especially the power bank (150 euros) added onto that. I have made it clear to my family and friends that I’d rather not receive new gifts and they respect that most of the time. However, sometimes they like to gift me new things and I guess there’s not much else I can do about it.
If I cut out the gifts ánd the regrets, I have 274 euros left of expenses that I stand by and would make again. The biggest part of that is the repairs for my ring and necklace (165 euros). And the dynamo lights (38 euros). With both these purchases I am set for the coming years. And that makes me hopeful for next year! This year I have failed. But next year I will try again to spend zero euros on new stuff! There will be a day when I make it!