Nothing New: a project for our Peak Stuff times

Buy nothing new for a year: a project for 2018

Emma Playsted is living my kind of aspirational life: she is buying nothing new for the entirety of 2018. I think it’s fair to say that the majority of us are at Peak Stuff – it’s cramping our lives and our style, it’s bankrupting us and it is destroying the planet.

Emma probably speaks for a lot of us when she says, “I shop. A lot. Too much. My spending habits are impulsive, frequent and often brought on by boredom, loneliness or sadness.”

She had fallen into a trap of shopping without any thought, buying clothes on supermarket runs – popping into town for something for tea and spending £50 in Primark. Her shopping habits had become hugely unhealthy. Sad? Buy some clothes! Bored? Buy some clothes!

Her project’s modus operandi is simple: she can buy things secondhand, repurpose what she has, swap, find or make what she needs. Groceries are the one exclusion. She is a self-confessed clothes addict so for her this challenge was particularly daunting. And she’s a mum of two. As any parent will attest to, saying no to a child’s demands for stuff can be absurdly tricky after a long day when all you want is a quick fix for the incoming bad behaviour.

So how is she doing? Pretty damn well. Her thrifting has been enviable, her charity shop finds lustworthy, her outfit selections spot on.

In her own words, “I haven’t fallen off the wagon… yet! It’s early days but the more research I do, the more determined I am to stick to it. And I’ve learnt such a lot in such a short time”

If you’re toying with the idea of launching your own #nothingnew challenge but don’t know where to begin, Emma has a few words of wisdom to get you to the start line:

  • I would highly recommend this challenge to anybody. Trust me, if I can do it, so can you
  • If a full year is too daunting then try a ‘no spend month’ or even a week – it all helps + gives you the confidence that you really can do it
  • Or try one area of your life e.g. your clothes, kids clothes or homeware. Small changes can make a big difference and often lead to bigger changes
  • Do a little research into alternative options – you’ll be amazed at how many fantastic secondhand & vintage stores there are… we’ve programmed ourselves to only ever see ‘new’. Once you open your eyes to secondhand, options are everywhere
  • Secondhand and vintage is so much better than new. Really! It allows you to express your individual style, buy mega brands on the cheap and seriously mix things up
  • Starting the project makes you realise how much you don’t know about massively important areas of fashion – like production, fair working practices and fabric recycling. It feels incredibly empowering to delve into the subject and start making conscious decisions
  • I went to an event showcasing the impact of fast fashion. Learning about the ethical failings of the clothing industry has had a bigger impact on me than I’d anticipated and has already had a huge influence on my thoughts about fashion as a whole. Educate yourself… suddenly the challenge doesn’t seem so daunting
  • The project makes you look at what you already own with newfound appreciation. I’m loving getting creative with preloved clothes and wearing items that have previously sat in the back of my wardrobe
  • An unexpected and hugely positive consequence of the project is that it has led to cutbacks in every area of my life… ones that I didn’t necessarily plan. For example, I am only using reusable bags, trying to reduce plastic and in general reuse, reduce and recycle everything that comes into our house
  • The biggest struggle is when I see someone on Instagram in something beautiful and my instinct is to covet it. But now I just remind myself that giving in to the ‘new new new’ impulse won’t make me feel good and the desire soon passes
  • Birthdays have been interesting to buy for when the general expectation is for gifts to be new. I have taken to picking up beautiful secondhand items as and when I see them for family’s future birthdays
  • I’m not buying wrapping paper so I’ve been getting creative – pages from old books, old ribbons I’ve kept
  • I love the creativity that this challenge necessitates. It’s so fulfilling not to simply reach for your credit card and instead make or create or seek out what you need
  • It’s also brought so many new opportunities and people into my life. Frankly, I can’t imagine going back to my old life now


You can follow Emma’s journey on Instagram here or on her blog here. We’ll be doing regular updates too so keep checking in to see how she’s getting on.

Are you doing a #nothingnew project? I’d love to hear from you – please get in touch.